1. Warm-up walk
2. Jog for as long as I can
3. Cool down walk
That's it! Nothing fancy or complicated. I've tried the various programs before. I've read up on all of the "strategies" for race training. But, in the end, I thought...why don't I just try to see how far I can run without stopping.
So that is exactly what I did. At least twice a week (no exceptions), I put on my running shoes, went outside and ran. Each time, I would simply try to run farther than the time before. I pushed myself each time, but I was always careful not to overdo it or injure myself.
My goal at the beginning of June was to run my first 5k by mid August.
By the end of June, I was already there! June 28th, I ran my first 5K in my neighborhood!
After that night, I was a bit conflicted. Should I go ahead and schedule a race, or wait until August like I had originally planned. I wanted my first race to be a success, so I was thinking I may need to continue training throughout July to get better at my 5K. On the other hand, if I can run 5k by myself in my neighborhood, it may actually be easier to run a real race because of the energy and competition that comes with it.
In the end, my impatience won out. I went online and found the first possible race in my area. A local "Firecracker 5k/10k" on the morning of July 4.
I arrived to a much bigger crowd than I thought. I wasn't sure when I registered if this would be a big event, but an hour before the scheduled start time, there were already scores of people milling around. My race partners were John, my brother in law and June, my mom. John, who has a lot of running experience, was coming along to help and "coach" me. June was there for encouragement and moral support but she was also going to run/walk the 5k. We walked a bit, stretched, drank some water, and wrote the obligatory Facebook post. ;-)
Finally, at 8AM, the race began. John and I were going to run together for the entire 5k, and my Mom was planning on staying behind to walk / run.
From the very beginning, I could feel what my runner friends had told me...I was going much faster for the race than I ever had on my own. I felt great and there was no doubt in my mind that I would successfully finish the race.
I got in a good groove and proceeded to slowly pass the walkers, and then the speed walkers. (It's amazing how some speed walkers can walk nearly as fast as I can jog!) Miles 1 and 2, I was able to stay in this groove and slowly work my way to the middle of the pack.
Here is a video I took at mile 2...
Right at the mile three mark, just 1/10 of a mile from the end, I decided to go for an all out sprint to the finish. The only problem....someone had placed the mile three marker too early. What I thought was a 1/10 of a mile sprint was more like 1/4 of mile. I almost gave in and stopped, but John encouraged me and I kept going! Finally, I reached the finish line! I looked up at the clock and saw that I had finished at 39:38. (This is not my actual time since I was not at the starting line when the race began. My actual time was closer to 39:00).
When I first registered for the race, I had told several of my running friends that I hoped to finish under 40 min. Mission accomplished! No need to stay for the rest of the festivities or awards... I wasn't really trying to "compete" anyways.
I went home feeling very good about meeting my goal.
One list simply listed all of the racers in order of completion. The other list separated out the top three from each age group in both male and female. When I looked at the second list, this is what I saw...
I'm not under any impression that I'm a big shot runner or anything. After all, this was a small, local race and I'm guessing all of the really fast runners were probably in the 10K. But still... it felt great to have the small victory on my first race. It was time to celebrate...
What did I do to celebrate?
I laced up my shoes and went for a run.