Sunday, July 12, 2015

My First 5k

Picked up my packet!
I am a runner!

I started running 8 weeks ago and on Saturday, July 11th I did my first ever race, the Bubble Run 5k. Earlier this summer as I was starting my Couch to 5k training, I started looking up 5ks that I could do with friends. My friend Karey and I decided to sign up for the Bubble Run together - with her two little boys.

Eight weeks ago, I never would have thought I could run 5k (about 3 miles). But I've had several friends use the Couch to 5k app so I thought I'd give it a try. I was ready to try something harder in my workout routine, so I downloaded the app and started.

Ready to run!
I plugged in my headphones and hopped on the treadmill those first few weeks, letting the belt's momentum propel me along. Physically it was fine going, the harder part was the mental battle I had to push past. I've always declared myself to not be a runner, but here I was becoming a runner.

In early June I had a big opportunity - I could take a week off from training or I could take my running to the streets while I was on family vacation in Denver. I decided I had to at least try running on the streets. I surprised myself by not only doing it, but doing it well. It wasn't as hard as I had thought it would be.

Every run started with a mental battle. Did I want to get out of bed early in the morning on my summer vacation? Did I want to run after doing/eating .... the night/day before? Would I be able to run that far? Would I survive the heat? Every time I got out of bed and put on my running clothes, popped on my headphones, and headed out the door. Every time I did I ended up amazed at what my body could do.

I started following running groups on Facebook and reading articles online about running. I bought a "Running for Beginners" book that was chock full of advice and tips. I even found running as a connection between me and some guys at my online dating websites.

Start line selfie!
Last week, as the first race drew closer, I got more and more excited. It was motivation to get out of bed for those early morning runs which were still increasing in time on the training app. And on Friday when I picked up my race packet, it felt so right and so real that I should be doing this. I'm ready!

As we drove to the race on Saturday morning, I was pumped, only a few nerves about what my strategy would be - run with my friend or go at my own pace. After doing our usual 5 minute warm-up walk, as taught by the Couch to 5k app, my friend and I decided to run. I got swept up in the crowd and she got caught keeping an eye on her boys running with her. Decision made.

And so I went. Knowing that I didn't have my music to help me keep a steady pace, I knew I would have to reign myself in so that I didn't start too fast and then die at the end. I forced myself to go what felt slow at the beginning. Well, and the large crowds forced me to go slow, too.
At the start line with my inspiration.

About a mile in to the run there was a major bottleneck as the large crowd had to cross a small bridge. A few people were continuing down the path. I didn't know the course at all, but hoped they knew another way across the river that wasn't going to add too much time/distance. I followed the few and bypassed the bottleneck, only adding about a quarter-mile to my run but saving a lot of wait time.

Bubble feet
from the bubble bogs!
I just kept pressing on, trying to run past the walkers who were taking over the whole trail despite many announcements to run left, walk right. I had to zig-zag a lot, but I kept moving. I allowed myself breaks at the bubble bogs to enjoy the bubbles- after all, they were the reason for the run! I didn't play and get as colorful as some people, but my shirt did have quite a few colors by the end and my ankles were tie-dyed looking when I took my shoes off later.

post-race... not quite as
dirty as the kids
Just keep going. I kept putting one foot in front of the other. What a difference running with a crowd in a party-atmosphere made to my run. It seemed to fly by; before I knew it was I was approaching the last bubble bog and headed towards the finish line, passing near the start line where the course snaked back around.

Good clean fun!
Crossing the finish line was a challenge as so many other first time 5k'ers were stopped to take picture of their accomplishments. I was able to run across the line and then stopped to grab a few water cups at the station right across the line. I found an open grass spot and stretched. Many people were going right to the post-race bubble bogs to party and get more bubbly, but even in a fun run I knew I'd need to stretch.

I kept my eyes peeled for my friend and her boys. When I saw them (after a hunt for one of the boys who got separated after crossing the finish line) we went to play in the bubble bog together and enjoy our post-race glow. It was a great morning!

And if that wasn't enough exercise for me that day, I accepted a last-minute invitation to go hiking that afternoon at Lake Blanche....

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