After 9 weeks of Couch to 5K training, I ran my first 5K on May 15. Although the training had me running 30 minutes continuously, I was not running the full 3.1 miles in that amount of time. I was really unsure if I would be able to do it. I figured that it would take me over 38 minutes to complete it, and would I be able to run an additional 8 minutes?
I awoke really early and had butterflies in my stomach all morning. We got to the site a little late, and I got delayed on my way to the bathroom by some friends who wanted to talk my ears off. I also wanted my daughter to take some pictures of my family before the race, as this was the first for my 2 sons, also.
By the time all that was done, there wasn't enough time to go through my normal warm-up. I lined up at the back of the crowd of runners and was shocked at how fast the runners took off ahead of me. I stuck to my normal slow pace and settled in with a group of three other ladies. The course began up a hill, which I got up OK, but that got my heart rate up to 90% within 2 minutes of starting. A level section followed, down the hill, and I was feeling good enough to smile and wave at my daughter.
Then, another hill! Some of the ladies I was with started walking. I really wanted to run the whole course, so I kept running. Down this hill, and then... a long 1/2 mile incline! About halfway up this incline, I was feeling really stressed and out of breath. I looked at my HRM watch and it said 102%! Yikes! I didn't want to embarrass my family by dropping dead during the race, so I knew I had to walk a bit. I felt so defeated! I walked about 30 seconds, but wasn't losing any ground among the ladies I was with, even though I was walking and they were running. Then, the race leaders came barrelling down the hill, having already reached the half-way point of the race and on their way back to the finish. Then I saw my husband coming down, and, darn it, I didn't want him to see me walking, so I started running again. Some of my daughter's track-star friends ran by, yelling encouragement to me and somehow I managed to make it up the incline. Two of the ladies I'd been running with had dropped off. There was another hill up to the water station. I walked again until after I'd finished my water. I knew I was halfway done and it was mostly downhill from here. I regained my strength on the downhill. My family was there cheering me on at the bottom!
The finish was in sight now and this kept me going. Somehow I just knew I could do it. But first, there would be two more hills to navigate. The first one was steep and I had to walk again. Near the top I saw my husband walking up the other side, so I ran again. Then the second hill came into view. I was bound and determined to run this one, so I began pumping my arms and really pushed myself. My husband said I left the lady who was with me in the dust! I just had one lap around the track and at this point I was thinking, "I'm never doing this again!" My husband cheered me on the downhill and I ran as hard as I could to the end. I had finished my first 5K! I was delirious! I didn't even hear my time or remember to stop my watch. I found out a few days later my time was 36:38.
My husband, who has been running all sorts of races for the last 30 years, said this course was the most unpleasant one he has ever run. He was SO proud of me. At first, I felt defeated for having to walk, but then I realized that this course was just plain difficult. But I finished faster that I had expected, even with 3 short walk breaks. And do you know what? I'm already signed up for another 5K in October. I WILL run that one even faster!