Back in January (just 7 months ago), I joined SP because I was looking for a free meal plan program to help me "mix-up" my family's meals. When it came to planning weekly meals - I was failing miserably... Every afternoon around 4:30pm, I'd start panicking about what to make for dinner! Ever since having twins over 5 years ago, my brain could not function beyond the "here-and-now" survival principle!! But that daily afternoon panic was driving me crazy, so I set a goal to improve my role as stay-at-home mom/homemaker.
It took me a couple of months to get the hang of using SP, and by March I was utilizing a lot more on SparkPeople.com than just their meal planners. I was tracking EVERY ounce/gram of food I ate and working out a couple times per week.
Then it hit me - THE RUNNING BUG!!! I read about the "5K your way" team and wondered if I could do it... So I looked up future 5K races in the area and signed up for one that was taking place on April Fools Day! I didn't tell a soul until the day before the race - not even my family. In hindsight, I wish I would have, but I was worrying about failure and didn't want to disappoint others...
I had to train primarily on my elliptical machine - outdoor runs were out of the question since my children are too young to stay at home alone. During my 3 weeks of training, I was only able to squeeze in one 5k practice run prior to race day!
My first race day finally came and I was able to use the help of grandma to watch the kids while I went to the race (unfortunately, my husband was out of town on a business trip.) The weather kept a lot of racers home (it was snowing on and off and very cold), but there were still a few hundred racers. Since this was my first race, I had no idea what to expect... My biggest surprise was how nervous I felt! Once the race started - the snow stopped, the sun came out and I started putting one foot in front of the other. Before I knew it, I was almost finished and felt awesome! Just before reaching the finish line, I fell in love with 5K races - racers that had already finished the race were standing on the sidelines cheering the rest of us on!!! I thought that was the coolest thing ever! Everything about my first race was just perfect - great weather, medium-sized crowd, very well organized, and I beat my goal of finishing in 40 minutes (I finished in 35.15 minutes).
My next 5K race was A LOT different. It was on a very sunny and hot Mother's Day and had over 4,000 runners! This time my husband and kids were able to join me and cheer me on - which I was very excited about! (Actually, they had no choice since that was what I wanted for Mother's day!) Unlike my first race, this one did not start off so smoothly. The 10K runners were supposed to start first, then 15 minutes later, the 5K runners were supposed to start. But the starter mistakenly started everyone at the same time, so I had to rush to get to the starting line and my family missed seeing me at the beginning of the race. At least they were by the finish line to cheer me on! Overall, the rest of the race went great and I set a PR of 32.17 min.
Finally, I raced my 3rd 5K today. This race was a very small event with less than 100 racers. Just like my other two races, I was nervous before starting - but I actually like the nervous feeling (it's kind of addicting). The race started well and I was maintaining a great pace. Unfortunately, with small events comes less organization and more chaos... About 1 mile into the race, the race leaders took a wrong turn and everyone followed... Since the race took place on my alma mater campus, I was pretty familiar with it and knew we were all running in the wrong direction. I stayed with the rest of the runners for a while, but then decided to turn around and get back to where I knew we were supposed to be (I'm not one to normally go against the flow, so this was a big deal for me). As I ran past the other runners, we just shrugged our shoulders and kept going. I finally got back on course and was in first place as I past my cheering family (I can guarantee running in first place will never happen again for me, but it made my kids proud of their mom!) I let them know that the other runners were lost at the other end of campus and would be by soon. By around the two mile mark, the really fast runners had caught up and past me, but I did finish in the top 10! When I finished the race, my GPS running app showed that I ran 3.26 miles in 33.2 minutes.
After competing in all three races, I've learned that all 5K races are not the same!! If I had to choose my favorite race, it would have to be my first race - the weather was amazing (literally, it stopped snowing and the sun came out just long enough to run the race, then it started snowing again), the crowd was just right, it was very well organized, it was just perfect (except for not having my family there to cheer me on). I'm glad that race was my introduction to running 5Ks, because if my intro to 5K races had been either of the other two, I'm not so sure I'd want to keep racing (big crowds and mass-chaos are not for me). BUT they weren't my first and I've got the running bug now more than ever!
Now.... Time to find my next race to sign up for!
This picture is from my Mother's Day race of my awesome family!