I’m not sure exactly when I began to think about participating in a 5K race, but I know that it came from my relationship with my wonderful Spark friends. Reading about what other people are doing here on Spark People is very inspiring!
I have not been physically active my entire life. When I was in school there were virtually no athletic activities for women. I went to a parochial high school that had no gymnasium, and we didn’t even have physical education classes. In college I was required to pass swimming (which I did), but I made Cs in tennis, archery and fencing which I took only to fulfill the basic requirement of four PE classes in order to earn a degree. I HATED my physical education classes because I wasn’t any good at any of it.
When I turned 35 I noticed a bit of cellulite on the back of my thighs, so I bought some high top Reebok shoes and a Jane Fonda aerobics VHS tape. Later on I bought Richard Simmons “Sweating to the Oldies” VHS tapes (all of which I still own). Sporadic use of these tapes has been my fitness program for the past 25 years. Oh, I have also exercised with Denise Austin and her television shows off and on. Because I usually watch what I eat I have been within 15 pounds of my goal weight all of my life, but I have never had a great level of fitness because I have been too inactive.
When I turned 60 I was told that I had osteopenia, the precursor to osteoporosis. That was a bit of a wake up call for me. In December my husband and I got Fitbit zips to start tracking our steps. In January I decided after reading lots of reports of other Spark friends walking 5Ks that even I could walk a 5K (or so I hoped). To sweeten the pot I picked a destination 5K where everyone is encouraged to wear green; children and pets on leashes are welcome. I believed that the serious runners wouldn’t really show up for this type of fun event. This was a charity run where everyone wears green and has fun!
As the time grew closer, I began to get really nervous. What if I couldn’t finish the race? I can only walk about 2 miles before I start feeling discomfort, What if I fell down? What if, what if? What if I was the last person in my age group? When I signed up for the race I understood that the start time was at noon…I loved that because it meant that we wouldn’t have to deal with darkness. Neither of us sees well in the dark; a week before the race I learned that the race time was actually 6pm which meant that halfway through the race we would be running on city streets under street lights! Yikes, I thought…we can’t possibly do this without falling down. My doubts were strong.
We kept our reservations for the trip. We rented a car with cruise control so that my leg wouldn’t be too stressed during the long drive time. Every hour we stopped for a stretch break, hobbling around like really old people, but then we ARE in our sixties, so I guess a lot of the population does consider us really old people. LOL
Two days before the actual race we walked the 5Kroute on the sidewalks so that there would be no surprises on the actual day of the race. Our route followed beautiful streets lined with azaleas, trees, benches and statues.
I sat on benches a few times, elevating my feet and wondering out loud if I would be able to finish the race. I was doubtful but determined at the same time. My knees, legs and hips ached after that practice walk on the uneven sidewalks and stones.
The next day we went to the beach a few miles away. I strolled on the sand, and I tried to let my body rest for the big race the following day. ( I love the ocean and its healing properties. )
I studied my footprints on the sand.
I thought about how “old” I had become, and I resolved to become as fit as I possibly can become through healthy eating and exercise.
Race day was the following day, and I was so nervous that I resorted to eating saltine crackers to settle my nerves. I made my husband promise not to leave me during the actual race because I had an overriding fear that I would fall down en route. We arrived at the gathering place, and I was delighted to see all the groups of people in costume. I wish I had thought to take pictures of the decorated strollers, the dogs with green tiaras and tutus, etc. It was truly magical.
The shot gun rang out and everyone began to move…about 2000 of us I think. I grabbed my husband’s hand and held tight. I smiled nervously, and we walked down the middle of the street as runners swerved to the left and to the right of us. Men, women, children, strollers, dogs, most wearing green, ran past us…it was incredible. I never had the nerve to turn around and look behind us…not once. My goals were simply to finish the race in less than 60 minutes without falling down. I know that I can walk a 20 minute mile if I push myself. I pushed and I persevered, and I never fell down. Both of my calves were really burning; my left hip hurt, and my right knee hurt, but I kept going. Around the squares we went…around the parks we went….past sidewalk cafes and cheering residents we went…it was exhilarating! By the end of the race I was grinning from ear to ear as I clocked in at 57 minutes! That is an 18 minute mile! Two years ago DH was pushing me in a wheelchair following a serious accident, and now he and I are walking our first 5k. God is good.
We are looking for another 5k to walk, and I promised DH that he can walk at his own speed next time. I will be just fine walking alone, and I will work on shaving a little more time off my 57 minute finish! WooHoo to Spark People for giving me the idea, the drive, and the encouragement to becoming the healthiest 63 year old that I can be!
Note: Thanks for reading and thanks for supporting me on my journey. The best is yet to come as I become more fit and more strong with Spark People.