First of all, I would like to thank all of my SparkFriends.
It was with your encouragement and inspiration that I picked up running and decided to do this 5K. I had been waffling on my decision to start running. I kept thinking to myself "no, I can't run, I can't possibly be able to do that, it hurts too much." But reading your stories helped me to decide that yes, running was worth it. And once I started running, I thought, "there's no way I can compete in a race, I'm just not good enough." And with your encouragement, I came to the conclusion that no matter how I did, participating in a race was worth it too.
This Bronx Zoo 5K was a charity race sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society to raise money for the preservation of lions. I think it was very fitting that my first race was for the big cats as I am participating in the 5% Spring Challenge as a member of the Cats team.
I had initially decided to participate in the family walk/run portion (which is stroller friendly) since I was planning on walking/running the race. However, after having talked to a few friends who had participated in this race before, I decided that it would be OK to walk/run in the run portion. Since it's a charity race, it's a bit of a free for all. That was totally my game plan going in: to continue with my walk/run intervals from my SparkPeople 5K training program. I knew that there was no way I would be able to keep up with my friends who were participating. They're seasoned runners and I'm a newbie. But I was hoping to finish in 45 min.
Before the race started. It's cold early in the morning!
Well, once the race started, the game plan went out the window. My friends took off and although I could keep up with their pace initially, I knew that I'd tire out soon if I used their race pace. So I just started jogging slowly and I didn't stop until sometime after the first mile. Up until now, I've only been able to run for 5 min straight at a time. This was closer to 13 min. I ran, actually ran, most of the race. I had to take 5 short walking breaks the entire race but I don't think they were longer than 2 min. Whenever I took a walking break, I wanted to keep walking but I knew that if I walked for very long, it'd be that much harder to get myself to start running again. So I just kept running.
You know what helped? Seeing the other runners. There was a mom running with her six year old son, holding his hand the entire time. I thought to myself, "if the two of them can run this thing, why can't I?" There was a man who was a bit overweight and huffing and puffing the entire time and again, I thought to myself, "if he's working this hard, why can't I?" And you know what else helped? All the volunteers and other spectators who kept cheering us on. Hearing
all along the route brought a smile to my face and kept me going.
It was a charity race so there was no official time but based on my own calculations, I finished in 36 min. Wow, 36 min! I am so proud of myself. I think 36 min for my first ever 5K is pretty
My friends and I after crossing the finish line.
This 5K definitely had a party vibe to it. The local radio station was a sponsor and MC'd the event. They had a DJ spinning tunes. They had face painting (I'm kind of sorry I missed it) and there were people running with their faces painted like lions or tigers. There were people running in lion hats. I even saw one person who ran dressed in a lion jumpsuit. And it was definitely cool that I got to run past zebras, hyenas, and giraffes. They had zumba sessions too but unfortunately, I missed that. Next year, definitely next year!
Another friend came just to cheer me on (so sweet of her) so all of us decided to spend the day seeing the various animals at the zoo. As if running a 5K wasn't enough exercise for me for the day, I spent the next 4 hours walking around the zoo.
Unfortunately, we only got to see one lion.
After that we all got lunch (yes, there was celebratory beer at Growlers Beer Bistro) and headed back to our apartment, where we watched the hockey game together and played board games all day. I felt great before, during, and after my run but it was a long day for me. I kind of felt like this bison by the time our friends headed home:
They must have some wild bison parties on Friday night. This guy was out like a light!
I expected that I would be pumped after my race and I now know why running is so addictive. I definitely plan on running this race again next year. My friends and I are planning on doing the Wildlife Conservation Society's October 5K at the New York Aquarium. I'm already looking for another race to sign up for the summer.
What I did not expect was the lack of guilt and worry over what I ate yesterday. This has been something I have struggled with. I enjoy eating out and I won't ever apologize for it. It's not like I feel guilty afterwards per se but I always feel the need to balance out a calorically expensive day with more diligent monitoring and exercise the next few days.
Not so yesterday. I knew I had to eat something to fuel me ahead of the race so I had a banana and half a bagel. Although I was not starving after the race, I knew I should eat or expect a major crash later. So I had a mini muffin and another half a bagel that the race provided. Despite that, I still got hungry while we were at the zoo so I had an Odwalla energy bar that the race had provided. I pigged out at lunch with the burger, "baked potato inspired" fries, and the beer and I finished all of it (which I normally could never do). And not once did I feel guilty. You would think I wouldn't be hungry after that lunch but I got ravenous again before dinner. So I had another Odwalla energy bar. Then I had a sensible dinner. And after that I was still hungry so I had an apple.
Even with the run, I knew that it was not enough exercise to balance out the amount of calories I was eating. But you know what? I just didn't care. My body was starving and I fed it. And it's not like I ate junk (well, burger, fries, and beer aside). Why should I feel guilty? I didn't make poor decisions. I was active all day. I felt like a "normal person", who is not on a diet. I haven't felt that way since I (re-)started my Spark journey. The race felt good. But feeling like a "normal person" felt even better.
And just one more parting thought. If we all loved vegetables as much this guy, we'd all be better off:
You would think tortoises move slow. Not so! If you give them lettuce, they move pretty fast!