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Couch to 5K: My story

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

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.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I am so happy and very proud of you and your husbands accomplishment! What a wonderful story of how you got to the point of doing a 5k. You really got me when you didn't dare turn around once to see what was behind you. I do that myself sometimes. If I am dead last, I don't want to know about it! Way to persevere and to challenge yourself. You are a WINNER! You have motivated me to stick with my program. Thanks so much for being a ray of sunshine in my spark friend page! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2555 days ago
  • no profile photo CD8158758
    emoticon emoticon emoticon That is just so awesome Evelyn!! Proud of you!
    I would love to enter one of those someday soon! Your blog was very inspiring! It would be so much fun to do one with a bunch of Sparkfriends too!! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2576 days ago
    Good for you. You fought through your fears, and completed your goals. emoticon
    Such a beautiful area. I'm so glad you included pictures. I love the old buildings. They always have such character. Look how far you have come. Wheelchair to marathons.

    I agree, the beach can be so relaxing. Makes me want to go. I give thumbs up for your hubby. What a guy!! emoticon
    2577 days ago
    Congratulations. What a wonderful and inspiration story. Thanks so much for sharing. Your perseverance made it happen. So excited for you - you are awesome!
    2577 days ago
    WOW!! That time is AMAZING!!! What can I say except you inspire me to keep going!!! You are totally AWESOME!! Huge hugs, Moni emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2577 days ago
  • MEEMAH2013
    Great blog! Way to go! Very encouraging! Keep us updated on your next 5K!
    2578 days ago
    just one word


    2578 days ago
    I really enjoyed your blog! Thank you so much for sharing about your first 5K and all that it meant for you. It was very useful to have a better idea of where you came from and what a challenge it was (you were very brave, especially as it took place at night!). I loved reading that you are looking for another 5K to participate in!!! That was the best of it all!
    emoticon emoticon
    2578 days ago
  • SAMI199
    I just read this & tears are in my eyes-what a remarkable story! I am so moved by your determination to overcome your fears-that in it's self is total victory! I love the part where you said you didn't look behind you once you started.We hear it so often-keep our eyes on the prize-and go for our dreams-and You Did It!!!! The pictures are beautiful & really made me feel like I was there with you. I love the way your husband walked it with you-what a great guy! I am so proud of you & you have inspired me more than I can say! Thanks for sharing your journey & Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    > emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2578 days ago
    what a wonderful blog you can just feel your joy coming from it
    great job what ifs have a way of becoming excuses wonderful work of putting them a side and living life in a more positive way
    2578 days ago
  • no profile photo CD7773457
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon Have you looked into walking sticks as I found they helped me after ankle problems. I was so glad to walk without looking down all the time afraid of how and where i was stepping. They are suppose to burn a few more calories as you use your arms. Plus the patterning of walking with them is great for the brain as it is like a baby crawling.
    2579 days ago
    Thanks for the great blog. I'm really happy for you, and proud of you for doing the 5K in less than the goal you set for yourself. Isn't it amazing how old we probably seem to other people, when inside we don't think of ourselves that way at all.

    Congratulations to you and your husband for succeeding at the challenge you set for yourselves.

    Gail emoticon
    2579 days ago
  • SHARON10002
    What a wonderful story! Loved the pictures. Where was it? The beach was beautiful.
    emoticon on your finish time! emoticon emoticon
    2579 days ago
    That's Fantastic! Good for you! Congratulations for having the courage to sign up and the determination to see it through! You are awesome!
    2579 days ago
    Good for you. At 63 I ran/walked my first 5K. I had never tried anything like that before, and everyone in that race was much younger than I was. I finished in about 52 minutes, and was so proud of myself. My hubby was there at the finish line to cheer me on.
    2579 days ago
    emoticon EXCELLENT! PROUD OF YOU!!!!!
    2579 days ago
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