#14/30: Run a 5k

Happy Tuesday! I recently revamped my 30 Before 30 List and decided to start sharing some of the progress I've already made. This morning the Shamrock Marathon Facebook page posted this picture

and I knew which item on my list I needed to share today. It's an oldie but a goodie, the one that started it all - my first 5k!

A lot of people who know about my running tell me how a 5k is on their bucket list, or how they've walked a 5k or two but want to really run one. I love these comments and have nothing but encouragement for these people! If you're one of them and don't know where to start, I can't sing the praises of Couch to 5k enough. I had never run in my life and had no clue how to even start. The idea of running ONE mile seemed like a task for Hercules. I had no idea how 3...in a row...without stopping...was even humanly possible. I fully credit that program with teaching me to run. There are a billion apps you can download but I just used that website. I looked at it before my run and saw what intervals I needed to do, then I timed them with my phone. I was pretty low-tech back then. Oh how things have changed...

So, on to my first 5k race. Technically, I have two first 5ks: the first one I ever did, and the first one I ever ran. I completed the former about a month into Couch to 5k so I did a combination of running and walking. I still count it as one of my races, but I didn't feel like I had truly completed a 5k (the way I wanted to anyway), until I finished the latter one.

I finished the C25k program in August 2011, but I still had never run a continuous 3.1 miles. The program is based on time more than distance, and it culminates in a 30-minute run. I was running somewhere in the 12:00 - 12:30 minute mile pace range, so 30 minutes was only about 2.5 miles. After I finished the program I fell off the wagon a little (I think I ran twice in the whole month of September, oops), so I didn't really "train" for this race, per se. I wasn't planning on running it, but my dad mentioned it to me and I think we signed up a week or two before the race.

I still remember what song was playing when I turned on my iPod at the start line: "Oh No" by Girl Talk. Which is kind of ironic because, at the speed I was running, I don't think anyone really had to move and get out of my way. It's also a pretty small race with only a few hundred participants which, in retrospect, was probably a good thing. There were always people around so I never felt lonely, but I also never got in any traffic jams.

The race course is pretty neat because it runs around and through our big outdoor music amphitheater here (fun Latin/Greek nerd fact for the day: amphi means both so really an amphitheater is a full circle even though we call the half-circle theaters amphitheaters). All I really remember about the actual running part is that it was slow and steady. So slow, in fact, that Ben was able to answer a phone call about 2 miles in and have a full-on conversation with his sister for about 5 minutes.

One thing I thought about a lot during the run was that it was my cousin's birthday that day. He was killed in 1999 at age 9 - he would have turned 22 on race day. I thought about the fact that I was doing something he never had the opportunity to do, and that kept me going when it got hard. That's still one of my go-to thoughts when I just don't feel like running anymore: keep going for those who can't.

It's nice to think back on this race and realize how pure of a moment crossing the finish line was. I don't really remember looking at the clock when I finished. I had no watch to immediately stop and check to see how I did. I had Runkeeper going on my phone but I don't remember immediately checking that either. The only thing that mattered was that I had conquered something I never in a million years thought I'd have the strength or determination to conquer. It was such a feeling of bliss!


  1. Ha I sing that song when I'm in traffic. One day I'm going to win Mother of the Year. For now though, no guilt. :D

  2. It's so cool that you thought of your cousin. And keeping yourself going because they never had that opportunity. Next time I run a race, it'll be for my grandpa :)

  3. I love this. My first 5k was not so long ago, so that feeling is still so fresh in my mind, and I hope I never forget it. Like you, I never thought it was possible when I started running — I was just hoping to be able to run for more than a minute without collapsing! But look at you now! :)
    Also, the song I stepped off my first race to was "Love is an Open Door" from Frozen, haha! But I LOVE running to that Girl Talk album! It's one of my favorites

  4. I'll be running my first 5K since being back next month and it's really refreshing to see I'm not the only one who says things like "the way I wanted to" when it comes to a race. It's so great to see where you started to see where you are now ! Super inspirational :)

  5. This is so inspiring! I tried the Nike 5k app a few weeks back and it was WAY too hard to start, but I started the actual C25K app last week and I really like it so far- I'm shooting to run a 5k in September and my goal will be to run the entire thing-- which still seems close to impossible at this point :) Thanks for sharing your first race story!

  6. GIRL TALK. i like you even more now.

  7. that is awesome! on my bucket list!!

  8. this was such a great read - i feel like you described my first 5k. and look how far you've come! brilliant.


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