Long time no blog, I know. But if there were ever a time to write about anything it would be this:
I RAN MY FIRST 5K!!!!
I know that is NOT a big deal for a lot of people. Some of you probably ran 5ks as a family, or just for fun. No big deal. But it is a pretty big deal for me so you get to hear ALL ABOUT IT.
Let's see - I completed my Couch to 5k app back in December. That was excellent, because when it came time to flake out due to Thomas being out of school (no childcare and I couldn't make myself get to the Y) and the holidays I didn't have to feel TOO guilty. But then it was time to start running again when our normal life resumed and I struggled. Not too bad, but sometimes it feels TOO cold or rainy, perhaps. I had started tracking my mileage toward the end of 5k training and realized that while I could run for 30 minutes (not without a few breaks) I was still not going 3.1 miles. I am total slowpoke. Sometime after I wrote my last post about running, I had graduated to running in the neighborhood and I adore it. By now, I do get bored with the same ol' route BUT I am changing it up and getting more adventurous.
But that didn't stop me from signing up for a 5k, sponsored by the local school district. At first I thought it was just for the elementary school where Thomas attends speech-preschool. Then I went to pick up my packet and got my number - #399! That's a LOT of people, y'all. I was secretly relieved because I was afraid it would be a tiny race and my slowness would be very, very apparent.
I've been running since September and it WOULD be the week of my first 5k that I dealt with my first injury, right? I'd been thinking about the problem of distance and decided to try the treadmill at the Y. I thought it would be easier if I could just keep going and going without having to navigate a route. It turned out that it was NOT easier and altogether really bad. First of all, treadmills may have fans but it's nothing like God-given breezes out in the open. Our winter weather is, as always, really weird and funky. Hot one day and cold the next. It was a humid day and I was dying in the gym. Then, ten minutes in, I flipped my glasses off the treadmill. I take off my glasses when I run because the sweat was giving me an unattractive zit right in between my eyes. The cord to my earbuds did a weird snap and flipped my innocent spectacles right over my head. So I had to stop the treadmill and search for my glasses and then lost all that momentum/info. Aggravating. Last but not least, my feet started hurting. Badly. I knew I was due for a new pair of running shoes - I had stupidly bought a pair of Pumas off the rack at TJ Maxx to get me through for awhile. It was just kinda awful, and yet I don't remember my feet really hurting until I got through Zumba the next day.
That didn't stop me from trying to run on Wednesday. At first I really thought it would be okay, because I could feel my feet hitting the pavement differently than my treadmill run. But soon it was just too much and I realized I had to stop. I didn't want to hurt myself so bad that I couldn't run on Saturday, and so I came straight home. First of all, I sent messages to two friends who are runners for advice. I called up our local Fleet Feet to find out if they charged for their consultations - and guess what! THEY DON'T! So that took a load off my mind - I quickly showered and headed over to buy new shoes. It's one of those situations where you kick yourself for not doing the right thing earlier. If you're like me, you just cringe at shelling out the money but it's beyond worth it, I promise you. The guys there were so sweet and I hobbled out of there with a pair of new shoes that felt like Cadillacs for my feet. And special socks. And inserts that cost more than the stupid the pair of shoes I bought at TJ Maxx. BE YE NOT SO STUPID, Y'ALL.
The word from my friends was that I might be experiencing plantar fasciitis. I needed to rest, ice my foot, and hope for the best. So that's what I did for the next two days.
Saturday morning arrived. My alarm went off and I felt a strange mixture of excitement and dread. What had I gotten myself into?
It was sunny but cold out. I put on my "cold weather shirt" under my race t-shirt but then ended up taking it off. Plain long-sleeved cotton shirt instead, my new running shoes - I was ready. I had to force myself to eat that Larabar. I couldn't figure out if my number should go on the front of my shirt or the back. It's like I'm a toddler when it comes to this whole running and raciing thing. It is truly remarkable I didn't show up with my underwear on my head.
I wasn't 100 % sure of WHERE the start location was. Dear God, race people - would an address to put into Google Maps kill you? It turned out it was right off the Reservoir. Traffic was closed down in one lane across the Spillway. I didn't even have time to process it, was too busy trying to strap on my phone armband, figure out where the start line was. It was a little crazy. Tons and tons of people and Thomas and Beaux hurrying behind me. Before I knew it, the horn went off and the land mass of people started moving.
Let me fully admit right here that I got teary-eyed as we started. This was it! I was in a real 5k! I had followed through to this very moment and I wanted to cry from the magnitude of it all. The most non-atheletic, most-inclined-to-sit-on-the-couch-with-a-book-and-a-snack girl was moving my feet and running alongside total strangers.
It was all kinda weird. I am NOT used to running by anyone. My foot was hurting but I could push through it. For awhile. There were people walking very fast and people jogging slowly. There were mamas with jogging strollers, containing kids all bundled up against the wind. And it was WINDY. I wasn't prepared for it and wished for my hat, kinda like a kid wanting their security blanket. I finally set my running GPS and had to stop to walk way before I wanted, due to my foot.
I think the main lesson of this first 5k was dealing with outright discomfort. My foot was hurting and I was doubting why I'd even tried this. My other foot started giving me twinges because I was shifting weight from the hurt foot. I sound like an 80-year-old writing this, I know. The concept of 3.1 miles in this wind and on this road over the Reservoir seemed insane. BUT there were other people running, trusting they could do it. I could do it, too. I had to make peace with the fact that it may not be how I wanted it, but I was here and there was no option other than completing it.
I admit that the first person I saw running back, when I barely had gotten into the race, brought up some envy. There was a flash of muscular legs and practically a cloud of dust following him. How can ANYONE go so fast? Who invited the Kenyan? No, really, it was a strange mixture of envy and inspiration.
The breakthrough, as always, was half-way. There's just something about knowing you can keep going, that it's already half over. All of this makes it sound like I hate running - I don't. I just struggle with it still, and especially when I'm hurting. I look forward to the time where running 3 miles is something easy, or at least not such a struggle. It's a practice, and I have never been very good at practicing anything. But the beauty in practice, any practice, is that you look up and you're doing whatever you're practicing and it's not such a big deal.
When I could see the last stretch, I pushed myself. Somehow, the pain disappeared. Running that last bit was easy, was wonderful, and I would give anything if I could have felt that good the whole race through. I finished in 44:04, which wasn't too bad for me, especially with extra walking. Beaux and Thomas missed me coming through the finish line but it was so wonderful FOR ME that they were there. Not so wonderful for THEM but I'm hoping one day Thomas will understand. I would love for him to do little fun runs. Yes, I saw KIDS running the 5k and that made me even more determined to keep going.
All of that to say, I'm so glad I did it. I can't wait to do it again. I'm working on running faster than a sloth and yet slower than a Mississippi Kenyan. In the meantime, I'm being careful with this silly foot, resting. Today it doesn't hurt, and Monday I ran with no pain at all. GAH. So boring to talk about, but I hate feeling less than 100% my normal healthy self. But so much thanks goes out to all of you who have cheered me on here, on Facebook, on Twitter. I report in because I desperately need accountability. I need those little pats on the back to help me keep going. And a huge amount of credit goes to anyone who has been kind enough to give me advice, especially my friend Heather on Facebook, my inspiring high school buddy Brandy, and the one and only Miss Zoot. Her running experience has helped me believe I could keep trying and trying and that maybe one day I'll be brave enough to try a running group.
Could this post be a return to blogging regularly? I really want it to be. I'm so rusty at writing, it's taken me three days to write this post. BUT I want to talk about my favorite reads of 2011, even though we're solidly into 2012, and just write to remember these days. How awesome Thomas seems to be doing, language-wise, and how it's still an uphill climb. We've signed him up for beginner's soccer and weirdly, I CAN'T WAIT. And! I haven't blogged about our new, adorably maddening puppy, Moose. Oh, Moose. So yes. Stay tuned.