I did it! I Ran my first 5k!

January 29th, 2011 is a day that will live in infamy.

Well, maybe only for me. I ran my first 5k in 40:09. Amazing. A little over a year ago, if someone had told me I would RUN a 5k, I would have laughed. Me? Run? No way!

It all started in fall of 2009 when fellow MFPers suggested I try the Couch to 5k program. I thought, well, I’ll do it but if I hate it I’ll quit. Keep in mind I was someone who never, ever ran the mile in gym class at school. I “power-walked” it in 15 minutes, so didn’t see any reason whatso ever to work harder than that.

I ended up finishing C25k, but didn’t follow the program religiously or on the time frame suggested. I did it here and there as I could talk myself into running. Winter months are hard here with the snow, cold and ice and the treadmill is dreadfully boring so I’d do it for a few weeks, give it up for a few weeks, pick up where I left off for a few weeks, etc. But, I realized I kind of liked running, which was weird to think let alone say out loud.

Prior to last week, the last time I ran was probably early October but in the midst of making New Year’s goals, I decided I would do one physical (running) even each month for the entire year. That meant I had to find a January event! Only two weeks to train? Yikes!

Then, I caught a cold and that put exercising out of my mind for a week. Shoot! Only a week to train? I can fit a few runs in on the treadmill and maybe one outside. Then, as it usually does, life happened. I ended up running one time on the treadmill five days prior to the 5k. Even then, I walked almost 1/3 of it.

Going into the 5k, I told myself I wasn’t out to prove anything to anyone but myself. If I ended up walking 1/3 of it, that’s fine as long as I finished. That morning, I got there early and spent a lot of time debating over whether to wear a jacket, which hat to wear, etc. You should have seen me when they gave me my registration packet with a timing chip! “What do I do with this?” Luckily, I spied someone who had their strapped around their ankle with the velcro strip attached to the chip. Whew! Didn’t want to look like an amateur!

Soon, it was time to line up. I kept inching back further and further in the crowd, willing the serious runners to get in front of me. I didn’t want to hold anyone back with my super slow jogging. I ended up finding the walkers and lined up just in front of them. When they gave the cue to start, I started off jogging, only to see that the first leg of the race was all uphill! “Oh, crap!” I thought to myself, followed by “You totally have this!”
It wasn’t long and I found a good pace and some good tunes to get me through it. I started passing the power-walkers, then the walkers who started out jogging, and soon I was passing other joggers. What? I’m passing people? No way!

About 1.5 miles into the race, I hit another uphill portion that was covered in 2″ of slush, which made it feel like running in sand. Gotta love Minnesota winters! I ran as much as I could, even passing two more people, but had to give my legs a break. I walked maybe a 1/2 mile, then started jogging again. One of the women I passed whizzed past me but she had a great pace, so I fell in behind her and kept pace with her. Before I knew it, we were on the last mile, which was mostly downhill. Yes!

As we passed the signs for 100 yds, 50 yds, 25 yds, etc., I kicked it into gear and started running faster and faster until I was sure my heart was going to explode or my legs would give way beneath me. The annoucer called my name and I crossed the finish line. I did it! I did it!

After a brief conversation with the woman I followed, I walked back to my car with tears in my eyes. I was so proud of myself for doing something I never thought I could do. I did my stretches and wiped my tears before going to the awards tent. I figured, I should experience all of the 5k.

Just as I was walking in the tent, I heard them call my name but given I have a terribly common name I figured they couldn’t possibly be calling my name. It had to be another Heather J. So, I watched as awards were given out, then snuck up to the announcer and asked. He then confirmed that he HAD called my name. I then received my medal for placing 3rd of 6 in my age bracket! Unbelievable!

My official time was 40:09, which I thought was fantastic given I had never completed 3.1 miles on my treadmill in less than 42 minutes. I was told by my MFP friends that I would automatically run faster on race day, but never believed it to be true.

As I crossed that finish line, all I could think about was how I couldn’t wait to tell my friends on MFP that I did it! I never would have started running, let alone have the courage to do a 5k had it not been for my wonderful, supportive friends here. Who would have believed that someone who started running at 200 lbs would run a 5k just over a year later?

For those of you who encouraged me and supported me through this, I can tell you how much it means to me. For those of you who want to do a 5k but don’t think you can, I’m here to tell you that yes, you can!! You may have to work up to it, but I promise you it will be worth the time and effort.

As for me, my next 5k is in two weeks. Runners aren’t joking when they say it can become addictive!

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