I DID IT! I ran my very first 5K!
Last month as part of my January happiness project goals, I announced that I would be facing my fears in the form of running a 5K. Now maybe to some of you athletic types, this doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I mean, what's a measly 3.1 miles right?
Well, let me tell you a story. In July I'd started running with my dog around my neighborhood and doing Zumba and generally getting my act together when it came to exercising. But then October hit and I had to have surgery that landed me in the hospital for three days. The details are not up for grabs here on the blog, but let's just say that exercise is hard to do when you can barely move without being in excruciating pain. I was ordered not to do any physical activity for six weeks after my surgery.
When my doctor gave me the clear to start working out again, he told me it would still hurt but to not let that stop me. My body would heal in its own time and I couldn't let the fear of pain get in the way. I started walking again, but running? Nope. I already don't like running as it is, so doing it with an added level of pain was not exactly my idea of fun. But as it came closer to the New Year, the craziest and most random thought came to my head: Maybe I should run a 5k. I honestly couldn't tell you where the idea came from, but something was telling me that I should face my fears and get back to running. But I needed concrete motivation; something tangible that would pretty much force me to run consistently.
I thought of my sister-in-law. A while back she had mentioned running a 5K and I immediately shot her down. But this time, I was ready to rise to the challenge. I contacted her and, thankfully, she wanted to run a race too! We signed up for a race that goes through LA's Chinatown and started training. My only goal from the beginning was to run the entire thing and when we first started training, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do that. I have never run 3 consecutive miles in my entire life and the thought was very daunting. But little by little, I saw myself improve over the weeks until finally it was the big day on Sunday, February 23rd!
(Not only did my sister-in-law run the 5K with me, two of my closest friends were there running the 10K that was also going on! It was fun having more people there to cheer for!)
Remember, I only had one goal for this race: run the whole thing. And, I'm not going to lie: IT WAS HARD. I had no idea that a lot of the race course was going to be up a lot of hills. It was brutal and there so many points (like at hill #3) that I was so close to just calling it quits. But I never stopped running and I ran all the way across that finish line!
I was so proud of myself, but more than that I was thankful. In October, the thought of doing anything like this seemed a million miles away. Four months ago, I was taking slow and painful steps down a hospital hallway, wincing with pain as I clutched onto my IV pole to hold myself steady. So I couldn't help but get emotional as I crossed the finish line because look at how far God has brought me! Running this race was my little miracle; I feel like God brought me full circle from a hospital bed to a finish line. I don't take my health for granted and I'm just so incredibly thankful.
Thinking about running a 5K but the thought is overwhelming, you don't know where to start and you don't consider yourself a "runner"? Here are the 3 things I recommend that really helped me (a non-runner who typically avoids strenuous physical exertion) run my first 5K:
- Just sign up. I knew that committing to (and paying for!) a race was the best way to make sure that I stayed focused and dedicated to running on a consistent basis. Knowing my personality, I knew that just running for running sake was not going to cut it. Having that date on my calendar pushed me to take training seriously. I made sure to pick a run that was not too far away but that also gave me enough time to really train.
- Run with someone else. I can't stress the importance of this point. Without my sister-in-law, I don't think I could have done this! We trained on our own individually throughout the week and then ran together every Friday morning. Having someone to keep me accountable (and keep me company!) made all the difference. Don't underestimate the power of a good running buddy!
- Get an app. I love technology for the sole purpose that there's a phone app for pretty much anything you want to do these days. I downloaded a free Couch to 5K app for my iPhone (this one specifically) and I think it did a good job of prepping me for the race. It focuses on the length of time that you are running instead of the distance, which was much less overwhelming for me. For someone like me who was completely clueless when it came to running, an app like this was a lifesaver.
Now that this 5K is over, I'm looking forward to running another 5K and possibly a 10K down the road. As someone who is a work in progress when it comes to overcoming my fear of getting healthy, I am proud that I stepped out of my comfort zone and followed through on a goal that was very challenging for me. My One Word for 2014 is strength and boy, do I feel strong! Strong and happy and motivated and grateful that God keeps giving me opportunities to prove myself wrong.
What about you? Have you run a race before? Ever thought about running one? Do you consider yourself a "runner?" Do you have other health-related goals that you're working on in 2014? Let me know in the comments!