I am one of those people who generally follows the rule of only running if I am being chased — like by a gang of gorillas in Uganda or a troop of women at a Neiman Marcus sale when you are carrying the last pair of discounted Louboutin red soled shoes in size 7 1/2. That’s why running a simple 5k has been on my bucket list for so long, always pushed aside for something that was determined bigger, better and less physically challenging.
The truth is that I’m not fond of most exercise.
I’ve never been one of those people who are stoked to wake up at the crack of dawn to hit the gym. I usually only do it because at my midlife age you sort of have to keep active in order to have the energy and strength for adventurous things while traveling, like hiking an active volcano in Guatemala or learning to surf in Costa Rica.
I am just not willing to give up on adventure.
With that said, it still took the nudging of a more athletic friend to start working my way to completing this goal. Even I sometimes need a little motivation. She hooked me with the promise of every training run leading to happy hour.
I will run for cheap wine.
Prior to the first time hitting the road, I did two things:
First, I downloaded the Nike Plus app that would record my mileage and time, so the practice progress over the weeks could be gauged. Next, the couch to 5k program was stored down on my phone for easy reference. The weekly training guidelines promised to have me running a 5k in just 9 weeks.
The first training session was exactly 3 miles, alternating 90 seconds of walking with 60 seconds of jogging.
It was rough, proving how out of cardio shape I was.
On this premiere run (or rather walk/jog), my average minutes per mile was 15.41. I wouldn’t be breaking any records at that rate, but I was actually super pleased that there was any running done at all on this first day. The second run was just around 14 minute miles and the third was under 13. The times got better.
Even so, it never seemed to get easier.
Over the weeks, it was evident that my lifestyle was changing, my hair was almost always in a sloppy ponytail and running clothes became all-day wear. A pair of headphones were stashed in my purse, in case there was an opportunity for a spontaneous run.
After a few months we were ready for a competition.
The initial plan was to sign up for the Hot Chocolate run in San Francisco, but it was sold out three weeks in advance. Instead we opted for the Levi’s Presidio 10, a race set alongside the water of the presidio the perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Me and my eager girlfriends arrived two hours early for the race and looking at all the fit racers made me a bit nervous. Most were walking around in their professional running shorts with their 10k or 10 mile bibs placed firmly on their nike athletic shirts. I displayed my number 4492 bib prominently on my leg, its blue background indicating that I was a 5k runner. Even so, there was no judging about us only doing the shortest course, everyone was supportive.
When we were standing in the starting pen, the energy was contagious. People were excited and so was I. As a local gym led us in some stretching warmups, I made one challenge to myself besides simply complete the race.
My main goal was to not come in last.
Then there was the countdown: 10, 9, 8…3, 2, 1.
We were off. The scenery was some of the best, with a view of the Golden Gate for the first mile, an entire mile I ran (very slowly) without stopping. The 2nd and 3rd were a little more difficult with 30 second to a minute stops to catch my breath throughout.
I got a burst of energy when I saw the finish line.
I knew there were Bloody Mary’s and beer down there. I picked up my pace and crossed the finish line with a time of 37.31, my best ever. But even more important I didn’t come in last. Actually I was 8th in my age group and 387th out of 662 overall. Not bad for my first ever race. I will admit, that there was a bit of emotion after crossing the finish line. Let’s face it, it wasn’t like I just ran a marathon, but even so there was still a sense of accomplishment and pride. One of the greatest feelings.
All the races ended at relatively the same time and thousands of people crowded in a small area surrounded by booths filled with free healthy products. We loaded up on power bars, coconut water, kombucha and even salt & vinegar chips before heading home to relish in our success with a glass of jammy red wine.
. . . Check it Off Your Bucket List . . .
- Couch to 5k — a weekly program that will have to ready to run a 5k in just nine weeks.
- Running in the USA — A website that lists upcoming races nationwide.
- Runners World — Find everything you need to know about running; proper shoes, how to train, losing weight, etc.
What to Wear:
- Of course your clothing will depend on the weather, but be aware that if you layer your clothing you will be having to shed those clothes at some point due to overheating. I was wearing a zipper up jacket, that immediately had to be taken off and wrapped around my waist which was a bit of a hindrance.
- Don’t forget to wear sunblock, even if it’s overcast you can get burned. One of my favorites in Banana Boat’s Sport Spray Sunscreen.
- If it’s bright outside, bring a pair of sport sunglasses.