In my quest to complete 31 things on my Cradle List before I find myself knocked up, I have learned a lot and actually have done more than I originally planned. Like yesterday for example, I ran my first 5K ever.
I’m not a runner. In fact, I’ve always hated running. I also thought runners were a bit weird.
I mean, what’s the point? Where are you going? It’s not like you’re going to get to a base, a goal, or to the end of a court. And how do you score? There’s no ball, basket or goal. The whole act of running for running’s sake just seems pointless to me.
I think running would be a lot more fun if there was an offense and a defense. The offense could try to run in a straight line while a defender tries to trip, bump and confuse them. That would not only be fun to play, but it would be an enjoyable spectator sport.
So, in late January, when my company announced they were sponsoring the Go! St. Louis 5K, I decided to join dozens of coworkers in signing up for the run. I figured it would force me to start running and could also help me with #5 on my list, losing 30 pounds.
About 15 minutes later, I panicked. “What the hell am I doing? I’m not a runner. I hate running. I’m going to embarrass myself in front of my coworkers.”
But by then it was too late. I couldn’t embarrass myself by wussing out. So I started the Couch to 5K program. After asking around what would be a respectable finish for a first timer, I set my goal to finish in 45 minutes. Here’s how my training went:
January- Start run/walk intervals on treadmill. Can barely make 2.6 miles in 45 minutes at first. Increase running, decrease walking. People tell me to focus on my breathing. The only thing I can focus on is my chest about to explode.Now I know how the human sacrifice guy in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom felt to have his heart ripped out.Try to focus on breathing by chanting “Kali Ma Shakti De” over and over.
- Late January- Shin splints that gave me stress fractures during high school basketball are back with an ugly vengeance.
Someone recommends Fleet Feet. I invest in $150 worth of shoes, orthotic insoles and some nerdy looking compression sleeves for my shins.
- Early February- Finally start making it to 3.1 miles each run.
- Mid February- Complete a 5K for the first time in 45 minutes. Look around at fellow treadmillers. Expect cheers and a medal. No one notices or congratulates me.
- Early March- Shave 4 minutes off my time and finish in 41 minutes. Set new goal of 40 minutes for race day.
- Mid March- Meet goal 40 minutes. Set new goal of 35 minutes. Realize I can almost touch my nose to my knees with my legs stretched straight out in front of me. I’m getting more flexible. Husband will be excited.
- Late March- 38 minutes consistently, then 36.
- April 9- Finish my first 5K in 37 minutes, 2 minutes shy of my 35 minute goal. Weak sauce. Mixed feelings: accomplishment (I finished) failure (I was too slow). Mom shows me video clip she shot of me crossing the finish line. First time I see how awkward I look. I ask her never to show anyone the video.Mom asks, “Now that the race is over, can we go get some pancakes?” I do not get the pancakes.
People told me it would feel really awesome to finish, but the truth is, it felt kind of embarrassing. It was really discouraging to keep getting passed by better runners.
I don’t want to be a runner. But the problem is, I hate being bad at anything. In some ways I wish I had never started running because I know I will never be awesome at it. At best, I might be ok. But now that I have started, I feel like I have to do better. In fact, now I want to do a 5K in 30 minutes.
My next 5K is in May. Hopefully this one won’t be quite as embarrassing. In the meantime, for fun, the next time I see a runner in my neighborhood, I’m going to play “defense” against him.