Wow – I did it! I ran a 5k on Saturday. It must be at least 15 years since I ran my last 5k. I was amazed that my body worked more smoothly than I expected; although, I was quite sore the next day despite my best efforts to cool down and stretch. The experience proved an introspective one. As a former cross-country and track runner who essentially hung up my shoes post high school graduation (although I ran a few 5ks during college), I was pleasantly surprised how much came back to me. I actually had decided not to run the race since I hadn’t been able to properly train as had been planned. I have a recurring injury in my right foot – plantar fasciitis, and because of Jeff’s unexpected back injury over a month ago coupled with remodeling our home, I was pretty well tied up in keeping everything together on the home front.
I figured that since I paid for the registration, which included a T-shirt, I might as well go ahead and pick it up. I went the afternoon before the race for my wick-away T-shirt and red drawstring bag and started to think, why not run? My foot’s feeling better. What’s the worst that could happen? I quickly thought – they’re going to post my name and my time online. Do I really want people to see how slowly I run? What if I’m last? I couldn’t possibly walk? But, really the worst thing that I could think was having to quit the race midway. I spent some time examining the previous years’ posted race results and started thinking about how fast I could run a mile and what my splits might be during a 5k. I came to the conclusion that I would likely find myself somewhere in the middle to 2/3, and at bare minimum my walking pace would allow me to finish in less than a hour.
Quitting wasn’t a possibility, because I knew I could at least walk the race. As a person who usually thinks things through carefully and then is typically capable of making a final decision without second thoughts, I was surprised that I couldn’t make a decision. What was wrong with me?!? Just make a decision and move on! I was apprehensive that I would be making a public blunder. There would be people everywhere – running, watching, organizing, etc. I usually prefer to struggle more privately. I don’t shy away from struggles – in fact, I like a good challenge, but I don’t want to struggle publically. I prefer to work through things at my own pace and on my own terms. I’m not talking about being able to slack off or shying away from failure – I definitely set high expectations for myself, but I have never been one who likes a public spotlight – either positive or negative.
To be honest, I really didn’t want other people to see me work through the struggle of making an out-of-shape, untrained body run. Doctors visits, medical tests, etc. told me that I could physically do this, so really the race was a mental, and therefore personal, one. I found the night before as I waffled back and forth that I quietly and carefully began the race preparations that I had once been so accustomed to: mentally running through the entire course, anticipating the challenging areas and others where I could ease up a bit while expecting the harder ones; laying out my clothes and my shoes; pinning my racing number onto my shirt; showering; drinking water; focusing and calming. By the time I went to bed at a reasonable hour with my alarm set, I knew that I was going to race.
I got there and went through an easy warm-up and waited for the race to start. I moved right along keeping a reasonable pace – you never want to be the rabbit that starts off way too fast and then unable to keep a consistent pace. Although I didn’t run a negative split and I did need to walk a bit through a side stitch on the start of my third mile, I finished at my goal to run the 5k under 40 min. My time was 38:17 or a 12:19 minute/mile split. Far, far from a PR, but still under my goal for the day. Thank you Intermountain Utah Valley Heart and Vascular Services for organizing this event. Thank you for encouraging heart healthiness and awareness. It was a fun experience, and more importantly, it has helped me make a mental shift from being a runner in an old life to becoming one again as I am on a path to becoming healthier. Even only a couple of days later, I’ve strengthened my resolve to eat more healthfully and to incorporate more exercise into my daily routine. Perhaps more telling, I registered for another 5k next month.