After a few months of training (running in my neighborhood and while on vacation), I was finally ready to run my 1st 5K race on June 4th at the church that I attend. The training was rough and it put my body through a lot of pain. Through it all, I learned a great deal about the sport of running, the human body and, more importantly, about myself…both mentally and physically.
I started off my training by running as far as I could consistently and through the website mapmyrun.com, I discovered how far I had run. Then, I’d run again (after the pain wore off), trying to go a little further. I continued that routine, increasing my distance a little bit at a time till I reached 3.5 miles. As a 5K is a little over 3.1 miles, I figured that I was prepared for the race…I was wrong.
2 weeks before the race, I ran the race route and discovered a few things:
- Running with other people brings out a competitive instinct in me. I had read that you should run at your own pace and not be influenced by other runners around you. Easier said than done. Even with only 10 other runners, I had the urge to speed up faster than the pace that I had been training with. As a result, I tired much quicker than my training runs.
- The routes that I was running for my training did not have enough hills to run on. Honestly, I was trying to avoid hills in my training, as they took a lot out of me when I ran them. The race day route proved very hilly..on blacktop and on trails. I knew there would be trails, but I didn’t know it would be as bad as it was. So, I was thankful that I could run the route ahead of time to adjust my training.
- I was in desperate need of good running equipment…primarily shoes. After running the race route, I discovered that my heal and ankle of my right foot began to hurt…and has yet to go away fully. Also, pain on the outside of my right knee and (don’t laugh) hip told me that new shoes were needed ASAP. Oddly enough, I also needed a new shirt. One of the things I learned about running is that friction can happen anywhere when you’re running…even your chest. 1 week before the race, I discovered that my nipples had been bleeding after I ran. After a search on the Internet, I discovered that this is a common injury for men. To solve this, I needed to purchase either a lubricant to put on my chest or a synthetic shirt (i.e. do not run with cotton…anywhere!!). I got both, but have only tried the shirt and it has proven very beneficial.
The route was a little odd. As you can see from the map below, the route had us running on blacktop for the majority of the race, but also had us running through trails and also a portion in the parking garage. I was hoping for a flat course for my 1st 5K…did not get it. Not. by. a. long. shot.
I ended up having to stop running a few times during the race. The same thing happened in the pre-race run, so I knew that I might have to do the same on race day. To plan for that, I changed my countdown timer on my watch to 1 minute. That way, I was “resting” (yet still walking) for only a minute and then returning to my run.
Ideally, the race conditions would’ve included a gently breeze, cool temperatures and low humidity. No such luck on any of these. By the time the race started, the temperature was around 80 and the humidity was around 75% (I’m guessing, as my computer was left at home). Fortunately, I had run a few times in some pretty high humidity while we were vacationing in Santa Barbara a month earlier…but for only 2 miles. I had run a few days before the race when the temperature was in the 80’s, but I think the humidity was much lower. So, the combination of heat & humidity was a new experience.
Due to the heat/humidity combination, I knew soon after starting the race that I’d have to hydrate myself…something I didn’t do during my training. Upon attempting to run and drink at the same time, I began to choke. The 2nd time trying to get water into me, I stopped running to sip water, then poured the rest of the cup over me to cool me off a bit.
Eventually, I came around a bend to see the finish line. I did a quick inventory of my energy and decided that I had enough juice in my tank to sprint the last section of the race through the finish line. I had always been taught that in a race, you run through the finish line…don’t start slowing up till you’re past the finish line. So, I did just that. In so doing, I must’ve past 5 or 10 other runners that were gingerly cruising into the finish. I did take a bit of a risk at the end, as there was one lady that was about to finish that I, more or less, cut off as the finish line was rather narrow. Rochelle was volunteering for the 5k and was taking pictures on the side too. Unfortunately, I must’ve been running too fast for the camera to focus in on me, as this pic shows.
Oh well. Thanks for trying honey!
After the race, we were given a T-shirt, a goodie bag and lots of food to choose from (bagels, fruit, etc)…as well as LOTS of water!!! I think I gulped down 3 of those bottles. I learned (from the goodie bag) that Harvest will have another 5K race later this fall (October 22, to be exact) in Rolling Meadows this time and that we would get a discount by signing up that weekend. It didn’t take me long to sign up!! 🙂
Since the race, I haven’t run once. My body hurt in several places from the training and from the race itself. I thought…it’s time for my body to heal before I do more damage to it. So, as of tomorrow, I haven’t run (or really haven’t exercised at all) for a solid 3 weeks. While some injuries have mostly healed, there’s still one that’s nagging, but I have to get started sometime soon. This next run…my goal is to be able to run the entire thing (no stopping) and to better my time of 35:25. After that, who knows?? Maybe a 10K is in my future??