Last Saturday was my first 5K. Well, I used to do 5Ks with friends in college, but most of the time, I walked the course. I was never a runner, and I didn’t really care about my place in the race. I cared more about the free jambalaya and drinks afterward. Typical college student, right? MUST.FIND.FOOD.
I have been doing the Couch to 5K training program for weeks now, so I figured it would be cool to test myself and see how I could do. I didn’t have high expectations, because my current pace is very slow, but I was really hoping for a 45 minute time.
Spoiler alert: 45 minutes didn’t happen.
The day before the race, it stormed, which isn’t really a big deal unless you live in a place like this. The day after a nasty storm, it’s usually crazy humid outside. I thought that maybe 8:15am starting time wouldn’t be SO bad, since it was still kind of early, so I woke up, ate most of a Luna bar, some fresh raspberries and chugged down a glass of water. Then, as I was getting ready to leave, I got SO nervous. I kept thinking to myself…what am I doing? Am I really going to do this? Thank God I had my friend doing this with me, because I probably would have chickened out and crawled back into bed.
Then, I thought…hey, it’s just a 5K. In the middle of the summer. How crowded could it be?
So, my friend and I arrived at the zoo, and the parking lot was PACKED. It was a HUGE turnout, and there were so many runners out there who looked like they meant business.
I kept telling my friend “We got this…we’re gonna rock this”, but in the back of my head I kept saying “Don’t pass out…don’t fall…don’t come in last”.
Before I knew it, the race started. I put on my Pandora station, and started my jog. I was feeling pretty good, and noticed that I saw a 13:29 pace on my app. To me, that was CRAZY fast. So, I slowed down to avoid the burn-out. My usual pace is a VERY slow 16:30ish, so I tried to stick to 15:00/mile pace as long as I could.
For the first mile, time flew. I wasn’t staring at my phone to check my stats much, and realized that I was doing a pretty good job with my pace after I saw the Mile 1 sign. Then, around 1.5 miles, the usual zoo canopy of trees were gone, replaced with a side part of the track where we had to run through some sort of back parking lot. OH MY GAH. No shade…humid as all get out….and HOT. I was so sad to do this, but I had to walk. I walked for about half a mile until I got back under the trees, and got right back to running.
The second run was just SO difficult to get back into. I was hot, sweaty and felt like I was truly the slowest person there. I never turned around to see if anyone was behind me, but I felt truly alone at that point. There was one point around this time where I was running on the right side of the track, since I knew there would be mile 3 runners running on the same part of the track (yeah, the loops in this race were VERY confusing), and a volunteer shouted at me to move for the REAL runners (despite already being on the right side of the track).
That guy was the only volunteer who was like that. I have to admit, the other volunteers were truly wonderful. Even though I was one of the slowest ones there, they kept telling me “great job”, “keep it up”, “you’re awesome”…things like that. I really appreciated that, and every time, I’d try to muster out a “thank you” since they really did inspire me to keep pushing.
When I saw the mile 3 sign, I told myself to SPRINT. I can sprint 0.1 miles, and I figured it was just around the curve that I was running. I got super excited, but the curve kept going on and on and on…seriously. But then, I heard my friend. She was screaming “GO AMY!”, so I kept my sprint going to that finish. I saw my time as I crossed the finish line…51:06.
I was SO discouraged….like very bummed, but then I gave my friend a huge hug, and she said “You DID IT! You FINISHED a 5K!” My first reaction was WATER. SNACK. CHAIR., so we walked over to the pavilion where the rest of the runners were and I grabbed what I needed.
After guzzling down the water and slowly eating some animal crackers, I was so relieved to finally catch my breath.
My friend and I took a picture, and until then, I didn’t really realize how much I was SWEATING!
By the way, do you recognize this shirt?
After a few minutes, I decided to check the results to see how I did. I was 6th to last place. (yikes) However, on my Runkeeper app, I noticed that my overall pace was completely AWESOME. Way better than any long run I’ve ever done, and this race was almost twice as much as my longest C25K workout! So, that was awesome. And, my results can only get better from here!
My friend and I are already looking for a 5K to do this Fall, in fact!