A quick overview of my training leading up to that point: I joined Planet Fitness on November 18 and could barely run, much less run a mile and there was zero possibility of me being on a treadmill for 3.1 miles. I followed the Novice to 5k training schedule rigorously for the first few weeks - and then the holidays came.
For my first note of advice to all those reading this blog who are not runners, IT IS OKAY TO BEGIN YOUR TRAINING AT THE HOLIDAYS. I absolutely did not stick to my schedule, and I was not able to get to the gym 3 days a week like it said. But I did go to the gym. Some weeks it was once and some weeks it was twice. However, I got through the holidays feeling a lot better about myself than I normally would because of those few times I got my head out of the refrigerator.
Back to the 5k. By the time Sunday rolled around, I had prepared and I had a goal in mind. Two days before, I had run/jogged/walked 3 miles consecutively for the first time in my entire life. My time was 39:46. Even though my training to that point had been 99% treadmill, I felt ready. I ran a mile down the Jersey Shore boardwalk on Saturday, and though it wasn't the best day of my life, I felt okay. I knew I could make it the entire way, and given the course was "mostly flat", I felt I could handle the cold as well. Goal: Complete the 5k in under 40 minutes.
Well that was complete crap. Have you ever stood outside in 20-something degrees with a wind chill in the single digits? It's frigid. I knew going into Sunday that it would be cold, but that was the only problem that I had foreseen. Every single thing that could have been opposite of my training was present:
- The "mostly flat" course ended up being "mostly icy". So they switched courses to the "mostly hills" course. Again, to all you non-runners, this sucks. It is a horrible, nasty joke that trained runners play and it's not okay.
- The cold weather that I could handle (see 2 paragraphs above) and that I had foreseen (see 1 paragraph above) was nothing that I could have predicted. Even during the downhill parts of the race, it was difficult to catch my breath and my $55-keep-you-warm-in-Alaska pants apparently did not apply to that day's weather.
And finally, as we rounded the last corner only to hear the organizers say we had gone off course and ran too long, I realized that as much as one may prepare for their first competitive race, you can never be ready for something you have never done. As I ran down the street with legs that walked half of the second mile and most of the third mile, I was filled with pride because I was finishing. Even with all of the complaining (thank you Megan for listening without judgement) and all of the desire to quit (thank you again Megan for being my cheerleader) during the race, I was going to cross that finish line if it was the last thing I did.
One last bit of advice for all of you non-runners who are considering training for a race, set your sights high. My goal was to finish my race in under 40 minutes. Even when it was extremely cold and they changed the course, I still had that goal. Turning that final corner, I had no concept of time but I ran that last bit with every ounce of energy I had. And in the end....
Final - 39:46.4
You're darn right, I'm proud.