I’m sure most people prepare a bit more than yours truly before running their first 5K. Heck, they probably plan to actually r-u-n the race in the first place. They might start off by joining a running club, getting a buddy to train with, or even eating a proper meal before embarking on a 3.5 mile run. But I never seem to do things in the correct order.
This past week, I ran my first 5K as part of the Marcum Workplace Challenge at Jones Beach. When I registered back in May, I had every intention of walking the race with my co-workers. Prior to the events of Tuesday night, I hadn’t hit the pavement in so much as a jog in close to a year, and the last time I ran competitively, I was in high school. So, yeah, running the 5K was out of the question in my mind—that is, until I got to the starting line and instantly felt competitive amongst a sea of 8,000 people. I should also mention that since I wasn’t initially planning on running this challenge, dinner was a hot dog a mere 20 minutes before the race. Just sayin’.
There I was…at the starting line. I broke out like a Thoroughbred at Belmont, and in mere seconds, instantly regretted my decision not to stretch before taking off. A few minutes in (and yes, I mean minutes) and I was ready to call it a day and walk the rest of the course. But I had a formidable opponent in the form of a work colleague next to me who wouldn’t let me quit. It was his first 5K, too, but he, unlike myself, ran 2-miles almost daily.
About a mile in and I had found my stride—although by no means was I enjoying the run. If you followed my Instagram Stories from the evening, you’re welcome for the hilarious commentary at every interval.
Somehow, I made it to the 3-mile point (without hitchhiking my way back to the finish line) and became determined to complete the race in under 45 minutes. I booked that last half-mile like my life depended on in it—and made it across the finish line at 40:29. I couldn’t believe my time…or that I had completed the race.
Although running a 5K was not on my agenda, the sense of accomplishment I felt afterward combined with the high from knowing that I pushed my limits and completed the race in a reasonable amount of time carried me through the rest of the week.
While there are a few things I would tell someone to do differently, if they were planning to run a 5K (like eat a decent meal and stretch beforehand), I think I gave the ‘Couch to 5K’ running plan a whole new meaning. Here’s hoping that my muscles recover and my right hip doesn’t hate me for life!