Saturday, November 26, 2011

My first

I finally did it. I ran (ok, wobbled) my first 5k. This rambling blog post is to record details of the event so I can look back on it after I finish my first 10K, my first half marathon, or perhaps cross the finish line of my first full marathon. I want to remember the details of this monumental achievement. 

At least it is monumental to me.

I hit the reset button on my exercise routine last spring. On a whim, I bought a book, Run Your Butt Off. Not sure what inspired me to do that - I think it was the 30-day free trial. It's a great program for people like me: middle aged, busy, and desperate to not be in their current physical condition anymore. I have extra challenges; two bad knees. There was a time I was convinced I needed knee replacement surgery. Just couldn't find a knife happy, pill-popping orthopedic surgeon to be my Doctor Feel Good.

Like most 30-day free trials, I wrecked the book putting a wet towel on it at the pool this summer. Thus began a commitment to working my way through the damned program. The RYBO program goes through progressive stages; walking/running for 30 minutes from non-stop walking to 30 minutes of non-stop running. One only advances to the next stage when one can complete the current stage four times in a given week. I had worked through stage 7 by the time I got to my summer vacation in Canada. The one with my in-laws. The one where I wanted to run for a few moments alone... in the woods... with the loons. I got some great runs on the vacation. They were great because I did them.

In the book, the authors encourage the reader to sign up for a 5K when the reader is only at stage 5 workout.  Even though I was running for 2/3rds of the workout time, I still wasn't running non-stop. I didn't actually sign up when the book told me to. But I did consider trying to run a 5K by Thanksgiving. Not sure where I was going to be; what city, or state. But I knew there'd be one somewhere close to where my butt would be expanding from another indulgent holiday.

Enter another impulse moment. I saw a street banner for the Historic Bethlehem Partnership Turkey Trot a few weeks ago. As I drove under the street banner, the idea went into the place in my head where many thoughts go, right in line behind all of the other tasks I want/wish/should do so that I can look at myself in the morning mirror with a little more self-respect. The thought got buried.

Just yesterday, I read a local newsfeed about the Turkey Trot, with a link to the info page. I tried the online registration, but missed that deadline. I called the phone number to find that I could still register downtown for $10 less than day of registration. We stopped by the visitor center on our way to the Tree Lighting Ceremony. Dropped $25 bucks and had this passing thought: that was a generous donation, if I don't actually make it. I'll still feel good about supporting the local historic preservation efforts. I'm already justifying laziness, and I haven't even failed yet!

The only thing left was to eat a carb-y meal, and try to fall asleep early. Stefano's usually helps on both accounts. I passed on a glass of chianti, and went for a simple penne pasta dish. By the time we got home, I bargained 2 chapters of C.S. Lewis for the kids in lieu of TV. While they complied, I weakened. The Devil Wears Prada was on. I had to stay up to see THAT scene with Meryl Streep. It was important.

I am an idiot.

The alarm went off in enough time for me to pull on the running clothes, warm up some Thera Flu, grab a few spoonfuls of yogurt and granola, and head out the door, park downtown, grab my T-shirt and number. I only had to betray my dog. This is normally when we have our long run together.

The volunteers were super organized. I had enough time to pin on my number and dive into the crowd. I think if I had gotten there any sooner, I would have freaked out a little. Less than half a mile into the race, I saw walkers passing me. And uber moms with their toddlers in (really expensive) running strollers. And people in costumes. The serious runners were far ahead - and God bless them. I just didn't want to see them lapping me.

At the first mile marker, I got a drink of water from a volunteer. I wonder if I'll ever learn how to drink and run at the same time. I tried to talk to some of the other runners that were about my pace. One nice lady told me that this was her second Turkey Trot. Her first one was last year. Her walking pace was faster than my running pace. I think I was keeping her motivated to finish before I did. Other people didn't want to talk to strangers. I tried to ease into a conversation with two other participants, they freaked out a little, and started whispering like they were in a library. Guess not every person on the run wants to make new friends.

The route ran through some of the more charming parts of the city; historic downtown shopping district, Sand Island, City Hall. That image is a screen capture of the exercise tracker app I use in case my body needs to be found. Note the impressive 16:27 mile pace! I swear there was an older lady with a cigar and a walker moving faster than me. But I did something she didn't do.

I Finished!

I got a little emotional at the end. There were some really nice strangers that cheered me across the finish line. I called Steve to let him know I did it and that I'd be home soon. Then I had to call my mom. I was lucky that my brother Mike answered her phone. He's the one who inspired me to try running again after he finished his first marathon. He ran his personal best 5K yesterday in the Kenosha Turkey Trot. Wouldn't it be great if some Thanksgiving in the future, we run a 5K together? 

When I got home, Steve and the kids gave me a great round of applause, and scrambled eggs and toast the kids made for me. Take that, menopause!

I'm now looking for a 10K to run. Maybe I'll even make it across the line of a half- marathon. Maybe next year, I'll have a faster pace. I don't really care about that now. I got a T-Shirt, a number, and a fine memory. Let me blow it up nice and big for ya!

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