Monday, June 8, 2009

"And I ran, I ran so far away..."

("I Ran" by A Flock of Seagulls).

Update: My 'official' time was 47:37. Damn them for taking away those 7 seconds! It's all good, though...I'm still stoked!

This weekend was so screwey, and that's not what I was looking for right before I had to do my first 5k. Saturday, I had Chick-fil-a for lunch after we picked up our race packets, and then I was so busy with running errands and doing stuff around the house, I didn't even stop to eat dinner. I finally realized this around 9:45, and I didn't want to eat right before bed, and right before a race.

After tossing and turning in bed for an hour and a half, I decided that I needed to get up and at least put something in my stomach, so being the health-conscious, nutritious eater that I am, I had a handfull of honey roasted peanuts and hit the sack.

Let's just say I think I slept better in the middle of the woods with the possibility of animals eating me, and crazy murderers getting me. I could NOT turn off my brain. I wrote down everything I was thinking about before I went to bed, which usually helps, but nothing would work! I drifted in and out of sleep until my alarm went off at 5:50 am.

We were on the road by about 6:15, and we showed up at the race site at 7:00. They had told us to get there early if we didn't want to walk from a nearby Kroger parking lot, so we did. In the end, there wasn't very much competition for good spots, and our 3 cars all ended up making it into the right parking lot.

I ate a banana, had some powerade, and took 2 Ibuprofens about 1/2 hour before the race started, and then we all just kind of stood around in a nervous stupor for a bit. All of a sudden, I started to get really nervous, even though I know that if I just walked the whole thing, I'd finish in under an hour. I think part of it was that we were standing there, with that Scarlet R on our bibs, in the midst of 'real' runners. I guess I didn't want them to judge me, thinking that I think I'm a real runner like they are. I would have liked it to say, 'yeah, it says "R", but don't worry, I'm not delusional enough to think I'm as good as you..." but I guess that would have been too long to write on a bib.

So we stood there, and waited for the race to start. The BFF decided several times that she didn't want to actually do this, but she did it, of course. I believe Tonja mentioned the words "stroke" and "ambulance" a couple times, and I pretty much stuck to the nervous whine/wimper that I tend to do when I'm not quite sure I want to do something that I know I have to do.
As the race started, we stuck to the back of the pack because we didn't want to get passed by everyone.

I probably made it about 3/10ths of a mile before I decided to start walking. The BFF and Tonja made it farther than I did. Once I started walking, I sort of began to panic, because it felt like I wasn't going anywhere. I knew my legs were moving, but it felt like my scenery wasn't changing at all! I guess that since I've been training on a treadmill, I didn't realize how different it would feel when the earth under my feet wasn't moving for me.

I probably ended up running the most in that first mile, and when I made it to the 1 mile marker, I saw a lady sitting there. This being my first 5k ever, I didn't quite realize what she was doing there, but then I saw her talking to the lady in front of me. I took my earbud out long enough to hear her tell me that I was at 14:20-something. So many things were going through my head at that moment - 'oh my god, this sucks!', 'oh my god, I'm never doing this again', 'oh my god, did she say FOURTEEN?!?!?' - that I missed the actual seconds of the time she told me. Never in my life have I done anything less than a 16 minute mile, and here I am thinking I'm not moving at all, doing a 14-something! I kept going, thinking her time had to be wrong. There was no way that my lead feet were doing a 14-something minute mile.

Mile #2 was mostly through a residential area, with several long, rolling hills. I ran down the hills as much as I could, and walked up them. I was so scared that I wasn't moving my feet fast enough, that I just kept telling myself that I had to keep up the pace, no matter how long the hill was. "Don't slow down. Keep the beat of the music. You can't slow down. You gotta move. It's almost over - this hill is almost over!" And then the hill would be over, I'd run down as much as I could, and then continue on my walk. At the 2 mile marker, the man there told me "30:07".

Now, I'm pretty sure most people just hear their time and keep on walking like it's no big deal, but everytime I'd hear my time I'd say "Thank You!!!" and keep on going. If you're telling me that I'm doing 14 and 15 minute miles, you'd better bet I'm going to thank you for that!

Mile #3 was mostly straight away back to the church, but with a big, fat hill in the way. Tonja had long since been out of our sights - she Energizer Bunnied it through the course. The BFF was a little bit behind me for some of mile 2, and then she kicked it into high gear and passed me up. I was pretty much all alone for the rest of my trip, except for an older woman in front of me that I just couldn't catch up to.

Random note: Since the course was on a public road, and through neighborhoods, there were a lot of cars passing by. At first, I was self-conscious, thinking about all my flab bouncing around for all to see, and again, thinking "I hope these people don't think that I think I have the ability to actually do this". Why did I feel that way? Why did I want to negate what I was doing? I don't know why I keep acting like it's not a big deal that I'm attempting to run a 5k. It's like I just don't want people to feel pity for me, or laugh at me in that "Oh, that fat girl thinks she's going to run a 5k?!?! Bwaaaahahahaha!" kind of way. I just have this internal need to let other people know that I know full well I'm not going to run the whole thing. I'm not kidding myself. But, really, why does it matter?! That drives me nuts!

Anyway, like I said, at first I was really self-conscious. Then I started trying to look at it this way: maybe in one of those cars is an overweight woman who feels helpless. Maybe she wants to lose weight but doesn't think she can do it. Maybe she wants nothing more than to go out and see how far she can run, but she, too, is self-conscious about flailing flab. Maybe, just maybe, she'll pass me on the road and think, "Wow...look at her. She's bigger than I am, and she's out here running. She doesn't care about her floppy stomach. Maybe if she can do it, I can." (Of course, she would have no way of knowing that in my head, all I'm thinking about is my floppy stomach and trying not to die...thank god we don't have thought bubbles above our heads!) But that thought is what kept me running when I could. I'm not just doing this thing for me. I'm doing it for fat, flabby, self-conscious women everywhere.

I came up to the 3 mile marker and started running again right after I passed it. When I turned into the church parking lot, there were several finished runners ligned up cheering the rest of us on. That was a really nice thing to experience. I booked it as long and hard as I could, and crossed the finish line in 47:37. I was so out of breath that one of the workers had to take the bottom part of my bib off for me for scoring. I just couldn't even breathe well enough to concentrate on that.

The Hubs met me at the finish line and gave me a big hug and a kiss, and I came so close to crying because (1) I couldn't catch my breath, and (2) I had just finished my first 5k, 5 minutes faster than I'd ever done before.

After a while, I finally caught my breath, and we stayed for the awards. Would you believe it?! The BFF and I came in 1st and 2nd for women in our age group! Now, wouldn't it be mean of me to leave out the part where I tell you that we were the only two women in our age group? Oh well...

It was an amazing experience that I wouldn't exactly call "fun". That's all I kept hearing before the race..."5k's are so fun! You're going to have a great time! Enjoy!" Um, excuse me? Fun? Riding a roller coaster is fun. Going to a concert is fun. Practically killing yourself on a 3.1 mile trek at 250 pounds? Not exactly what I would call fun.

Rewarding? Yes. Worth it? Yes. Something to be proud of? Yes, but "Fun"? I'm not quite there yet.

All in all, I'm really glad that we did it. We've got the first one under our belts, and now we know what to expect from the others. The only thing that sucks to me is that you can't get a true comparison of whether you have improved from one to the next, since the courses are different. What if we do the 5k on the 4th, and it's chock full of crazy hills? Of course my time will be slower, even if I've been training harder. How do you compare that?

I don't really care how you compare it. All I care about is fulfilling the goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the year, and right now, I can say "last year I ran a 5k". That's so much better than "last year I sat on my ass".

I'm a happy girl.


A.Leo said...

You should be so proud of yourself, you did a great job! I have never ever run a 5K before and I keep telling myself that I have to just sign-up and do it, but I don't know what I'm so afraid of. Congrats to you, that's a great accomplishment!

Lyndsey said...


Just wanted to check in and say that I think you should really focus on your second thought (about the woman in the car) vs. the first (about them thinking you shouldn't try). I bet that did happen!! I know it always makes me feel good when I see people out exercising who are bigger like me because I feel like if they can do it, I can.

Plus-- I really don't think I would've stuck with c25k if you hadn't gotten through the first 4 weeks. I was so scared of that 5 minute run and I am 90% sure I would've talked myself into believe that running that far is NOT POSSIBLE for someone my size if I didn't know you had just done it.

So ummm yea. you rock. Congrats again :)

sarah said...

Congratulations!! That is so awesome!!

Anonymous said...

Aw girl, I am SO happy and proud of you! And, as per your usual, you have inspired me and given me something to think about when I'm out there being all self-conscious and doubting the reality of my athletic endeavors.

I will remember that maybe someone will see me and be inspired because I'm big...but I'm working on it. I hope I can inspire others to work on it like in the same way you've motivated me.

Thank you so much.

And YAY YOU! Congrats!

Alea said...

I'm new to your blog and just wanted to say CONGRATS! Just reading about it felt very inspiring! Go you!

Anonymous said...

Also, I referenced you in my blog post today and I called you my iFriend. Hope you don't mind!

In case you do mind, consider this asking for forgiveness since I failed to ask for permission. A little trick I learned at work. ;-)

Congrats, again!

Katherine said...

Such an inspring story congrats on your first 5k

♥ Dee ♥ said...

What an absolutely awesome post!!