Sunday, June 30, 2013

5 Days Until 4th of July 5K

I became a runner on May 22, 2013.  That was the day I finished the Couch 2 5K program for the first time.  I had attempted this program a number of times in the past, but I always found myself sidelined by injury, schedule conflicts, or lack of motivation.  I never had a serious approach to running - it was just one part of a very half-hearted exercise program.  I would drag myself onto the treadmill and casually chug along at walking with brief jogging intervals.  Pretty quickly, I'd strain a muscle, declare myself hurt, and stop trying for the next two months.  I in fact thought of myself as someone who "couldn't run," "just wasn't a runner," "didn't have the right body for running," "wasn't cut out for running."  To me now, this is patently ridiculous.  Anything with feet (real or prosthetic) can run, including me.  However, back then, I easily convinced myself that my incompatibility with running was a fait accompli. 

The time around I had a different attitude from the start.  Maybe I've matured since the last time I tried to do this (I did turn 30 and get married in the interim, two milestones that caused me to do a bunch of healthy soul-searching).  I devoted myself to sticking to the running program and seeing it to completion.  I made finishing it a personal goal I wanted to accomplish, rather than just another short-lived way to try to lose those 30+ pounds I've been gaining and losing and then re-gaining since I graduated law school in 2007. 

When I did finish it, despite making two minor alterations to the schedule for a trip to Palm Springs with my best girlfriend Kyla and a long weekend in Chicago with my husband Bill, I felt great, and ready to proceed on to a secret goal I'd set for myself... running the Walk for Warriors 5K on Memorial Day at the LA Veterans Affairs campus in Brentwood.  Bill was in Europe for work, so I ran it without anyone there to do it with me or cheer me on - in fact, I didn't even tell anyone that I was doing it, other than Bill and Kyla.  I wanted to have only my own expectations at stake in case I didn't finish, performed poorly, or chickened out all together.  Well, I did it!  I ran my first ever 5K (and only my second time running outside since gym class in middle school), 3.39 miles, in 38:12, an average pace of 11:17 (which included some long stretches of walking because the course was not as flat as I had expected).

Bolstered by my accomplishment, I immediately decided to sign up for a 10K, which will be in Pasadena in October.  For the next few weeks, I played around with running outside on different routes in my neighborhood, going on runs mostly 3 miles in length but ranging up to as long as 5.5 miles.  I live in a fantastic beach community, so there are tons of great places to run - a track, parks, shaded neighborhoods, a great green belt with a woodchip trail, and of course the Strand, an oceanfront pathway.  I love this variety and constantly change it up.  On June 18, I did Run 1 of a 61 Run 10K training program I am doing on Runkeeper.  All told, as June 29, I have logged 60 miles running outside since May (with 5 more miles to run before today is over).

On July 4, in 5 days, I am running a holiday 5K with Kyla in Redondo Beach.  This will be my second 5K but my first time doing a formal run/race with a friend.  I am looking forward to it and know that running the 5K with her will be fun, but I am also nervous.  Will I be able to keep up?  She's more athletic than me, in much better shape, and has run many 4th of July 5Ks and Turkey Trots and the like.  What if it's really hot?  What if it's too crowded?  What if I eat too much before and feel sick?  What if I don't eat enough before and feel sick?  I'm thinking about all this stuff, but the truth is, I just want to have a good time with my friend and I don't care if I'm slow or uncomfortable.  I've read enough books and blogs by proficient runners to know that everyone worries like this, no matter how immaculate their training is.  I think obsessive overthinkers are drawn to running as a sport because its solitary and contemplative nature, plus ample opportunities for analysis, breeds our habits of retreating into (and then from) our minds.

Today I decided I'd like to start blogging about my experiences with running.  I have a big plan for myself, which is that I want to run a race at every major distance between, and including, 5K to marathon by June 2014 (roughly one year from my first 5K at the Walk for Warriors). I'm also going to do a couple of extra 5Ks that are local or sound fun, like the Hermosa Beach Pier 2 Pier Run - the course for that is a loop back and forth between the Hermosa Beach Pier and the Manhattan Beach Pier, on the sand.  I want to remember how I felt throughout this process and what I thought of my training.  This blog is just for myself, and I don't know whether I'll ever share it with anyone... but maybe!  Reading running blogs, especially those written by other women around my age and with similar fitness backgrounds to me, has been really inspiring and enjoyable, so I think I'll like adding my own thoughts to that conversation.  I expect I'm going to write about everything... the actual race events I run but also my regular running training, other fitness stuff I do (like Pilates, which I have just gotten into doing in the last month, and really like), music I enjoy for runs, grandiose ideas I have about the meaning of life and how running fits into it, and of course my favorite stuff - accessories, apparel, and shoes.