Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My first 5k Race

Saturday, May 12, 2012, Palm Springs, California.
My high school buddy (to the right) and I, standing in front of what used to be our old high school. We were all smiles, ready to begin the 5k Run for Ike.
I remember back in my early school years how I dreaded running the mile as part of my performance grade for PE class. Oh the agony; running out of breath, pain on my side, feeling the heat rise to my head, getting dizzy, then being reminded of such joy-sucking and strenuous experience a few days later by the lingering soreness in my legs. Needless to say, I was never much of an athlete and I’m okay with that. Sports are not my thing. I just don’t like people chasing after me in an attempt to snag a ball from my hands. I don’t like people yelling at me, commanding me to hit a ball or to catch the darn thing. I don’t like that at the end of the game you are classified as either a winner or a loser. It’s just too much stress!
It was, however, during my second period aerobics class in high school that I discovered I really do enjoy working out! Throughout the years I’ve gone through spurts of dedication and commitment to my health, and I’ve also gone through sedentary phases where I’m “too busy” or “too tired” to go to the gym for days…weeks…and in some instances, even a couple of years. As a result, my weight has yo-yo’d quite a bit as an adult, but despite the amount of time I’ve spent making excuses, my love for a good work-out seems to resurface enabling me to place my health back at the top of my priority list, where it belongs.
It has been a little over year now that I got back into workout mode. It was a bit of a challenge to stick to a workout schedule recently as I went through a purging, decluttering, separation and moving process. At the same time, it was my time at the gym, my faith, and the time I spent running around the block that kept me sane. Wait a minute, did I say running? That awful, strenuous activity I dreaded all through my early school years? Yup! Running. 
This past January I was invited by a family member to join her in running a half marathon (13.1 miles) in La Jolla at the end of April. I knew I had built some endurance as a Zumba addict in the last year, so I accepted the challenge. Suddenly, my new fitness goal made the thought of running much more exciting!
I ran 2.25 miles around the block my first day of training. I couldn’t help but to think “what did I get myself into?” and “why would anyone ever do this to themselves?” But I didn’t give up. I kept adding more distance to my runs each time, and within 5 weeks I reached 7 miles! I felt like the freakin’ queen of the world! Whoo-hoo, what an accomplishment! I thought back at the time after my knee surgery when my doctor told me I would probably never be able to run again. Well, take that Dr. Pessimist! I was overwhelmed with gratitude (Thank You Jesus!) for having fully recovered from my freakish knee injury (I’ll share the story at another time), and joyful to still be able to dance, Zumba and run. All things that make me happy!
After that 7 mile run I began training less as I spent most of my spare time packing, all while working full-time and raising a second grader who still requires a lot of attention. When April 30th came around, the day of the big 13.1 mile race in La Jolla, I was unable to leave town to participate. I was in the middle of another race at home. Racing against time to get the last of the furniture out, cleaning the apartment and getting all moved out so that we could turn in the keys to the landlord on May 1st. I was so bummed I missed it, but found comfort in the idea that once the move was over, I would be able to fully focus on training once again and be better prepared for the next race.
A few days later, as I started settling into my new place, I searched the web to find another event to participate in. Another goal, something to keep me focused and on track with my workouts. Through my search I found the 5k Run for Ike that would be taking place locally in the middle of May. At last, a little twinkle in my eye reappeared! By signing up not only would I get to support my community and help raise funds for guide dogs and training for canine officers, but I would also be able to put myself to the test at a level better suited for the amount of training I was able to complete.
I convinced my high school buddy to join me. It was perfect timing for her as well, as she recently started her journey to a healthier lifestyle. We didn’t know what to expect, we just knew it would be fun – and it was!
I cannot describe the feeling of satisfaction once you cross the finish line. Once you complete the race and see that you survived, you realize it’s not so bad after all. My timing wasn’t much to brag about, but still pretty good for someone who just started running 4 months ago. I averaged 12 minutes per mile and completed the race in 38 minutes and 27 seconds. Truth be told, I don’t enjoy running as much as I enjoy Zumba, but I do enjoy seeing my progress. I do enjoy seeing and feeling the physical results as my body changes and becomes stronger. I enjoy the variety in my workout schedule and I enjoy accomplishing something I never thought I’d be able to do again. I think I’m hooked now! 
And so the training continues as I search for other races to participate in. Truth is, it really doesn’t matter if I never get to be one of the top 3 winners. I see it more as a race against myself, as an opportunity to beat my own time as I get stronger, faster, and better at it. I’m now looking to run a 6k in October and half marathon in either November or December. Wish me luck!
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