Oct 17, 2011 7:04 AM
I woke up this past Tuesday with a "scratchy" throat. That kind of feeling I get right before a cold hits. So I loaded up on vitamin C, drank lots of fluids, but it was too late. By Wednesday, my nose was running, I was sneezing and coughing. I medicated myself with some over the counter cold medicine and got a good nights rest on Wednesday night. I got up Thursday and went out for a run. I was congested, so the run was a nightmare. I could barely run 1/2 a mile before I felt like my lungs were going to give out. I ended up running 2 1/2 miles, but it was a very slow process with lots of walk breaks. So I almost bailed out and didn't show up for my 5k on Sunday. Thanks to my wife, she insisted that I go. She said I had worked hard and that I would do great. The congested associated with my cold really had me worried and I thought it was be a real hinderance.
So Sunday morning comes and as we drive to the 5k, I have butterflies. I eat a Clif Bar and banana on the way to race, sign in, and do some light stretching and warm up. Played with my son a bit before the start, which really helped take my mind off of things. I line up about 2/3 of the way back from the pack of runners and the horn sounds...
It's a bit of a slow start. The lead pack goes out at breakneck speed and is quickly 1/4 mile ahead. I was in a cluster of runners, so I took it slow. I purposely didn't look at my Nike+ to see my current pace. It felt like I was going slow, and I knew if I looked down as saw I was running at a 12 minute per mile pace, I would freak and speed up. I ran for about 1/2 a mile and got into the open. I passed by a few people, as we approached the first big uphill stretch. A lot of people sprinted and ran out of gas by the time they hit the top. I took the hill slow and trudged along. I noticed a lot of people slowed down or stopped to walk after attacking the first hill. I kept going at a nice even pace. Before I knew it, I was at the first mile marker and feeling good.
At around 1.25 miles I started seeing runners heading back the other way. They had made the turn and were heading back towards the finish line. One of the runners was running barefoot and he seemed to be flying. He was running so gracefully, like he was gliding. I estimated they were about 1/2 mile ahead of me.
I passed a few more people as we approached the 1.5 mile mark and turned around to head for home. I was at the half way point and feeling good. I got into an open stretch where it was just me and one other person. I stayed behind them for the next 1/2 mile or so. They seemed to be running at a comfortable pace so I used them as my pace setter. Then we reached the backside of the long uphill and they pulled ahead. I maintained my pace, and crested the hill. I let my momentum carry me down the hill, and ended up passing the person I was pacing. She stopped to walk after the hill.
I looked down at my Nike+ app on my phone and saw that I was at about 22 minutes into the race. I started doing some math in my head and tried to figure out if I was on pace to run a sub 30 minute 5k (which was my goal). At this point I think I was about 2 1/4 miles into the race. I figured it would be close, but I would try. I continued on, and I looked down at one point and I was at about 27 minutes and 2.75 miles. I thought my chances of finishing in under 30 minutes was done. We turned down a few side streets and I saw my wife and son. My wife was snapping pictures and I gave her and my son a wave. As I looked up I saw the finish line. The clock was at 28:30, I was going to do it. I turned it on and sprinted for the finish. I finished strong at the clock read 29:25. I was so pumped.
Then as I stopped, a wave of nausea hit me. Not sure if it was the small cup of water I drank at the turn, or what. I quickly walked from the finish area and started looking for a trash can where I could discretely throw up. Before I could get to one, I felt my breakfast coming up. Oh no, this great moment was going to be ruined. I somehow kept things down, as I scanned for a trash can, sewer, anything I could toss my cookies into. Then I looked back and saw my wife and son walking towards me and the nausea dissipated as quickly as it came. I picked my son up and said "Daddy did it". I felt like I had just won a gold medal. It was awesome. Luckily the wave of nausea never came back. I guess it was just nerves.
I discovered a few things. 1) My Nike+ app is about .5 of a mile off. 2) Running at a steady pace is so important. When I run by myself, I tend to roller coaster throughout the run. Running with a group allowed me to start off slow and avoid that initial tendency I have for starting out wat too fast. 3) The race atmosphere really inspires you to do your best 4) I am hooked 5) I had a lot of gas left in the tank. Not sure if it was adrenaline or what, but I felt like I could have run a lot further.
If you've done the Couch to 5K and are hesitant to sign up for your first 5k event, do be. The weather now is perfect, and if you did the work, you have established a fitness level that will allow you to finish. Run smart, and don't burn yourself out trying to keep up with the lead pack. The winner of my 5k finished in around 16 minutes. No way I could have kept up. Find your pace, and stick with it. You will feel awesome when you finish, no matter what your finish time is. Just remember YOU WILL FINISH!
Couch to 5k completed: 7/15/2011
USPTO 5K 10/16/2011; 29:14 110/238
Bull Run Festival of Lights 5K 12/31/2011; 31:30 324/683
Primal Mud Run 4/14/2012; 1:29:29
Cody's Crew 5k 9/16/2012 31:15