Today is the day! After training since January, today I ran in my first ever 5K. It was a great experience, which I will share from two angles: why run and why this 5K?
I decided to try running because I needed an outlet...as a stay at home mom of 4, I can get stressed out sometimes. Okay, so it's more than "sometimes." It's an endless job and I don't get lunch breaks or sick time, so it can be really hard to stay healthy and get in shape. I nursed all my babies for a year each, and I think I used the "I'm nursing so I need to eat" excuse for a long time. Then, as the kids got older, and I would bustle around the kitchen getting their lunches and refilling their cups, I would go without eating breakfast and lunch. By the time 2pm rolled around, I was rather cranky and also shaking and starving, so I would gobble down a bag of pretzels or a box of cheez-its! I am definitely a "fad" dieter. I love a new "kick." I'm a lifetime member of Weight Watchers and am currently below my goal weight (yipee!) but that isn't always the case. I've done "South Beach" four times now, losing 6-11 pounds on Phase One every time. I also tried "Skinny Bitch" for a short while, but I love cheese too much to be a true vegan. Needless to say, dieting alone is not enough of a lifestyle change for me to achieve/maintain the body image I desire. One other note: I am unbelievable cranky when my clothes are tight. The thought of the button on my pants pressing into belly...the feeling of my muffin top exploding over the top of my low-rise jeans...the sight of my fat rolls bulging around my bra straps...these are horrific feelings and images for me, and I am angry and grumpy all day!! So exercise became a necessity for me to be a happier wife and mom. Obstacles: money for a gym membership; time to go to a gym; I didn't want to put my children in a gym day care program. Solution: the first time I went running, I was actually just going out for a walk...it was January, freezing cold, and dark outside. But it felt SOOOO good to get out of the house! It was dinner time, and I left the house with dinner on the table and my husband and four children eating. I HAD to get out for a few minutes! And before I knew it, I was RUNNING down the hill...what a feeling of liberation! I love my family dearly, but it was wonderful to clear my head! After maybe five minutes, my legs started itchy (that always used to happen to me when I would try to "exercise" for more than a minute or two.) I slowed down and walked for half an hour, and when I returned home, I felt so refreshed. A few days later, I googled running programs and found the Couch to 5K on the www.coolrunnings.com web site. There, I found a 9-week training program for beginners. It looked reasonable, so I made up my mind to do it. Next, I remembered a friend who held a 5K every Mother's Day weekend in memory of her son, so I put it on the calendar and counted off the weeks. I had 14 weeks to get ready. It was plenty of time, and training three days a week, I was able to do it!!
So why this 5K? My friend lost her 6-month-old baby to malignant infantile osteopetrosis (MIOP) in January of 2006. "Ryan's Run" is held on the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend in his memory, and to raise money to research a cure for this terrible disease. Their web site is under construction, but please check back and learn more at www.curemiop.org. I wanted to support this cause and this family, and I also knew this would be a great way to ease into the world of 5K's. It was an amazing experience. The event was held in the family's own neighborhood, beginning in front of their home.
The run, itself, was scary for me at first. So many people running at once! I was used to either my treadmill at home or a quiet neighborhood. I started way too fast (a common newbie mistake, I'm told), but people were sprinting!! I calmed myself down until I heard a dog chain come up beside me and I almost lost it...I am terrified of dogs! Anyway, the dog and owner passed me and I got into a nice, steady groove. Some people passed me, later I passed many who had started out sprinting. By the end, there were certainly a bunch ahead of me, but as I crossed the finish line (still not positive, but I think my time was 31:45), I was happy to have done it without stopping or walking. True, I was 1:45 over my goal, but the bigger goal was to complete the 5K and to do so without walking. Now I can try some interval training (speeding up for short periods of time within my run, then resuming my regular pace), and hope to improve my overall time.
One thing I'm noticing is I'm a little down right now (5 hours post run.) Not sure if it's remembering all that happened with Baby Ryan, or if runners tend to get blue after a race is over. I am more motivated than ever to work on improving my time and to register for my next 5K: Freihofer's Run for Women on May 30th!
* I couldn't have done it without my training partner, my hubby, Frank, who watched our herd o'kids while I trained!!!!