It was an exciting weekend around our house. After completing months (and by this I mean multiple attempts over 4 years) I finished my 5K training and Ben, Sam and I completed our first “race”. Ben and Sam ran the Austin CASA Superhero 1K and I ran the 5K. Despite her protests, our daughter sat in the stroller with the iPad.
Running a 5K is a huge accomplishment for me and something that I never thought I would be able to do. Earlier this summer I shared the things that I learned from Couch to 5K. Today, I thought I would share the things that I learned from my first 5K.
What I Learned from 5K Training and My First 5K
Prepare – I decided to use the Zen Labs 5K training program. That was my foundation. I trained for months for this race. I started slow on the treadmill. When school started, I found a nice Kelty jogging stroller on Craigslist for $100. My 18 month old and I moved the training outside. I spent the next 5 weeks promising my daughter, “We are almost to the slide. . . ” all while shoving cereal, fruit snacks, toys and the occasional pink doughnut at her to keep her appeased. Seriously, pink donuts. She’d probably run a marathon with my if I had a dozen.
To specifically train for this race, I ran the route twice before the big day. I wanted to know what to expect. The first time, I ran it with my super fit friend Tracy. She gave me lots of tips and encouragement. The second time, I ran it on my own with Elly. It helped me feel comfortable until the week of the race when I found they had changed the course. Oh, well.
Commit – Besides training, for me the big push came when I actually picked a race and committed to it. I sealed the deal by getting my family involved. Once I showed Sam the video for the “Batman Race” he was all in. There were points that I thought that maybe I’d just run the 1k so I made myself accountable and shared our goal with others. There is nothing like fear of looking like a big fat quitter to help you complete a goal. I had finished my 5K training so I was going to finish a 5K. We also took it one step further and made a goal to raise money for CASA. Together, Sam and I raised $140. Not too bad and we got a special running shirt. If you get people you love to donate money then you better follow through.
Get there early – Ben and I can never agree on what time we need to arrive at places. I like to be extra early, especially if it is something like a flight, meeting or race. Ben, not so much. He doesn’t like to stand around. We arrived 45 minutes before the start of the 1K. This gave us plenty of time to find parking, walk to the starting area and check out all of the activities. We had time to take fun photos, soak up the atmosphere and find our photo spots. Plus, the excitement of seeing the other runners in costume helped Sam get even more excited for the race.
Take a support group – Along the course there were tons of people cheering and pushing you on. Let’s face it, you can’t just walk past people cheering for you. You have to use your “Speed Boost” as Sam calls it. Also, I mentioned before, getting my family involved made a big difference. It was a great opportunity for us to do something together. I made a sign for Sam and Ben made one for me. Us girls had a great time waiting at the finish line for “Sam and Daddy.” Ben’s wait was a little more, er, challenging with two kids. But for all of the hassle (and the cracked iPad screen) that Ben put up with, it meant so much to see my sweet little family yelling and cheering for me as I came around to the finish line. A high-five from your 5 yr old is enough to push any mom past the finish line.
Find your speed – I did all of my outdoor 5K training (2 months) pushing Elly in the jogging stroller in the steamy Texas August/September heat. Not an easy task. I was really tempted to push her in the race simply because we had trained together and I thought it would be a fun thing to finish together. And she’s kinda my crutch. Eventually, I realized that this race was for me. It was my accomplishment and I wanted to do my best. By losing the extra weight pushed throughout my training – the toddler, the stroller and 30 lbs of Tracey – I was able to take SIX AND A HALF MINUTES off my fastest 5K training run. I found myself naturally running faster than I anticipated. I took walk times where I needed to and ran when I was ready. Ben couldn’t believe my progress and how quickly I made it to the finish line. My time was official time was even 30 seconds faster than what Runkeeper on my phone said. I didn’t come in last. There were over 200 people behind me. I’m still feeling mighty proud of that.
Have Fun – As terrifying as it was to put my 5K training to the test, it was a fantastic experience. I cannot say enough about the CASA Superhero Run. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. The energy of the crowd was infectious. The costumes added an air of fun to the entire event. Finally, sharing the event with my family was a great way for us to do something together.
So if you are debating taking the 5K training plunge, I say, “Go for it.” One of my sisters has started 5K training and my other sister is contemplating it along with it my mom. Who knew that we would be a family of “runners”?