I was wide awake by the time 5:00am showed on my clock. As I looked down at the foot of my bed, I could barely make out the “5” without my glasses. No sense in sleeping anymore…it was time to get up.
We were at the local farmer’s market by 6:50am and got a great parking spot (as you’d expect). I was dressed in my t-shirt and shorts and ready to make a quick dash in and out of the market. I needed to drive 70 minutes to Kentville for the 9:30am registration, so there wasn’t time for the regular “laissez faire” approach that we normally take on a Saturday morning.
I wasn’t nervous, but was definitely excited. Not overly excited, though…just enough to keep my blood pumping. After all, I had run just over 5km on a couple of different occasions during my Couch-to-5K training…this was gonna be a breeze.
As we arrived at the destination, the clouds were heavy and the rain was slowly coming down. Nothing major…but more than a mist. I didn’t want to have to worry about cleaning my glasses every two seconds, so we quickly drove to the closest Walmart and picked up a $8 hat to help protect me from the elements.
We both stood in line to pick up my package. I was surprised by the number of last-minute registrations going on. I thought everybody who did this kind of thing knew they were going to run before the day of the event?
But what do I know? I just wanted top pick up my t-shirt and my bib.
At this point, we were just sitting in the car and waiting for the next 45 minutes to pass. I was a little intimidated, I won’t lie. For the most part, these people looked like some hardcore runners. Here I was in my first 5K, just hoping to not embarrass myself. I didn’t want to freak out like I did the year before when I walked a half-marathon (I got really nervous before that event).
A quick last-minute trip to the “facilities” and I was ready to go. There was a quick ½ km walk to the start/finish line, and that helped to build my nerves a little bit. Thankfully, my wife was right next to me to assure me that it didn’t matter what I looked like in my big-ass headphones. The only thing that mattered was my ability to focus on the task at hand: be steady and run in my own comfort zone. I really took some time to concentrate…
Thankfully, my wife had me feeling pretty relaxed.
As the race began, I fumbled with my iPhone to ensure that I had my MapMyRun app running and my music was blaring. I wanted to make sure I knew how far I was and what my pace was, especially where I was unfamiliar with the course.
As it turns out, the course was simply a back-and-forth straight line…which totally worked in my favour. The good news was that it was a paved trail that covered what used to be a railroad track, so it was extremely flats and, really, the best option for me running a race for the first time.
I felt really strong in the first half of the race. I hardly took any breaks and I felt as though I had the wind at my back.
Realistically, though, I was at the back of the pack and passing a couple of the folks who were walking the course. Sigh…
As we neared the halfway marker, I did pass a couple groups who were also doing a walk/run pace as I was. For whatever reason, my pace was just a little bit faster than theirs. I passed them, grabbed a bottle of water, and turned around for the second half.
This is where things seemed to really slow down for me.
I felt as though I was stopping WAY too much. I had pain in the sides of my stomach, my right knee began acting up, and I was having a difficult time catching my breath. I wasn’t sure what, exactly, the problem was other than the fact that maybe I didn’t take enough breaks during the first half…resulting in my body not agreeing with the pace I had set for myself.
People that I had passed were passing me. I was feeling defeated. I was at the very back of the pack and couldn’t seem to get my pace going.
I think, though, a lot of that was in my head.
As I entered the final kilometer, I knew that I wanted to look strong for the final stretch because I didn’t want to look weak in front of my wife. She runs marathons for crying out loud…I couldn’t let her see me walk or limp over the finish line.
So I slowed down again. I had to catch my breath before making that last ditch effort to look strong. I saw the end in the distance.
And off I went.
I slugged on…and on…and didn’t care what my body was telling me. I was going to finish this 5K by running and I was going to look strong in front of my awesome wife.
I could see her cheering me on. Her smile was a mile wide. That only helped to encourage me.
For some reason, she began to wave her arms and tell me to “hurry” as I got to the end. OMG…was I looking that bad? Were those people I passed going to catch up and fly by me at the end of this thing??
I crossed the finish line and was met with a flurry of high-fives from the people who were standing there crowding the end (waiting for their own friends & co-runners to arrive). I felt relieved and elated.
I turned and gave my wife a huge hug. She told me my time: 39:52
She was telling me to hurry up because she knew I’d be really happy with getting under 40 minutes. She was right, as she usually is.
After taking a post-race selfie, I changed and we jumped into the car to head back to the city. The whole thing seemed quite surreal until Saturday evening, when I started going through the pictures that you see here. Between that and the ton of positive comments I got on Facebook (Sunshine was proudly telling the world that I was running my 5K as I was running it), it all began to sink in. I had done something that I never, ever would have thought possible a few short months ago.
I mean, I’ve tried running before. I disliked it immensely. I even tried walking, but after that half-marathon I said “NOPE” to ever doing it again for exercise.
I was the very definition of “couch potato”. Hell…the Couch-to-5K app should use me as a spokesperson because I’m the literal couch-to-5K person. I went from sitting on my ass to getting outside at -20 at 6am. And now? Now I’m the guy who ran a sub-40-minute 5K on his first attempt.
What’s next? I’m not sure, but I think I’m going to rest this week. I need to sit back and not only reflect on my accomplishment, but try to figure out my next move. I owe it to myself to continue doing this. I can’t just slap my hands together and say “I’m done”. I’m worth more than that
I’m not sure what the future holds, but I can tell you that this was one experience I’ll never forget.