Thursday, December 6, 2012

On running my first 5K race

Welcome to the Body: AMAZING Carnival!

This post was written as a part of the Body: AMAZING Carnival co-hosted by Jennifer of True Confessions of a Real Mommy and Amy of Anktangle. Carnival participants were invited to write about how we learn to appreciate the ways our bodies grow and change. Our posts explain some incredible ways our bodies impress and amaze us.

Please read to the bottom to find a list of submissions from all of today's carnival participants.

before West Seattle 5k race running
Before the race, number pinned, ready to head out.
I am not a runner. I am not even a jogger. But a few years ago, I set out to either confirm my suspicions — or prove myself wrong.

I started Couch to 5K as a challenge to see if I was the only person in the world who could fail the gradual 9-week program.

During my first run for C25K (that is to say, 60 seconds of jogging alternating with 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes — and yet I managed only 10!), I was disappointed and vindicated to find that my lungs were heaving and I nearly collapsed on my way back home, feeling defeated. I went online and found the advice to go slower. So I did. Like, turtle with a walker slow. I made it through the rest of the program (eventually — there was an interruption in there called my pregnancy with Alrik). I was so proud of myself the first time I jogged half an hour without stopping! That was a huge accomplishment for pseudo-asthmatic little me.

Now, when I started Couch to 5K, one reason I chose the self-study program over joining a local beginner running class was that the local ones made you sign up for a 5K at the end, whereas C25K just suggested it. I knew I didn't want to run a race. I was content to be embarrassing myself in private, thankyouverymuch.

I kept hearing of other people running 5Ks and thinking, Yeah, all right, fine for you — but not for me. Nuh-uh.

In the spirit of "never say never," I found myself earlier this year wondering if I should maybe sign up for a 5K. Just as a lark — a joke! Without training! Or caring! Or looking at my time!

I floated the idea to Sam, sure he'd shoot it down. "Yeah, that sounds fun," he said. "Go for it." Traitor.

Here are my journaled thoughts on the process of signing up for and completing my first 5K race:

May 12

I was in a local restaurant today when I spotted a poster for a 5K walk/run. And the starting point (and finishing point, since it doubles back) is half a block from my door. Serendipity!

Until I look at the date: May 20. And do some quick calculations. Um … that's a week from tomorrow. That would be stupid, right? To sign up for a race on a whim like that?

I look up online whether there are any other 5Ks coming up along our stretch of beach, and there is one … but not till August. Well, shoot — August seems like way too far away now that I know I could be out there running in a week!

Registration closes May 17. Hmm … should I?

May 13

My running was very spotty throughout my pregnancy and postpartum — as in, heavy the first trimester, then tapering off after some bleeding started, and then ending entirely until Alrik was several months old, at which time I took it up again, but sporadically.

But a couple months ago I started in again more intentionally. I've been trying to run every other day. Which means, for me, that I go no more than every other day but sometimes every other other day. And occasionally other other other. Other. But I feel the lack now when I skip, and I actually want to run.

I just wrote that sentence. Me. I actually want to run. There have been times during my runs when I'm feeling worn out and start walking, and after a minute or so, it feels stultifying, and I have to start running again, like a relief. Me!

If my former gym teachers could only hear me now.

May 14

I decide to time myself on a run. I've always run for time, not distance, through C25K. As in, I run 25 minutes, or most recently, 40 minutes, but I have no idea how far I'm traveling in that time span.

I download a GPS pedometer app on my phone and run for 40 minutes, along with a five-minute walking warmup and a matching cool-down. The mileage and time-per-mile it gives me are … um … embarrassing, to say the least.

Near humiliating.

Clearly, I should not be racing. This is stupid. The walkers are going to be pushing past me.

May 15

I'm still considering it. No one will laugh at me — right? I hope?

It's so hot that I've been trying to buy new running gear for summer. But I keep having to return things because it turns out they're too small or unflattering. I'm now hoping no one makes fun of the fat runner. They don't do that, do they? At races?

I have this sudden impression of me being the last one across the line. Everyone will be cheering me on — but it will be pity cheers.

Like in gym class.


May 16

Registration closes tomorrow. I grab a credit card, fill in my information, and click send before I can think it through any more rationally.

I'm a runner!

I almost registered myself as a walker, so my (lack of) speed would be less embarrassing. But, no, dang it, I'm doing this race because I've been running. Ok, shuffling. But I identify with the runners! I want to be one of them.

After I get my confirmation, it says to pick up my bib, timing chip, and complementary tech t-shirt the day before the race. I am giddy with this thought. I get a bib with a number on it! No matter how well or poorly I do at running, I get a bib with a number! On my chest! This is so cool! I never thought I'd be someone who had a number on her front.

May 17

Running as a mother is tough. I keep feeling like I'm inconveniencing all my boys when I want to jog. Mikko wants to come with me (but, yeah, that wouldn't work). Alrik wants to come with me for sure, but I don't have a jogging stroller. Sam is usually trying to get off to work or do something else that I have to cut into.

It's actually kind of nice to have a race, because I can say, "Well, I have to keep up my training!"

I've been reading Run Like a Mother: How to Get Moving — and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity, and even though I'm far behind these ladies in terms of experience and skill, it's fun to read from others who mix mamahood with athletic endeavors.

May 18

I've been enjoying running with music. I don't know why I never tried that until recently. Oh, no, I do know — because it seems unsafe to have your ears plugged. But! Oh, it's so motivating. I've decided I don't want to race with headphones on, though (I want to be able to connect with the people around me and anyone cheering us on, plus hear any safety messages), which I hope doesn't throw my inspiration out the window.

I'm having the panicky thoughts again — about all the sad things that could happen in this stupid race. Why did I sign up for this again?

May 19

I drive with Mikko to pick up my race kit. I worry that they'll look at my body type and refuse to hand it over, but they're not douchebags and this isn't a nightmare. It ends up being fun, because Mikko's in a good mood and excited about the idea of a race, and he offers to race me to the registration table and back again. So we run together, my little guy holding my hand.

I know the kids can run or walk the 5K, too, and their registration is free, but I also know there's no way he'd hold up for the whole thing. I wonder if he can walk part of it — like, when I'm coming in to the finish, can he join me a little ways out? I can't think how to ask someone this, and anyway, Sam's been caviling on whether he'll even get up and out that early in the morning, with two (nocturnal) boys.

But I like that my running is inspiring Mikko to consider his own body's abilities, and I hope that someday we can run together some more!

May 20

It's race day. It's 8:41 a.m., and I've eaten breakfast and gotten dressed in my racing duds. I'd better stop writing and start running! Wish me luck.

Pictures from the day:

getting ready for West Seattle 5k race
Warming up for the race

start line for West Seattle 5k race
And we're off!
They grouped us according to perceived speed. I started way back with the strollers in the jogging section just before the walkers. Never mind that most of the people behind me ended up passing me…

running the West Seattle 5k race
My view.
At one point a man probably in his 90s with knee braces passed me.
I told myself it was because I'd slowed to take a picture.

running the West Seattle 5k race
The view behind me. All walkers.

running the West Seattle 5k race
Since the race was up and back in a long loop, soon the faster people started passing me heading toward the finish line. I noticed a lot of parent-kid pairs and was impressed by these kids' speed and the parents' apparent encouragement and training. I wondered if Mikko and I would ever be that fast together. (Hint: no.)

running the West Seattle 5k race
You can see the runners heading back are booking it, and the folks in front of me are leisurely strolling. Ah, well.

running the West Seattle 5k race
Happy to have rounded the cones at the halfway point and now heading back toward the finish line! Take that, slowest walkers.

running the West Seattle 5k race
Sam, Mikko, and Alrik on their way to meet me at the finish line. I had gotten tired of shirts being too small for me so ordered an extra-large, not considering it would be MEN's extra large. Since it's a non-shrinkable fabric, I declined to wear it. Mikko found it that morning and decided it was perfect for him.

running the West Seattle 5k race
I was so happy to see their smiling faces as I neared the finish.
Mikko ran into the race path to finish the final yards with me.

10:32 a.m. I did it! I am on SUCH A HIGH right now.

running the West Seattle 5k race

I ran the whole way. I know it's no shame to intersperse walking with jogging, and I saw plenty of others doing it (who were in front of me — which just goes to prove my point that it's a healthy idea, ha ha), but my personal goal was to jog the entire distance. And I did!

Even when Mikko joined me toward the end, I kept it up by cheering him on. That felt really good!

My feet hurt!

I ate half a banana. I never eat bananas. They were handing them out after the race, and eating one felt like a very runner thing to do.

running the West Seattle 5k race
Just for your continued amusement: Mikko's race-day outfit. He also found my hat, if you can't tell. It was rather drizzly, so good call. After the race, we were about the only ones who stayed and enjoyed the street festival.

Later in May

I'm feeling more and more embarrassed that I ran the race. I worry now that I was soiling the spirit of the 5K by being so slow. Is that possible?

I keep flashing back to all the runners who passed me (and I do mean all the runners), and the fact that probably half the walkers passed me as well.

But … I feel better now that I was able to let the fact that I ran a 5K drop casually into a phone call with my parents. You should have heard their surprise and admiration! They know as well as anyone how not a runner I am.

Since then

My 5K experience was a mix of pride and fun on the one hand, and shame and inadequacy on the other, much like athletics have always been in my life! I know how hard it was for me to do what I did, but I have these stupid fears that all the people watching me didn't know and were judging me for jogging when a 5K is supposed to be a dash.

But, here's what turned my thinking around on that score: Mikko's response. He didn't see me as a failure of a runner; he saw me as someone who won a race! (He really doesn't understand that I didn't place.)

And it made him want to run a race, which was awesome.

We signed up for the Seattle Kids Marathon, which we completed last week with the downtown 1.2-mile kids dash. During our training (25 "honor" miles in advance) and the race, he jogged a bit but mostly walked — or shuffled (like, seriously, astonishingly slowly! apparently it's genetic) — but he didn't feel any embarrassment or anxiety about it. I did, still. Clearly I have some hangups about proper race participation and outsiders judging!

But Mikko was satisfied with his accomplishment and proud of his "first-place" medal (ummm…yeah…first place! Woo! NB: All the participants got a medal). He was so excited at our victory lunch at the teriyaki restaurant when I read that his fortune cookie slip said, "You won first place in a race today!" (I seriously don't intend to lie to him; I just always underestimate his gullibility.) He dashed with me to show the proprietor how fitting his fortune was and show off his medal. The owner's English is a little limited, so I tried to indicate by facial expressions that he really just needed to nod and smile.

I'll do a followup post soon on the whole kids-race experience. I'll tell you now that the 25 long training miles were the impetus for asking my Facebook peeps how the heck you convince children to take long walks, and the guest-post response from Ariadne of Positive Parenting Connection.

So … I haven't run another 5K since my race, and I haven't even been doing much running at all lately, but now I know it's possible. And I'm so glad that Mikko now knows it's possible, too! If he grows up feeling at all like me — that he's an eternal outsider looking in on the jocks — I hope these experiences in his childhood remind him that his body can do anything he wants it to. He might never be the fastest, but he can race.

And that's what I keep telling myself. I wasn't some 5K superstar, but I was a race finisher! And I never, never, never thought I'd be able to say that about myself.

Have you run any races? Has your body ever accomplished something you never dreamed it could do?

More to read and love about honoring our bodies at these other blogs. Please visit them all and leave some comment love!

Body Amazing CarnivalJennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy is moved to trust her body, even the fuzzy parts. You can also find Jennifer on Facebook and Twitter.

Amy of Anktangle writes about living with chronic pain and how she appreciates the ways her body functions in spite of its challenges. You can also find Amy on Facebook and Twitter.

Mari from Honey on the Bum talks a little bit about how her body has changed and how she loves it and what it does for her. You can also find Mari on Twitter.

Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about why she's not worried about how her body looks, because it has a much more important job right now.

Joella from Fine and Fair discusses her love and respect for her body as it grows and changes during pregnancy over. Hear more from Joella on Twitter and Facebook.

Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow on how Paganism taught her to accept reality and by extension herself and her body. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work shares about her love/hate relationship with a nose that she saw as ugly . . . until she started to learn to love it. Amy W. can also be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

Destany at They Are All of Me writes about releasing the negative notions she was taught about her period, and embracing it instead.

Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children talks about how she had to push through her pre-conditioned comfort level and found herself in a position to naturally be open and honest with her children. More great stuff from Mandy on Facebook.

Lauren at Hobo Mama is not a runner . . . but she proved herself wrong by completing a race. Keep up with Lauren's adventures on Twitter and Facebook.


desfenton said...

I really enjoyed this post! A few years ago when I started running. I started off very small, only going a mile at a time and walking half of the way. It was several months before I was able to do 3 miles, but I would still walk as I needed to.

Although I never ran an official 5k because I never happened upon one that felt suitable, I still remember the first time I ran 3.5 miles without walking. That is a HUGE feat!

I must confess though... I'm also not so much a runner as I am a shuffler. My pace was agonizingly, embarrassingly slow. I smiled when you talked about walkers and old men with knee braces passing you because that would be me as well.

I haven't gone "running" in a while, but I want to now. Thanks for sharing your post! You accomplished something really big, that most people could never do. I know I couldn't!

Marysa said...

Congrats! That is a huge accomplishment!

I have been trying to get into working out, but my husband is so busy that it is difficult to fit into my schedule, and then inevitably the kids or I get sick and I have to take a hiatus, and it is like starting from scratch.

A whole bunch of mom's from my daughter's preschool are into running and do lots of races together. I do think signing up for a race helps make it more of a reality and harder to slack off, at least for me! I haven't done that yet, but I think I would like to!

Jenn said...

I love this post so much! You know I'm a huge proponent of Couch to 5K, and I love hearing how other people experienced it.

I'm a painfully slow runner too - at my last half marathon, I was passed by a power-walking woman who was at least 30 years older than me. No lie. But, we both saw the same sights, got the same race shirt, and wound up with the same finisher's medal at the end. It isn't your time that counts, it's your experience during that time.

Shannon said...

I think it's so great that your accomplishment (and it is one! I've certainly never run a race) is such an inspiration to Mikko. Good job!

Unknown said...

Congratulations again on completing the 5K! (As you know) I did a 5K in the Spring, and I didn't run the whole way. I think it's easy to get down on ourselves while comparing ourselves to others, but what's important for both of us is that we showed up and did what we could. I love that Mikko was inspired by your effort, too. You're such an amazing mama!

kellymseow said...

"He didn't see me as a failure of a runner; he saw me as someone who won a race!" - I adore that! It is so, so hard to see from that viewpoint and yet how true it is. And good for you Lauren - you are awesome! :D

Mandy said...

You are an inspiration. I, too, am not a runner, at all. Maybe I will try again at some point.

Joella said...

So, what you're saying is, *I'm* the only person to have ever failed at completing C25K? ;p

Congratulations on your accomplishment! I hope to one day follow in your footsteps and break my "I don't run unless I'm being chased" rule. ;)

Julia said...

I failed the C25K, I never was able to pass the jog for 28min. :( That being said, as long as I run intervals I can make it. I'm running my first 5K this weekend and I'm definately struggling with inadequacy issues and embarrassment. but I'm going to do it

Lauren Wayne said...

@Julia: Good for you! I'm cheering you on. :)

The Maltese Penguin said...

Well done on the 5K. How did your running go afterwards? And have you ever heard of parkrun? It is a free, weekly timed 5K run (which celebrates it's 10th anniversary this weekend, in fact.) It originated in England but there are parkruns in quite a few countries now, including a toehold in the USA. It is something which has proved very useful for a lot of people in similar situations to you.

Though I guess running might not be a priority for you just now - good luck with the new hatchling.

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