I’m a finisher! – completing my first 5K

You can also watch me talk about this on my YouTube channel.

It seemed like this Fall, especially in October, my social media feeds were inundated with so many people running 5ks or half marathons or starting the couch-to-5k program. And every one was so proud and happy and looking like, despite the whole running thing, they were having a good time. And all of a sudden I was all like “I want to run a race and feel accomplished and get a medal and swag and have people cheer me on”…

And then the Wii Fit U challenged started up and I knew I wanted to do anything to get as much distance as possible and help my team win. So I started researching 5Ks in Chicago. But I knew, having just come off of some not-pneumonia-but-close sickness, running probably was out of the picture. Not to mention, c25k programs take, what, 8-9 weeks… The challenge was 4 weeks. But I knew I could walk. I could walk a lot.

So early in November, I signed up for my very first 5K race: the Grant Park Turkey Trot 5k run/walk. I was all excited and started to “train” for it. Even though I was just walking, I wanted to keep a good pace and see if I could get a personal best.

Well, Saturday after Thanksgiving was the race. Since it was downtown and I live in the northern-most neighborhood, it meant getting up before the sun to get ready. I took the bus down to the park, and as I walked up to the starting area a crowd was already forming. I was there early enough, and had already gotten my bib the night before… so all I could do was just stand around and wait.

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It was a cold-ish day. In the 30’s. But given that it was in the teens previously that week, it was actually “warm.” I had layered up — thermal leggings, knee-high tube socks, my running pants, sports bra, thermal compression shirt, running shirt, fleece jacket, puffy vest, gloves, fleece headband, and knit hat — but standing around it was a bit chilly. Also, I tried not to pay attention to the fact that almost everyone had someone else to hangout/race with. I was one of the very few people there by themselves.

Close to 9am, people started lining up. So I milled about a little closer to that group. But something felt odd, I thought we were racing the other way… Turns out I was right and everyone had lined up on the wrong side of the finish line. So we corrected that, and I tried to put myself somewhat close to the back. Since I was walking, I didn’t want to get in the way of the runners.

Anyway. We start. And as soon as I round the first corner for the mile by the lake, shin splints. My legs KILLED. But it was either slow down to a super slow walk, and still have my legs hurt, or stop and stretch and lose time… or just push through it. So I pushed through it. After the first mile, and some water, my right leg was fine. As I closed in on the second mile marker my left leg stopped hurting as well. Also, by that point I was plenty warm enough.

Since I was doing this by myself, I decided to find other racers to pace off of. First it was two guys walking in front of me. But I passed them before the 1 mile marker. Then I found an older lady who was keeping a nice quick walking pace. In fact, her pace was just that much quicker than me that I lost her for a bit and ended up following this girl in a foot cast. When I got back to the park area was was in the final mile, I found the old lady. Then I passed her. Then I was sort of on my own for my pace through the end of the race.

My gun time was 54:17, but since I was towards the back of the pack, that meant my starting time included me just waiting for the group to move forward. My actual time was 49:04. It was my fastest 5k.

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I’m really proud of myself for doing this. For signing up. For walking. For not giving up or slowing down. For not cutting off that last loop around the park and cheating like I saw 2 girls in front of me do.

I completely understand why people race. Especially when there’s good swag (in this case a super comfy hoodie) and finishers medals. A “runner’s” high is a real thing. Though maybe in my case it’s more of a finisher’s high.

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I absolutely plan on doing more 5Ks, even plan on running them too. (But waiting to start the c25k program until after the Chicago snow/ice stuff is done.) I’ve even talked to my stepmom about finding a family-friendly race that we could do together with my younger sisters next Fall. I just can’t wait for the next one!

Also: Congrats to Lacey for also finishing her first (and second) 5K race! She was definitely one of the people to inspire me to start this up. Paige was also another inspiration — wish I would have known about the Hot Chocolate 15/5K before!