Second 5K of the summer

Just finish before the pregnant lady. And the nine-year-old.

When I wrote down my goals for today’s 5k, I thought of three things: Finish it. Finish it in under 40 minutes. If you’re having a good day, finish it in under 36:10. 

Then, I got to the start of the 5K, which was in what you would call a “tony” part of town. And when I saw the pregnant woman pushing the stroller with a number attached to her shirt and the kids – lots and lots of kids – I told myself the first statement of this post, and texted it to a runner friend of mine in Canada.

The starting line wasn’t really clear, just a line of blue tape across a side street. And then the race started – with an actual starting gun, and before I knew it, people started jogging. At a really fast pace. And I was jolted to run. But as I went through that first half mile, I watched all the happy runners in front of me and thought, by the first mile and a half, a lot of these people will be walking. 

Sure enough. By the time I trotted to the first mile, I passed several people who’d already begun to walk. I felt a little better about myself. I remember a lot of the run. There were lots of dads pushing strollers. Three cyclists cut across the course at one point, as a course marshal’s back was turned (smooth move, buddy). Some kid had a super soaker and I waved at him. He aimed in my direction. Man, did that cool blast feel good.

After the 2-mile mark, I came upon the second and final hill. 

OK, here’s the last hill. OK, I’ve done hills before … once before.

I remembered what a coworker told me about running up hills: shorten your stride and pantomime pulling yourself up the hill with a rope.

Then, as I rounded the corner towards the high school, something kicked in. I motored in that last quarter of a mile, and I didn’t see pregnant women or nine-year-olds. I saw the scoreboard above the football field as I crossed the finish line.


My runner friend wrote back to me after the 5k: “HA HA! Good luck! You got this!” 

I hate running. Absolutely hate it. But I’ve been jogging since June – I think I just woke up one day and said, “hey, I think I’ll start jogging” – and when a college classmate of mine suggested I join her for a women’s 5K, I thought about it for a day.

And then I registered.

At 7:30 Saturday morning, I got in my car and drove to the site of the 5K. I was more anxious about the time leading up to the race then I was about the race. I wasn’t used to all the waiting. Usually, I just walk a block and start jogging, on my terms.

Finally, I started jogging.

OK, this feels fine, this feels OK. Have I run a mile yet?

At one point, people handed me cups of water. I sipped. Dropped the cup on the ground. Kept jogging. Wondered if I had run a mile yet – because I have no faith in the measurement function on the Nike iPod fitness app. Then I saw a yellow sign. And my husband, waving to me.

That’s a mile? Are you sure? 

I kept jogging, wondering when that two-mile mark was. And I was a little dismayed by the lack of roads that were blocked off. At one point there was this massive tanker/18-wheeler pulling out of a parking lot and I screamed at it, “Come on, there’s a 5K going on here!”

I’m sure the driver was real concerned about all these women jogging by.

But I started to get tired around the 2-mile mark, yet I didn’t stop and walk. I slowed down. And when I came around a corner with less than a mile left, I thought, well, damn, if I’ve come this far, I might as well just jog to the end.

And I did it. My goal at the start was just to finish. Then I thought, if I can finish this in under 45 minutes, I’ll be OK.

I finished in 36 minutes, 10 seconds. I think I’ll run another one soon.