Today's the one year anniversary of the first 5K I ever ran. It was the Jingle Bell 5K on ODU's campus. If I weren't 500 miles away, I'd be running it again this year. If it weren't the middle of exams, I'd be running the Jingle Bell 5K that is going on here today. But c'est la vie...maybe next year.
Anyways, my first 5K was a disaster.
In September of 2009 I had this brilliant idea that I should start running. I went online and found this awesome program, Couch to 5k, that promised to take me from sitting on my couch to successfully finishing a 5K in 9 weeks. I followed the program religiously and finished the program just a few days before my 5K, but when it was race day, I wasn't ready.
For one thing it was 35 degrees outside. And raining. I didn't stretch properly beforehand. Approximately three minutes into the race I was soaked to the bone and my calf cramped like a champ. It was a struggle and it took me 46 (yes 46) minutes, but I crossed the finish line.
At first I was embarrassed by my lackluster finish, but thankfully I didn't let my embarrassment stop me. Thankfully when I started running, I started running with my friend Kathryn. She encouraged me to sign up for a 5 mile run in March which kept me running.
Now a year later, I can't believe how far I've come. I've got several races under my belt. I run several times a week now and I actually enjoy it. My legs are more toned. I can run faster. And longer. I ran a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day this year, another 5K. And I amazed myself when a friend asked if I'd been training and I said, well its just three miles. Last year at this time, three miles seemed like an eternity. Now its a nice break in my day.
Running has changed my life in other ways too. I've made it me time. Just a couple of hours out of my week, but its time where I don't have to talk to anyone, or think about anything. Sometimes my mind wanders and I don't think about much of anything at all. Other times I'm focused and running helps me solve some of life's problems. Currently, its saving me from law school. Nothing takes care of my stress like a 30 minute run.
Right now I *should* be training for a half marathon that I signed up for in February. Even though I haven't really had the chance to put in the miles I know I should be I do find myself pounding the pavement at least three times a week. I've gotten significantly faster even though I'm still not speedy. But the other day I did run my 5k loop in 33 minutes. A significant improvement from my first 5k.
Running is one thing that I do purely for myself. I do what I can when I can. I don't care what other people think of my running habits or ability. I don't care how I look when I run but rather I focus on how I feel during and after my runs. And that's usually pretty empowered.
If you're reading this and thinking about starting a running program: DO IT! It is honestly one of the best things that I've done for myself in a long, long time. Its changed my life.