Now that our first Strong Together training progam is complete, we asked our bloggers to reflect back on all they have learned and how they are feeling after crossing the finish line on their first 5K. Here, our bloggers share their perspectives about what they experienced on race day and what the future hold for them.
So, now that you have completed your first 5K, what are your final thoughts on your training and the Strong Together program?
Redbud day was so much fun! I loved getting to spend time with everyone and to laugh, get excited, and then experience the finish line. While I sure would have liked to have a beautiful, sunny day with no wind or rain, it was truly so much fun!
As we got ready to begin the race, I was definitely feeling a little overwhelmed and nervous because I was worried about whether my ankles would do what they were supposed to do for me. I was also really nervous because I had not been able to train as much or as consistently as I’d wanted, but I was also anxious to get going. I knew that, if nothing else, I could walk the 3.1 miles, so I wasn’t concerned about finishing. I was praying I’d be able to run at least 1/3 of the race and finish in about 40 minutes.
So, the gun went off and we started moving. I crossed the chip line and started jogging a little, alongside blogger mom Carrie, but after about ¼ of a mile, I had to slow to a walk. I jogged a little more throughout the race, but I don’t think I made my goal of running at least a full mile, in total. I spent most of the race walking alone in the middle of other groups and just focusing on each step—staying dedicated to just moving forward.
As I approached that final turn, where you could see the flagpole next to the finish line, I felt good. The end was in sight and I was getting there. I will admit, I was a little disappointed with my performance—no, that’s not exactly true —I was really disappointed because I had started this journey with such high hopes in February. Then, I saw Coach Sheila.
She said “There you are! I’ve been looking for you!” as she ran up next to me and said “Let’s run it out. You’re almost there.” I responded to her with resistance and said “My legs are killing me” but she wasn’t having it. She pushed and encouraged, in a good way, and I did it. I jogged over the finish line. I know it wasn’t pretty but I did it…I jogged for that final little bit.
I will tell you, as I crossed over that finish line, I wanted to cry, for two reasons. One, I was embarrassed because I felt like I had failed myself and all of you, for not being able to train more and run more of the race. Two, I was overjoyed because I didn’t just give up. I didn’t allow that embarrassment to win. I took control over it and I did it. I walked up to the woman handing out the medals and took what she handed to me, and I felt a flood of emotions. I had to walk around for a bit, by myself, to just take it all in and experience it. Once I felt composed and ready to greet everyone else, I joined Carrie & Brooke from MetroFamily at the finish line and began waiting for other runners. It was finished.
Now, here we are a full week later, and you know what? I’m ready to do another one. I’m ready to keep going. I’m ready to take this process further and am already looking at other 5Ks to sign up for. I am dedicated to my New Year’s resolution of doing three 5ks and a 10k this year so I’ve got to keep going.
I finished the Redbud in just over 48 minutes. I’m hoping to shave at least 8 minutes off my time next time around. For now, I’m going to stay focused on the fact that I finished and that it was just step one. Just like during the race, I am staying focused on each step…on just moving forward! Eventually, that finish line will come and I’m going to be ready to push through the pain and make it happen! And, then, I’m going to be proud of each step I took along the way.
Before the race I was so excited and nervous that I could hardly contain myself. The number of racers at the event was overwhelming. It was comforting to see the Runhers group and chat before the meet.
Waiting for the race to begin, I had flashbacks of how I began. The first time I “ran” I did it for 1 minute and almost passed out. I am not saying this to be funny, I literally almost passed out. So, minutes before the race I thought about the old me. The me that could not run more than 60 seconds, the old me that thought nothing about drinking a Route 44 Coke with my lunch, the old me that loved fried food and never passed up at a chance to go to Braum’s. These thoughts began to make me cry. It was a good cry. The kind of cry that you have at a graduation, or a wedding, or a birth. I felt like this was the beginning of a new me. A me that can be strong in the face of near failure and not give up. Very rarely am I a prideful person, but at that moment, I felt like I was pretty hot stuff!
Then the race began. I quickly realized that my training regiment did not include enough hill practice. But I kept pushing through. I felt pretty good until small children and elderly women began to pass me. And then it began to rain. I could do nothing but laugh. The old me would be embarrassed by the fact that people 30 years older and younger than me were flying passed me like the Tortoise and the Hare. I would have made all kinds of excuses why I couldn’t keep up…“They must be some sort of child running prodigy” or “I’m sure this lady probably ran in the 1968 Olympics and has just kept up her training.” But the new me was ok with it.
The absolute best part about the race was seeing my family at the finish line. Seeing them gave me a Tourbo-like boost to the end. Realistically, I knew that hundreds of people had crossed that finish line before me but it didn’t matter. What mattered is that I crossed the finish line. And it was AWESOME!
It is still hard to believe it has been a week since the race. The whole day was filled with so many different emotions—excitement, anxiousness, nervousness, fear, and even worry. For 8 weeks I trained. I pushed myself and forced myself to ignore the guilt that tried to creep in about the time it took. But I didn't give in to it. The week before the race I did my last training run and completed 3 miles with my husband, so I knew I could technically run the distance. The real question was, could I do it with all those other people around me, without him next to me to help me with my pace? And what about the hills? And the weather forecast?! Running in the rain did NOT sound enjoyable. It took all my concentration to just regulate my breathing when running more than a mile still! How would I do that if I was focused on not slipping or inhaling water?
In the end, none of those things mattered. Yes, it was freezing when I showed up to the meeting spot, and yes, I had to pee twice before the race started. But the crowd and the crazy, excitement of the Metro Family Strong Together team created an energy inside me that made me feel like I would explode if I couldn't just run, already. The gun fired and we were off.
The first hill wasn't too bad, and I was totally fine letting all the young, old and even blind runners fly by me. I knew my pace and I was going to just take it slow and enjoy the process. It wasn't until the drizzle started that I began to have to think more about my breathing and keep myself calm. The unevenness of the path was different than the flat pavement of the road and I found myself cautious about my footing, especially when the 10K runners merged with us. I was at the point where if I had needed to stop because I couldn't get around someone in front of me, I knew I wouldn't be able to just start running again. Thankfully, things opened up in front of me and I was able to just keep on running. And the smiling, encouraging volunteers, they made such a difference!
Around mile 2, coach Sheila found me and started her cheerleading. It was nice to hear her say it was almost over and to lighten my train of thought and get my mind off of my breathing. Before I knew it I could see the finish line and hear the crowd. It was like a jolt of caffeine hit, and when I saw the hill I would have to climb to get there. I knew I needed to just go hard and finish fast or I might not have the momentum to get up the hill. Other than the ballerina jump, I don't remember much more than panting as I crossed, and saw Coach Sara and other RunHers cheering for me. Then I saw my family. Standing in the pouring rain to celebrate my victory. I had done something for myself that I never thought possible and they were there to cheer me on for it. Both of my daughters told me they wanted to run with me next year. My oldest said he wanted to run with me in the Memorial Race at the end of the month. Whether or not that actually happens, I couldn't help but be excited at the possibilities that they saw in me and themselves because of this experience.
So what now? I still think a marathon is possible. I want to run a few more 5Ks and even a 10K and half-marathon first, but the idea doesn't terrify me. I love the rhythm of running, the way everything else goes away and I think about that moment only. It is my therapy time and my me time and I can't imagine giving it up at this point. I am thankful to MetroFamily for giving me the opportunity to challenge myself and pursue myself and meet some amazing new friends who I treasure. I have loved getting Strong Together.
Sunday morning I was full of excitement and nerves. My dear friend, Mary Rachel, and I left church, grabbed lunch and headed to meet up with the Strong Together team. Rain was forecasted so the day was not too hot, not too cold. It was actually quite perfect. I tried to soak in the experience. I loved lining up and seeing all of the other runners, the teams, the bright shirts and the kids. I noticed the quiet patter of feet as the race began and we all started. I appreciated the high fives and smiles from people cheering us on. The power-aid was a welcomed sight towards the end of the race. A band was playing at one of the houses along the course, that was pretty cool too. Mary Rachel and I were able to have a great conversation and probably my favorite part of the whole race was that she came with me, to support me and encourage me.
I think through this training I experienced the feeling of accomplishment and completion. Setting a goal and reaching it is something that I think is powerful. I want to teach my kids to set goals and meet them. I learned to push through when I wanted to quit. I learned leaving the house was the hardest part. I learned that I could do more than I expected. Last year, when I took my children to the zoo I was completely exhausted. During the training and afterwards, my boys and I went on a few zoo trips. I tracked one of them and we walked three miles, I wasn't out of breath or tired—it was awesome that I felt so great.
My plan is to continue my walking/jogging 2-3 times a week. I also plan to add some exercise classes during the week. I'm pretty nervous about showing up to a class at my gym, but I'm going to do it. This experience has been fantastic. I appreciate everyone who made it happen. I'm so proud of Serena, Alicia, and Carrie, too!