Starting…And Ending…with My First 5K.

Taken by my Dad on the morning of our First 5K

In 2006 I invited my Dad to come visit us and run a 5K with us. It was going to be our first, Donnnie, E and I were all going to do it. I had been training on the treadmill at the YMCA because the thought of running outside terrified me. I periodically did loops around my block with E, but I felt like it was a million times harder than running on the treadmill, so I didn’t do it often. I wrote this entry the night before and even joked that I was worried my system was going to go into shock at the feeling of running on the GROUND instead of the treadmill.

I ran that 5K in a hair under 35 minutes and felt really proud of myself. It was a good day that I would love to mark as the start of my running journey that brought me to where I am right now.

That’s what we want, isn’t it? We want to start a journey, make a decision, that will finally give us that healthy and fit life we’ve always wanted. And in some ways that has happened for me, but it wasn’t “Training For My First 5K” like I wanted it to be.

And here’s the thing…I really started to get into running back then. And I had recently read two bloggers recount their journeys towards their first marathons so I signed up for a local half marathon and even a marathon in Nashville. I was AMPED. That 5K training made me feel like I could CONQUER THE WORLD.

The problem is that I didn’t really stick with it. I think I did a good job sticking with my long runs up to the 10-mile mark. Which allowed me to survive the two half marathons (one here, and one in Tucson with my brother) with a moderate amount of success. I wasn’t able to run all of either race, but I ran most of both. But 10 miles does NOT carry you far in a marathon. BUT – I had already signed up for it and my Dad and brother were all flying in for it so off I went to “run” my first marathon in 2007. It took me almost 8 hours since I walked all but about 10 miles.

And then I stopped running completely for about four years.

I remember several times just deciding: Running is NOT for me. That 5K was great, and maybe I’ll periodically do those in my life, but nothing more. Deep down I don’t really like running. I actually kinda hate it. Stupid running. That marathon can be crossed off my bucket list and I can go about my business and never think of running again.

I tell you this in case you tried running, and then hated it.

Because I decided I hated it.

I remembered a few moments of joy, some races I enjoyed and some good long runs that I finished feeling strong and awesome, but overall? I hated it. Decided it wasn’t my thing. Wrote it off.

And here I am, about to run a half-marathon this weekend and I woke up with a thought: How many half-marathons have I run?

And I didn’t have a number ready to go.

Half-marathons have become so common place, and so insignificant, that I no longer bother to count them. I know I’ve done the local one here 4 times, I’ve done Oak Barrel twice…and if I keep going on that vein I can come up with 9? Maybe? Yeah…I think 9. And I’ve got 3 more coming up in the next 3 weeks. So, 9 going on 12?

The funny thing is that I don’t really like half-marathons. The distance is great, it doesn’t take much out of me to run 13 miles, but I hate the cost. They’re usually about the same as a full marathon and I’d rather do that. I’d rather pay that much and run 26.2.

This is who am I now.

But it’s not who I was then.

I just often feel the need to remind people of that. Especially if you’re working on your first 5K. I spend a lot of time telling people, “Oh! Look where running led me!” But I forget to remind people that I started this journey once before, did 2 half-marathons and 1 full and then stopped completely because I hated it.

It wasn’t: Train for a 5K and then love running forever!

It was: Train for a 5K, then partially for a half-marathon, then decide you hate running but fumble your way through a full marathon because you already paid the money and then NEVER RUN AGAIN!

AND THEN…four+ years later…it was: Train for a 10K…then successfully for a half-marathon…THEN love running forever!

We’d love for it to be an easy formula…start this one thing and then end up where you want to be! Clear and easy road that once you start walking on, the only option is to end up the place you want to go!

But it’s not like that. I started the road to running in 2006, didn’t get very far before I got off of it forever.

Or at least – I thought it was forever. I SAID it was forever. I said MANY TIMES…running is NOT for me. I even add my argument, “I tried the half-marathon, even the marathon, and hated every second of it.” I used the whole: GAVE IT THE GOOD OLE COLLEGE TRY! to assure people that I knew running wasn’t for me. Nope. No way.

But then different things motivated me to try again.

And THAT time…THAT time it stuck.

But that was four years after the first time! I ran my first SUCCESSFUL half marathon 5+ years after my first 5K.

First successful 5K: September 2006
First successful 13.1 where I trained properly and was able to run the whole thing: November 2011.

FIVE YEARS between those two steps. With 2 GOOD attempts and 1 BAD attempt at half-marathons and one completely RIDICULOUS attempt at a full marathon in between.

And a lot of “running is not for me” was spoken during that 5 years.

So, sometimes you do that first 5K and it leads to a lifetime of running and fitness.

But other times you do that first 5K and it leads to a few decent months of running and a lot of verbal declarations of HATING RUNNING FOREVER!

And the funny thing? I’m still not really where I need to be. I’m still REALLY bad at the mid-week runs. I do my long runs on Saturdays and Sundays no problem, but during the week? I kinda crap out. I do better in the winter when I don’t have to work around Donnie’s triathlon training, but right now? It’s hard. Especially now that Wes had started t-ball. I’m glad my running season is coming to a close because my training has crapped out in a GLORIOUS fashion trying to work around everything.

However, even when my training is crapping out, I am confident that running will always be a part of my life from here on out. I’m there. I’m at a point where I couldn’t imagine my life without running. I’m constantly planning my years in terms of my races. I’m doing a Grand Slam this year. (It’s a local thing, I’ll write more about that later.) I’m hoping in 2015 to do a “real” 50-miler (I just haven’t decided which one yet). I’m planning on doing my first out-of-town 50K sometime in the next 12 months. I’d like to log in maybe 5 out-of-town ultras in the next 24 months. In 2017 I’d like to start training for my first 100-miler to happen maybe sometime in 2018 or 2019, depending on which one I decide to do. This is my life now. I plan my running career years in advance. I’m on that road for good now.

But that path did not start with my first 5K and smoothly lead me to this point in time. So, if you’re disappointed that your first 5K didn’t start your journey to running and fitness? Don’t lose hope. Don’t give up. It might not have been your time. I’ve got friends who started their running journey in their 50s. After their kids were grown and gone and they wanted a new hobby.

Just don’t assume that one failed attempt means that it’s just NOT for you. It’s just not for you THEN, but it might be for you LATER.

4 thoughts on “Starting…And Ending…with My First 5K.”

  1. Just found your blog today, the day before my first half marathon. My story is so similar to yours, without the long distance races in the beginning. I just got the ok to run the race yesterday (long story), and am feeling all sorts of anxiety and doubt. I needed this. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for this! It applies to so much more than running, but it really hit home for me in terms of fitness. I feel like I am forever trying to pick it up and failing. Some day I will get there. : )

  3. I know I’ve commented about this before but I’m so glad you encouraged me to sign up for my first half marathon in 2012! I had only started the Couch 2 5K program but needed some motivation since my attempts at running in the past had been a bust. See you at Oak Barrel next weekend!

  4. June! What will you be wearing? What’s your pace? It’s a big race but I’d love to look out for you! I’m wearing a neon green “We Run Huntsville” shirt but there will be tons of us there, including my husband, so I’m not sure how helpful that will be 🙂 I also run in compression sleeves, lately I can’t find my two matching aqua ones so I will probably be wearing one aqua and one purple one. I hope to see you, but if I don’t! GOOD LUCK!!!!

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