A few days ago I ran in the city’s annual 5K, which conveniently goes through our neighborhood and along a beautiful parkway.
I am not athletic by nature or build, and it was only my fourth race ever. The first one was so long ago, and I was so not-in-condition, that they were taking down the finish line when I arrived.
I started over in 2010, with simple goals: Not Dying, and Not Coming in Last. I don’t remember what I did to train; I probably just started running after a few blocks of warming up. I met my goals: I survived, and I was not the last one in.
For the 2011 race, I started training at the end of June and this time I used Cardio Coach, an interval training program I found online. July was hot but I managed to run a couple of times a week through the worst of it, three times a week when the weather was cooler. I ran at night, partly to avoid the heat, mostly so nobody would see me. I felt much better prepared and I not only didn’t die or come in last, I beat my 2010 time by 4 minutes 57 seconds!
This year we had a mild spring so I started training sooner (in daylight! right down the street and onto the parkway, where anybody could see me!). Then came the Summer from Heck. For almost a month the weather was too beastly to run even in the early morning, even with a Snickers waiting at home (see “not athletic by nature,” above). I finally resumed running the last weekend of July. Twice I even managed to train three times a week. By race day, I didn’t feel especially ready, but as I was transporting around 20 pounds less than I had the year before, I felt more confident that I wouldn’t die and that I might even match last year’s time.
Dear Reader, I beat my 2011 time by more than 2.5 minutes, coming in at 35 minutes 27 seconds.
The first mile was hardest. The legs just did not want to work. During the second mile, something seemed to kick in and I was able to keep a steady pace with only one brief slowdown to catch my breath. The third mile…the third mile was not easy, even with the headphones and Cardio Coach Guy cheering me on, but it wasn’t awful, either. I had to slow down a couple more times (again, not for long) and I felt a bit nauseated a couple of times (but it went away). I felt really, REALLY good on the walk home and the next day. (Monday…well, let’s just say it caught up with me on Monday.)
I admit that I was the teeniest bit chagrined when I checked online and saw that my 35:27 time was exceeded by more than 30 seconds by an 81-year-old woman.
We’ll call her L___ G______ and I’m pretty sure I saw her ahead of me as I was huffing the last quarter-mile to the finish line. She probably was the elder of the two women who were running arm in arm. I suspect the other woman was a daughter or daughter-in-law.
New goal for 2013: Forget surviving and not coming in last. I want to beat L___ G______’s time. And her daughter’s, while I’m at it.
I emailed Older Son, the only true athlete in the family, asking if he’d run with me on his arm when I’m 81.
He said he would if L___ G______ is still around to beat.
© 2012 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go