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First 5k in the Bag!

After roughly three months of sub-par training and completing the Couch to 5k program, last Saturday, my fiancee and I completed our first 5k race!  I say “sub-par” because the Couch to 5k should take 9 weeks, but somehow I finished in about 12 weeks.  With one vacation to Las Vegas and one to Montana, work stress, and other excuses, I certainly didn’t train like I should have.  However, I could not be more proud of myself for doing it and finishing it!

The Pittston Tomato Festival 5k is part of a weekend filled with various activities in a local city near where we live.  I’m not quite sure how it started, but tons of vendors set up stands and sell Italian and Polish food, there is a parade, tomato fights, and lots of entertainment.  The 5k kicked off last Saturday at 11am.  We got there a little after 9:30am, and I was feeling good until we got our race packet.  I then felt completely out of my league.  This was literally my first time at any race event, and I guess I didn’t realize how many professional runners would be there.  We both felt so silly for being there, and all those old high school thoughts started creeping back in.  “I’m not good enough”, “I’m going to be dead last I just know it”…etc.

When the gun went off, I thought I might puke.  My legs felt like jello, and before I knew it, racers were passing me to my left and right.  The course was actually very hilly, and it started by crossing a long bridge then turning and crossing the next bridge to the south.  I tried to just focus on my running, my music, and my pace, but it was so hard!  I had a feeling I might start out going too fast, which I did, but I soon found a good speed.  After the first 1/2 mile, I realized my goal was to simply finish without walking.  I didn’t care about time, but I did NOT want to finish last.

By the time I got to mile 1, I thought I was a lot farther along than I was.  At this point, the hills kicked in, and it was all I could do to not to walk.  Most of mile 2 was nothing but hills and pure heat.  The sun came out as soon as the race started, and the humidity crept up fast.  I took water from the first station, but I couldn’t really figure out how to drink it.  I skipped the second one, and just kept trucking. 

After going up a 1/2 mile incline, the two volunteers at the top informed me that I had 1/2 mile to go and it was all down hill 🙂 .  I could NOT have been happier.  I picked up the pace a bit, but I was really struggling.  My chest was tight, and I just felt rotten. 

Once I got to the bottom of a hill and rounded the corner, the finish line was within sight!  I started sprinting, and the sheer energy of the crowd’s cheering carried me to the end.  It also helped that my fiancee was there at the finish line ;). 

When I crossed the line and tore off my tag, I thought for sure I was going to pass out.  It’s funny how after running for so long, it actually hurts to stop!  Once I drank some water, the pure joy rushed in.  I DID IT!  I finished a 5k, and I didn’t walk!  My initial time goal was to be under 35 minutes, and I finished in 34:44…awesome.  My fiancee kicked this 5k in th face, and he finished in 29:17.

I never quite “got” the whole racing or running thing for that matter.  But, the high from finishing that race made me finally realize what this is all about.  Pure accomplishment from something that I set out determined to do. 

So in true new runner fashion, last Sunday we signed up for the Fall Foliage 5k in Rhinebeck, NY.  It’s on October 23rd, so just a little shy of two months.

My fiancee and Inow realize that with proper training, including strength training and better nutrition, we can certainly beat our first times while making this “running thing” a lifestyle!  Gah…what an awesome day 🙂

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