Running my first 5K

November 3, 2008 at 12:04 pm 1 comment

Yesterday I did something entirely new for me. I ran my first 5K race.

I’m afraid I don’t have any photos from the actual race. I was too nervous to think about bringing a camera. You see, I’m not athletic… at all. I hate exercise. I do it because I know it’s good for me, but I hate it. I run because it’s the most efficient way to exercise. If I’m going to go to all the trouble of exercising I want it to really count. So I run, but I don’t really enjoy it. I just sort of tolerate it.

But something happened during the 5K that I didn’t expect. I had a good time. In fact, I had a great time.

Running in a big group (there were over 1000 of us) is completely different from running alone. There’s an energy in it, everyone going the same way, some sprinting, some walking, most just jogging. There are people cheering you along. There are people offering water. There are puzzled bystanders wondering what the heck is going on. It was an event, and I was part of it.

The weather was perfect: cool and a little moist from all the rain we unexpectedly received the previous day. The sky was deeply overcast, so there was no glare and I didn’t have to wear sunscreen.

The first mile was the hardest part. We were still running on city streets, going over curbs and around buildings, and often the course squeezed down so narrow that we were all forced to walk because there just wasn’t enough room for running. No one said anything but I could feel the frustration of the people who wanted to run faster. Even I felt some frustration. But I think the enforced slowdowns early on were good for me. They forced me to check my pace, reminding me not to run too fast. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the excitement and run much faster than your sustainable pace. That can sap all your energy early and make the end of the race a real struggle.

After the first mile things opened up. The course followed some of our city’s fabulous walking and bike paths along the river. The jockeying for position was finished, the fastest people having finally gotten past the rest of us, and the walkers mostly toward the rear. The scenery was beautiful, all fresh and clean from the rainstorms of the previous day. The brush smelled of sage, and I found myself breathing it in joyously. I had a good pace, slow and steady. I felt like I could keep going forever.

Coming toward the end, there were a few pedestrian bridges to navigate. This meant some up- and downhill running. Lots of people struggled with the uphills, but I was proud that I was able to maintain my pace on the uphill. For a treat, I allowed myself to gain a little speed on the downhill. Nothing out of control, just letting gravity help me along. At the end I had a little extra energy left, so I let myself sprint a bit to the finish line.

I run slowly. When I work out, I usually run 3 miles in 45 minutes. That’s really slow! I finished the 3.1 miles of the race in under 37 minutes, much faster than my workout pace. I was very proud of myself for pulling this off. Amazingly I was faster than over half of the women in the race. This gives me a huge boost of confidence. Maybe I’m not so ridiculously slow. Maybe I can really do this! Maybe I can even have fun doing it!

I think I need to do it again.


Entry filed under: Running.

Inspiration: Andrew Forge Open Studio November 8-9, 2008

1 Comment

  • 1. Word of the Year « Barbara J Carter  |  December 19, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    […] to do the uncomfortable and unpleasant things necessary for attaining my goals, whether they were running a 5K race, finishing a certain number of paintings, or putting together my portfolio. It got me up in the […]

Barbara J Carter

I'm an artist. I make paintings with dots.

I work in acrylic paint, in a couple of distinct styles: landscapes and abstracts.

Native to California, I've lived elsewhere and only recently returned to my home state. I now live in Los Angeles.

I mostly show my art in outdoor festivals in California. I also occasionally show my work in art galleries or open studio events. You can see an up-to-date list of upcoming shows on my website (click here).

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