Either the After Life is Just Like Real Life or I Really Did Survive My First 5K

by Alison Friedman in Mommy's Musings

I signed up to do it and I said I was going to do it, but it was not to be believed until it was complete. I finished my 5K and it didn’t even suck!

I woke up early on Thanksgiving morning after a surprisingly decent night’s sleep with no race jitters. Ate some breakfast, got dressed, and woke up the family to head out the door. Thankfully, the race was only 5 minutes away from our house, so we didn’t have a long drive and parking was easy. I know that’s not always the case with these runs.

We found where we were supposed to be even though there was a severe lack of signage, but we just did the sheep thing and followed everyone else who looked like they knew what they were doing. We arrived on the field at Cal Lutheran University where people gathered, warmed up, and registered. I’m so glad I registered a few days before and picked up my Tshirt and swag bag (which included such “swag” as advertising, a couple coupons, and a miniature power bar) so I didn’t have to wait in lines. It was really cold at 8 a.m. but I kept moving my legs to keep them warm and probably looked like an idiot because I had no idea what I should be doing.

Taking in the calm before the storm.

We ended up standing around for about 45 minutes. I thought it started at 8, but there was a kids’ 1K race first, so we waited for that to finish before it was time to line up for the 5K. I knew I shouldn’t be in the front of the 2,000-ish people grouped at the START line, so I went toward the middle and waited while Bryan, Madelyn, and Princeton got ready to cheer from the sidelines.

Isn’t my face just screaming of simultaneous excitement and dread?!

My view as we waited to star the race. I am very short and surrounded by very tall people.

I had downloaded a few Howard Stern shows with interviews I wanted to listen to during the run. I don’t like to listen to my music when I exercise because I find it too predictable and doesn’t keep my brain stimulated (read: doesn’t keep my brain from thinking about anything other than “I HATE THIS! MAKE THIS STOP! I’D RATHER BE EATING ICE CREAM ON THE COUCH RIGHT NOW!”). I like to listen to talk radio because I can sort of have a conversation with what I listen to. Ahhhh! Voices in my head!!!

I cued up my iPhone to the SiriusXM radio downloads so that it’d be ready for the first signal that the run had begun and it was time to take off. But the Apple spiral of death kept plaguing my phone and I wasn’t having a good feeling about being able to listen to Bradley Cooper on Howard.

The dude to my right is totally checking out the competition and thinking, “Girl in pink is toast!” womp womp

It’s almost time to go! Do I look like a runner yet?

Sure enough, the horn blew and it was time to go! The people in front of me shuffled along and then the course opened up and I was able to have some space. For the first five minutes of the race, there was steam coming out of my ears. Not because I was on fi-ah, but because I was so frustrated that the interview wouldn’t play! I could hear people talking and I could hear my own breathing. That was not part of the plan! Finally, after several attempts, the app just crashed and I couldn’t even get SiriusXm to cooperate. I couldn’t handle looking down at my phone anymore because I had a close call with a speed bump in the road, so I cut my losses and turned on Pandora. It was music, but at least there was some sort of element of surprise.

Bryan’s view of the crowd just before the horn signaled GO

1.2 seconds in, and I am still vertical. In other news, do you think girlfriend in the front is going to regret running a 5K in jean shorts???

Look, ma! All 4 of my chins and I are running!

I didn’t want to fiddle anymore with my phone so I just let the station that was already on play as my running soundtrack. The station? Dave Matthews Band Live. I know, not very typical “running music,” but it actually worked great for me! Since it was all live, he jammed a lot and when he jams, he builds and let’s face it, music that builds is great for the push-through. Hearing some of my favorite songs “live” while running and waiting to find out what would play next was pretty exciting as people passed by.

Before I knew it, I was at Mile 1 and I was feeling great! At the mile mark was a water station and I thought about stopping for a sip, but not because I really needed it… more as a “but what if I get thirsty later?” I decided to skip the water and knew there’d be more along the course if I needed it. And I’m glad I did because with every pound of my feet on the pavement, I started to feel like I could pee. Fabulous.

I passed by these cute girls who were dressed up in Thanksgiving feather handbands and tutus. Then there were these girls who had turkey-themed shirts.

Mile 1 and people look cute all around me!

I think if I were to do a race with a friend in the future, I’d dress up! That might make it even more fun.

Just as the course took us away from house-lined streets, I saw smoke. But it wasn’t, like, 911 Danger! Fire! smoke, but more like yummy BBQ smoke. Which tantalized my nose. I then realized that people were smoking a turkey in their backyard and it smelled so delicious which is really just cruel when you’re running a race and about eight hours away from Thanksgiving dinner.

Streets are different when you run on them instead of driving on them. The street that I’ve driven so many times to get to my house, or CLU, or even the hospital, looked so different when I was running on it. I’d never noticed a bus stop there before. Or the fact that the speed limit is 50 MPH (oops). And that it’s slightly uphill.

There were a lot of great cheerleaders along the path to keep us gong. Volunteers, water girls, residents in the neighborhood, and even police officers who lined the streets at big intersections were all cheering and clapping. I didn’t think I’d be motivated by that, but I was. As the course started to lose its flatness and take on a bit of an incline, I heard a swarm of cheering that got more and more powerful. A huge smile grew across my face as I approached a cluster of volunteers and I gawked at them in gratitude for cheering so loudly and enthusiastically. And then I saw that their mouths were closed and they were standing still. This particular group wasn’t cheering at all. I was hearing cheering, all right, but it was in my ears — it was the lucky fans at a Dave Matthews Band concert who were whooooo-ing for “Ants Marching.” So, thank you, DMB fans who were live at Red Rocks, for the encouragement during my run.

feeling the burn up the hill and making sure to follow the law and not go over 50 MPH. har har har

After Mile 2 happened, I was running uphill. I was beating the hill. I was still going. People were walking around and I kept trotting. Huff puff huff puff legs tightening huff puff. This is the stuff I didn’t train for in my, um, three days of training. So after about a half mile of this nonsense, the devil on my shoulder won and I walked. I walked really fast, though, so that’s okay, right? Actually, I really wasn’t putting too much pressure on myself to finish by a specific time (although I was projecting 45 minutes), but I think it would’ve been cool to say I ran the whole thing without stopping. But after 2.5 miles, that became a dead dream. I walked through the hill which, by the way, was really hardly a hill but everything else was just so flat and I’m such a rookie and I’d already been running more than I’d ever run in a period of time in my life, that I didn’t want to burn out and limp across the finish line.

The walk was good because it was short enough to catch my breath and relieve the tightening in my legs. I approached Mile 3 and kicked it in gear. I was entering the college campus again and I could hear cheering and the MC on the loudspeaker a mile away on the field.

I was getting tired again — I probably shouldn’t have walked… it felt too good — but I powered through because I wasn’t sure where Bryan, Madelyn, and Princeton were waiting and didn’t want them to get a glimpse of me walking instead of running. So as I listened to Dave in my ears, I pictured my family at the finish line and I was encouraged to finish strong.

I tried to get a picture of the Mile 3 sign, but a mother/son duo decided to do entire photo shoot around it and I wasn’t about to waste my time that was tick-tockin’ away (even though I kept telling myself I didn’t care about the time… time, shmime… whatever…), so no Mile 3 photo. But I still loved seeing Mile 3 because that meant I was .1 mile away from the finish line. And there it was!

I was conflicted… do I take a picture of the finish line from my perspective or do I find my family waiting for me? I did both! I saw Bryan soon after I saw the finish line and smiled big to see him shooting my run-in.

Thanks, man with giant head, for blocking my approximate time as I was about to cross the line. I SWEAR there was a 3 behind his noggin’.

Running it in!

Trying to get a picture of the finish line while crossing it. Oh look, there’s my finger in front of the camera lens.

OK, can I have 42 slices of pumpkin pie now??

And just like that, I crossed over! It was really exciting and I was about to jog out of the way and cry and enjoy the moment but the women who finished just in front of me stopped to talk RIGHT there and I almost ran into them. Aaaaaand buzz kill. Look, I’m no running veteran, but I’d think that Running 101 teaches you to MOVE OUT OF THE WAY WHEN YOU CROSS THE FINISH LINE… no? Runners, am I right? Or do you just stand there? Cuz eff that, next time I’m going to sob and sink into the ground right. there.

I met up with my people and Bryan kissed my sweaty lips! Madelyn looked exhausted and Princeton was like, “Ok, great, can we go run around the giant grass field and pee all over everything now?”

I saw that the time on the finish line clock was 37 minutes and 36 seconds, but knew my official time would be different since the time started when it read my chip actually crossing the starting line. Thankfully, I got an instant email with my time and couldn’t believe I came in at 37.17 with an 11:59 mile pace. This isn’t Olympic by any means, but for my very first run with hardly any training, I managed to come in pretty well under 45 minutes and my pace was slightly slower than my usual mile time, but I’ve never run more than a mile and a half in one time before! So, I gave myself some mental pats on the back and felt really proud about what I’d done!

I felt great the rest of the day and my Thanksgiving dinner tasted even more delicious because of my morning. I don’t think I’m exactly addicted to running yet like people said I’d be, but I can definitely see myself signing up for another 5K in the future and I’d like to see if I can beat my Turkey Dash time. Thanks for all your support and cheers on the big race day! Totally helped and I’ll need it all again next time!

I didn’t get a medal, but I have pure gold right here next to me!

  1. Renee
    11/29/2012 7:08 PM

    Way to go lady!!!! I am so very proud of you roomie!

  2. 11/29/2012 5:50 PM

    Great job! I love your commentary. I’m always afraid to make fun of people around me lest they happen to find the blog 🙂 congrats on a great first 5K!