Follow writer, mom and everyday person Meredith Bland as she trains for her first 5K using the Couch to 5K® presented by Special K app. Read the last installment here.
After nine weeks of training, 27 runs and a whole lot of hard work, the day of my 5K finally arrived on a crisp September morning outside Seattle.
I wish I could tell you I crossed the finish line triumphant, but unfortunately, things did not go the way I planned. Due to an unexpected injury after the first mile (I'll get to that later), I didn't finish the race.
I'm not going to sugarcoat it—not finishing was upsetting and, frankly, embarrassing. I put in so much work for this day only to crumble. I had so many people cheering me on, and I failed. I wanted to make my kids proud, and instead they saw me give up.
But a few days before that I did accomplish my goal, all by myself, on the running path near my house. It was only later that I realized it meant more to me than a perfect photo-finish ever could.
An Unexpected Victory
On the Wednesday before the race, I completed the last training run of the Couch to 5K program. It was a "free run," meaning you run as far as you want for as long as you want. I decided to treat it like a dress rehearsal for my 5K. I plotted out a three-mile loop and off I went.
My plan was to take it easy and walk whenever I wanted to, for as long as I wanted to. I figured this way I couldn't help beating that time when I ran the actual race on Saturday, since I planned to push myself as hard as I could that day.
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The path was mostly deserted. I huffed and puffed and walked and jogged, enjoying the run and the fact that I wasn't under any pressure to go particularly fast. I just wanted to complete the distance. When I got back to the pedestrian bridge, near where my car was parked, and pressed the button to end the timer on my run, I learned I had run 3.3 miles in 43 minutes—even longer than the standard 5K distance.
I was thrilled. Beyond thrilled. If you remember from my second column, I used to laugh at the idea that I could ever run for 20 minutes straight. Now look at what I had accomplished.
I did the full distance, I took it easy on myself and I still made it in less than 45 minutes. I started to wonder if maybe I'd be able to run Saturday's 5K in less than 40 minutes.