And so crashes an illusion. I’ve been working diligently, if slowly, to increase my walking speed on the treadmill to 6 m.p.h., or a 10 minute mile. I think this is a reasonable and laudable goal for me given my erstwhile couch-potato self. I’ve refrained from running to protect my joints, but figured that when it came to running a 5k, I could just run a couple of times the week before and be fine. After all, I had the speed down already! I could not have been more wrong; which I’m sure any real runner could have foreseen.
After buying myself some running tights and a running jersey, I mapped out my course online by looking up an annual 5k that is run near my house. It looked ok…a half-mile walk to the start, then the 5k in a big partial loop, leaving me about a half-mile from home coming from another direction. So, on Saturday morning, I suited-up. I put on a bright running T-shirt on top of the jersey, put on some lined-woolen mittens, and added a balaclava for added warmth.
I was pretty self-conscious walking down to the park, but by the time I’d arrived I’d seen some “real” runners and they were suited-up in similar fashion. On my mark, get set, and I was off! I ran out the other side of the park, took a 90-degree turn and ran up to the top of the street. I wouldn’t have made it that far except that as I ran out of the park, two other women were coming up behind me and talking easily as they ran. Huh? But by the time I reached the next corner, they had turned off and I started to walk. It took me a while to catch my breath, but then I ran some more. I alternately ran and walked to the end and then checked my watch. 22.5 minutes! Yeah!
As I walked home, I kept going over that time in my mind…that was about an 8 minute mile…seemed a big stretch for me, especially since my “running” had become more and more an old-lady-shuffle by the end. Back home, I pulled up MapQuest on my computer and mapped-out my route…exactly 1.6 miles. For Pete’s Sake! I was supposed to turn around and run back! The very thought had my legs quaking.
That afternoon and through Sunday, my lungs let me know how unhappy they were, forcing me to cough periodically. Muscles ached that never bothered me in my speed-walks. My knees, which had been doing really well on the walking regime, improving so much that they no longer bothered me, creaked in protest when I went up and down the stairs. I was tired and I was really hungry.
On Sunday, I thought of going out again or at least walking on the treadmill to keep up some sort of momentum, but I knew better. By Monday morning I was a bit cowed by the task ahead, but I suited-up, this time with lighter weight gloves and a stocking cap…the mittens and balaclava had been too warm, and got myself out there. I had a better idea of the length of the course and I again alternately ran then walked through it. I soon noticed that I could run about the distance from one lamp post to the second one after that, so I used that to gauge my way throughout. When I got to the turn, I turned. I continued back to the park and it really wasn’t so bad.
According to my watch, it was exactly 43 minutes. Not anywhere near the 27 minutes I casually mentioned a few posts ago, but I can live with that. I have four more training runs ahead of me, and hopefully I can increase the amount of time I’m running instead of walking and can shave a few minutes off of my time. I hope I won’t be the only newby who boldly signed up to the 8 to 9.5 minutes per mile pace out of sheer naïveté…but if I am, so be it. My goal is still to finish the race, regardless of my time!
Find the Joy in the Journey…even when it’s harder than you anticipated!