The last road race I conquered was a 10k in West Point, NY. But before that, I had been training for the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee. Instead of running quick miles on the treadmill or around The Fens (I was living in Boston at the time), I would head out for super endurance ten to 20 mile runs that took hours upon hours upon hours (followed my ounces upon ounces upon ounces of Powerade and chocolate milk).
When I crossed the finish line with my legs still attached to my body, all those miles were definitely worth it—but I think all those long runs made me forget how to run fast.
Now, I’ve never been a speed demon (the shortest race my track coach ever let me run was the 4 x 400). But I finally started believing all that “Fast Twitch, Slow Twitch” talk I had heard in years past.
Since I’ve graduated from college and started working full-time, the benefits of “quicker” running have become more and more clear to me. Being able to get a solid 4 miles in during a work-at-home lunch break, or the most out of a 30-minute run on a treadmill so I can be in bed by 11p.m. have been vital in the past few months.
So when the opportunity came knocking, I decided to test my legs on something they haven’t had to deal with in awhile: a 5k.
My friend (who actually ran the marathon with me!) holds an annual memorial 5k in memory of her friend who died from Cystic Fibrosis, a disease that still has no cure. All benefits from the race go to the Hearts for Hope Foundation to support families that are dealing with this disease. Although the race is in Mansfield, Massachusetts, I had the day off from work on Friday for Thanksgiving, I had a lot of people in Boston and Massachusetts that I wanted to see and an invitation to dinner on Friday night, I wanted to support my friend, and if I could run a 5k while I was at it? Game on.
I know sometimes I say “just a 5k,” but anyone who can run a 5k should be proud of themselves. And when you are running for time, any race becomes a challenge.
I set out with the intention to just challenge myself, because honestly, I don’t do that enough. I can go out and run for 10 miles, but am I pushing myself? Not really. I’m listening to my iPod and people watching and if I’m lucky, talking to whoever I suckered into coming with me that day.
So when the starting line buzzed and I started shuffling with the rest of the crowd, I waited for a break and started to run for myself. After the first loop I felt the Dunkins Donut coffee in my stomach start to slosh around and my shins were bothering me (most likely the extra bulge from Thanksgiving dinner weighing in on them), I wanted to slow down and take it easy—maybe even walk. But then I thought about the 4 hour drive I had home, and how annoyed at myself I would be during it if I slacked off now.
The race is tiny (just 250 people), but I ended up finishing second for women and 15th overall with a time of 21:42. It’s no speed of sound breaking record to any extent, but I’m proud that I pushed myself and glad I didn’t stop at the first sign of discomfort. Plus, I got a medal and a gift certificate to buy more workout stuff—not bad!
Though I’ve been running pretty leisurely for the past couple of years, now that my workouts are 100% up to me unless I’m taking a class, I’m realizing I need to go a little above and beyond and challenge myself in order to keep improving.
And best of all, not only did I get to run the 5k, but I got to see a great group of people I haven’t been able to spend a lot of time with in awhile. I’m so lucky to have friends who share the same interests as I do and don’t mind waking up early on a Saturday morning to do something active.