I did it, I did it, I did it!!

It wasn’t the run I’ve been training for — that one’s not until June — but on a whim this past week, I signed up to run a 5K on Friday evening. It was an easy commitment since a lot of coworkers were participating, my employer paid the entry fee, and the race director even hand-delivered an entry form to my office. It was written in the stars, man!

How did I justify the run with my falling-apart body, you ask? My Sunday and Tuesday training runs went pretty well, so of course I felt invincible again. And, hey, I figured I had to do my third training run of the week anyway…..I may as well pin a number on my shirt and run with a hundred or two others. I could always walk a bit of it if I petered out, or if something started to hurt.

Honestly, I was expecting to have to walk part of it. So in typical Lisa fashion, I made it a personal goal to NOT walk at all. Geesh, it’s boring to have realistic goals, don’t you think?

There was a bit of lag time between registration and the start of the race, so I stood around getting advice from the people who had run and/or walked this particular 5K in the past. One coworker touched my arm and laughed, “You are so cute! You’re really excited, aren’t you?”

Ha! I didn’t ask what I said or did to make her think that, but she was right….not the cute part, but the excited part. :) This would be a big neverdone for me — I’d never entered a race, not even during my lazily “athletic” days in high school.

They announced it was almost time to start, so the crowd converged. I said goodbye to my pre-race bud because she was walking and was supposed to stay at the back. I moved forward and found an empty little spot to stand where I could prep my Shuffle, which I’d brought to help me with pacing. All the songs are in order of beats per minute, so I found the section I’d been playing during my recent training runs. I queued the first song to “Unmarked Helicopters” by Soul Coughing. 128 bpm.

The horn sounded, and we were off. It was a slow little jog at first, but very quickly the speed picked up. It was incredibly difficult to run at the slooooooww pace I’d pre-determined with my first song….in fact, I just couldn’t do it. I had energy, I was ready to go, go, GO! Plus I felt a ton of pressure to keep up with the other runners around me. I kept forwarding my Shuffle to the next song, looking for something just a little faster.

Finally, I ran across an hour-long Podrunner mix I could live with, adjusting my speed down just a tad. I fell into stride with the beat. It still seemed slow, but, knowing I had to last awhile, I shoved that nagging peer pressure to the back of my brain.

At mile one, they called out “10:58!” when I passed.

I tried to distract myself from my tight leg muscles by watching the runners around me. There was a speed walker who glided nearby. Up ahead, there was a skinny bald guy with whom I was keeping pace. There were several women and teenagers who passed me, then later I passed them, then later they passed me again….we zigzagged like that almost the whole way. My self esteem fell backward a notch when a young woman jogged steadily past me, pushing a baby stroller.

At mile two, I heard “22:29!” shouted at me above the funky Podrunner medley. I was convinced I’d not be able to run another mile, but at the same time I was determined not to break stride with the song.

It was not easy. But, in a perfect example of mind over body, I did it. I ran — OK, jogged — past the large digital timer at the finish line just as it flashed “36:13.” Not great, but not shameful. And NOT ONCE did I walk!

At home about an hour later, parts of my lower body were throbbing in disconcerting ways. I stretched for quite a long time in front of the TV. An hour after that, most of the throbbing parts had decided to hurt. I mega-dosed some ibuprophen, took a loooooong hot shower, and went to bed.

I’m fine today!

So far, anyway.