Saturday I participated in my first official 5K event. The 5K I have been training for during the appropriately named, "Couch to 5K." Leading up to the event I was having a little issue with running. Mostly I just hated it. And it is starting to get really hot here. So unless I want to wake up at 3:00 in the morning, I just sort of suffer through. But I was determined to finish this race. I will admit I briefly considered ditching it when I found out Aaron wasn't running with me but I went ahead and made hotel reservations so I couldn't back out. I'm glad I did.
I went into the race with a personal goal time of 38 minutes. I know this sounds slow to all of you fast little rabbits out there. But I am a turtle. A big, slow turtle. Or tortoise if you're really picky. I had previously run 3.1 in 38 minutes a couple of times so I knew it was possible. But here's a little fun fact. Flagstaff sits at 7,000 feet above sea level. My little town sits at about 1,200 feet. My husband says we're a little higher because we sit on the ascent of a (small) mountain but I don't know. Let's just round up and say that is a 5,500 foot difference. This is a huge difference. I optimistically told myself my training in the heat would offset this a little because it would be nice and cool in Flag. And it was in the high 60s or low 70s when the race started. I was definitely just right in my shorts and sleeveless running shirt. I started out towards the back, unfortunately behind quite a few walkers. I intended to start out slow and do my 4/1 jog and walk breaks. I started out at my usual pace of around 11 to 11.5 minute miles. About three minutes in I realized I could not breathe. What is up with the air? Oh, you mean it's thinner at 7,000 feet? Of course I knew this but I don't think I KNEW it. I thought I was going to vomit. And then HILLS. Because thin air isn't enough. They want to kill you with hills. So about a mile in I abandoned all training plans and almost abandoned the race. I thought, "Who could care if I just walked off the course?" I would care. So I started walking. I walked until I could catch my breath. And sure a man with his two kids, a man in his seventies and a woman pushing a wheelchair passed me. But I didn't throw up and I didn't quit. Eventually I caught my breath and had a little water. Now normally I don't drink water from a hose. I just kept telling myself it was probably mountainy fresh water. I then started jogging. And I ended up jogging for an extended period of time. But this time I went about 12 miles per hour. And I felt pretty good. I just kept going. Eventually I started slowing down and I knew it was time for a walk break. And I did this through the whole race. I finally turned the corner where I could see the finish line and I decided to just run all out. All out being about 6 miles per hour. Even though I felt a little like throwing up. I just turned up my music and sprinted to the finish. And then I heard them announce my name and I saw my kids waving and I knew I had really done it. I had finished my first 5K. And I had run a good portion. My official end time was 37.56. I swear I was about 30 seconds faster but my Garmin only read 3.04 miles so I guess the extra time makes up for the missed distance. But I made my goal of 38 minutes in a race where I didn't initially think I would finish. It makes me optimistic about the other things I'm capable of.