June 1, 2013 – The day I learned a few critical lessons about running a 5k, and wish I could do over.
When I registered for my first 5k, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Remembering back to Running Wife’s first 5k, the vision in my head was that it would definitely be difficult but that ultimately it came down to just putting one foot in front of the other until the finish line.
Boy was I wrong.
Well, I was right that it was difficult but I was completely, 100% without a doubt, wrong in my simplistic thinking that it would be a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. Shame on me too, as the primary reasons that I had such a hard time were things that I was aware of beforehand, but somehow thought I would be impervious to for no real reason.
#1 – Running On Elliptical ≠ Running Outside
Oh man, I was warned but scoffed at Running Wife.
Yeah, yeah. I knew that running outside was going to be different than running on the elliptical machine, yet I grossly underestimated just how different it would be. The majority of my training leading up to the 5k was done on our elliptical machine, and I was cruising through 3+ miles without a problem.
It actually felt good!
As race day drew closer, I started to mix in some sessions outside to start preparing for what it would be like. It was definitely harder but I thought that I would be fine on race day. Based on my scientific calculations, I estimated that I would breeze through the first 1.5 to 2.0 miles and then might need to slow my pace.
Well, let me tell you…I was not fine and after the first 1/2 mile, if my pace would have slowed any more I would have been going backwards.
There truly is no comparison between running on the elliptical and running outside, and I learned a true respect for that fact. The hard way, unfortunately.
#2 – Don’t Blow Your Wad Too Early
That sounds dirty, huh.
A lot of the information I had read about preparing for your first 5k stressed the importance of setting a reasonable pace at the start line, as one of the most common mistakes was starting too fast and being completely out of gas half way through the race.
Again, I had this information but inexplicably ignored it completely.
Maybe the rush of heading off with the pack of runners in my wave clouded my judgement; or maybe it was a deep desire to impress Running Wife with my athletic prowess. Whatever the reason, by the time we curved through the first few turns and the long straight-away, I was gasping for oxygen like a fish out of water.
My wad was blown and we were barely into the race.
Despite thinking that I was setting a reasonable pace at the start, I clearly had no point of reference and started off way too aggressively. As we passed through the first obstacle, I honestly felt like I would be getting carted out of the venue in an ambulance.
Wait a second…obstacle?
#3 – Keep It Simple For Your First 5k
Completing the trifecta of mistakes, I brilliantly selected an obstacle laden zombie 5k run as my first ever race.
Now, I don’t know if you have ever done one of these, but let me explain.
Throughout the course there are strategically placed obstacles; think Dirty Girl or Mud Run but without as much mud. In case that isn’t enough, they also have zombies roaming around the course waiting to “infect” you by stealing the three flags you are given at the start. These zombies come after you and you need to dodge, duck and roll away from them to stay safe.
Yeah, I was infected by the third obstacle! (And then became a human shield.)
The hilarious part is that before the race, I was visualizing myself finishing the race with at least one flag and earning the Survivor medal. Not. Even. Close.
In hindsight, I should have planned better and participated in a plain old vanilla 5k race for my maiden voyage into the race world. You know, the kind through the paved streets of a local neighborhood where the homeowners sit out in their lawn chairs and cheer you on.
Had I not committed mistake #1 and #2 above, maybe the zombie run would have been okay for my first race. But when you combine all three things together, I didn’t stand a chance.
So What Does It All Mean?
Looking back on the experience, I think I can safely say that running sucks!
No, really. 🙂
As much as I’d like to say that I loved the experience, I really didn’t. However, I think a lot of that has to do with how ill prepared I really was and the fact that it was a somewhat embarrassing display of fitness on my part.
But ultimately, deep down in the depths of my being, I honestly don’t think that I will ever love running the way that Running Wife does. She thrives on running; can’t run enough. She has done so many 5k races, 10k races, and a half-marathon that I can’t even count them – and she wants to do a marathon.
Maybe I will feel differently when I run a standard 5k race; you know, the kind without obstacles, zombies and who knows what else.
Somehow I doubt it though.
That doesn’t mean that I am hanging up my running shoes, just that I don’t think I am going to make a sport of signing up for races and running like crazy. I’ll continue to incorporate running – or maybe I should say jogging – as part of my exercise routine, but I’m not going to enjoy it!
Stay tuned to see how this plays out, as once I get in better shape and can handle a 5k run better, maybe I will get addicted to the thrill of finishing a race and striving for new personal records.
Just don’t hold your breath.