Welcome guest blogger Stephannie Baker, who recently completed her first ever 5k at Arkansas Race for the Cure...
If you had asked me one year ago if I was a runner, I would have told you that I am just not biologically cut out for it. I have always been relatively fit but not athletic. Sure, I can handle some yoga, some weight training. But cardio? Not so much. I was that girl at the gym who would run on a treadmill for about 1 minute and get so out of breath that my ribs would hurt and my thighs would itch. I really just assumed there was something wrong with me.
So last January when my husband started his love affair with running and said to me, “Hey, we should run a 5K in the fall,” I panicked. I know my husband’s determination though; and since the birth of our precious son, we’ve realized we have to work a little harder to have things to talk about other than our baby. This would be a shared passion and bring us closer together. So I just smiled and said, “sure.”
As any mother knows, it’s not that easy to find time to run, especially when you mother as intensely as I do! I admit it: I’m a bit overboard. Needless to say, my husband was reaching his training goals and I was….not. After a brutally hot summer of inactivity, I saw my 5K goal slipping away.
Fortunately for me, my husband introduced me to the concept behind the Couch to 5K program. I didn’t follow the program exactly, but I used the core concept of starting VERY slowly and building up a bit each week. For example, I started my training on week 1 with walking 5 minutes and running 1 minute. I added 1 minute of running each week or so; and before I knew it, I was easily running 5 minutes and walking 1 minute!
I signed up for the 2010 Race for the Cure to motivate myself to keep running. As the date drew closer, I became more excited. This, I thought, was the perfect event for a first-timer like me. I had never been to a Race for the Cure event, but I knew this event would have a wide variety of participants from every fitness level. I wouldn’t feel awkward if I had to walk!
In the weeks just before the event I had a few training hiccups. I had double mastitis and was sick for about a week. And the week before the run, my little guy wasn’t feeling well. But I was still fairly confident that I could run most of the 5K. Then I started hearing from several sources that I would NOT be able to run at all- not because of my own ability, or lack thereof, but because of how crowded the actual course can be. Several friends told me how they wanted to run, but they were limited to walking due to the sheer number of people walking in front of them. I was determined, however, that this would not happen to me.
On the morning of the race, I rode with two girlfriends who were running with the “Elite” group. They very wisely advised me to make my way as far to the front of the pack as I could. So I squeezed my way past all the tweens in pink knee-socks, the co-workers with matching pink cowboy hats, the girlfriends standing in solidarity ready to walk to make a difference, the news crews, the bands, all of the excited bystanders until I finally could not make my way any further. There were probably only 200 or so folks between the start line and me. I was happy with this position, so I let myself relax and enjoy the infectious good vibes. People around me were singing and dancing and jumping up and down. It felt so wonderful to be a part of something so big, so positive. I made friends with the ladies around me and even found a running buddy.
The race started after some inspirational fanfare, and we were off! I actually kept up with my running buddy for about the first half until I took a one-minute walk break. The course was lined with volunteers for the whole 3.1 miles, and they were awesome. The volunteers cheered and shouted words of encouragement; they wore funny costumes, blared upbeat tunes, passed out pink mardi gras beads, and held up signs with clever slogans like, “save second base,” “tutus for tatas,” or “big or small, save them all.” It was an ever-changing, ever-interesting array of fun, and it helped me keep running.
I crossed the finish line right at 35 minutes, which was way better than I thought I was capable of doing. The very best part was seeing my husband and son waiting there for me. The only other time in my life I’ve seen my husband look so proud was right after I gave birth to our son. I might as well have run a marathon in his eyes! I was super proud of myself, too. This was a feat that seemed unattainable not even one year ago.
So, to all of you non-runners out there, let me tell you. If I can do it, you can, too! They key is to start so slowly you feel silly, build up so slowly that you get bored, and stick with it! And if you’re considering the 2011 Race for the Cure as your first 5K, I say go for it. I can’t imagine a more supportive, more fun race for you to start with. Just remember to weasel your way to the front.
Kudos to you, Stephannie. I am so glad that you wrote this year’s race re-cap for me. I love to hear success stories of other runners, and your account of the race brought back memories of the first time I ran at Race for Cure. Here’s to many more 5Ks! ~ Fawn