Tuesday, May 20, 2008

If I can do it, anyone can. (Confessions of a non-runner).

So, I have always had this weird desire to be a runner. It was a weird desire because no matter how much I wanted to "be a runner," I didn't enjoy the actual running. I just wanted to "be a runner" and run races and wear cool running clothes and stuff. I guess deep down, I wanted the end result without any of the work. Once I realized that that was nearly impossible....okay, totally impossible....I decided to do the work.

In May of 2005, I started a run/walk program that was to gradually take me from a walker to a runner. Well, about a month into the program, I began to have some knee pain. I tried to run through the pain, but it got worse. I went to a doctor and learned that I had really sucky connectors between my quad muscles and my knee joint. (I'm sure there's a much more technically correct way to say that). So I went to physical therapy a couple times a week for another month or so. I continued walking and doing a little running. Then, on July 7, a little blue line forever changed my life. And my running plans, as it turns out. I called my physical therapist and told him I didn't feel like running anymore. So I quit! Call me crazy, but being pregnant was enough for me to focus on. Once morning sickness ended, I was back at work and thought naps were more fun than running. :)

Fast forward to April of 2008. Three whole years later, and the urge to "be a runner" hits me again. A group of friends decided to take part in the inaugural Maple Grove half marathon and 5K. I was excited for them but was pretty sure I would be watching from the sidelines. Then one of those friends said she was doing something called the "Couch to 5K" program and that I should check it out. So I did! It was a program similar to the one I had tried three years earlier. It's broken into walking and running at various intervals for 9 weeks. Okay, obstacle number one: I had 6 weeks until the 5K. And presumable obstacle number two: I had a bad knee. Remember? Physical therapy? I couldn't do that again!

Never the less, I decided to start the program. I got a calendar and figured out how to cram the 9 weeks into 6. I got a cheap stopwatch at Target. I mapped out my course outside. And most importantly, I got new shoes. REAL running shoes. From a place where they actually measure your foot and give you a food that FITS it. (12 narrow, for the record). I fell in love with the shoes right away. And the next day, I ran.

Day 1, I jogged for a minute. Then walked for one and a half. Then jogged, then walked. The whole thing was repeated for 25 minutes. It wasn't a walk in the park to run for a whole minute, but I certainly didn't feel like I was going to die. In fact, I went on to the second phase a day early because I was feeling pretty confident. Run one and a half minutes, walk two. Repeat for 25 minutes. Okay, adding 30 seconds was a little harder than I expected. but it got easier every day. Then I was hit by the bus called phase three. Run one and a half, walk one and a half, run THREE, walk three. THREE??? What happened to two? Or two and a half? You seriously think I can just skip to THREE MINUTES and be okay with it? Well, I was okay with it. It wasn't as impossible as I made it out to be. The program continued. The running increased, the walking decreased. I surprised myself each time I started a new phase and didn't die. Before I knew it, I was running for five minutes at a time. Eight minutes at a time. Ten minutes at a time! It was crazy. And the best part? My knees were fine! Sure, I had shin splints to beat the band, but my knees were fine and that's all I cared about.

A couple weeks before the race, I was still a little leery that I would be ready. But I had registered, so there was no backing out! I was pretty sure I would probably do a combination of running and walking, but I was definitely going to do it. Those weeks leading up to the 5K included a 20 minute run, a 25 minute run, a 28 minute run, and a 30 minute run. I glanced at the program and noticed that 30 minutes of running is as high as it went. Crap! I couldn't run three (well, 3.1) miles in 30 minutes! I need an extra week! Someone, quick, call the people in charge of the Maple Grove race and tell them I need an extra week. Yeah, unlikely. I decided to factor in a three-mile run after my 30 minute run. Just to see if I could do it. Three days before the race, I ran for three miles. Unfortunately, it took me 40 minutes. But I ran for 40 minutes without stopping! Are you kidding me? No, I'm not! I deemed myself ready for the race. And I even set a goal. Break 40 minutes and never stop to walk.

Then the race day came. And it was a beautiful one! Millions of people (or right around a thousand, anyway) crowded into the Maple Grove Senior High track. About 600 were there to take part in the half marathon (crazy people!) and the rest were doing the 5K with me. We watched the crazy half marathoners start their race and took our places at the starting line. The gun (er, blowhorn) went off and we were off! Like a herd of cattle, really. We ran the proclaimed "flat, fast" course and basked in the sun in the process. I ran with my mom. Well, she racewalked. But we were together for the whole race. And just like that, it was over! I mean, after a lot of heavy breathing and hard work, it was over. But I met both of my goals. Our time was right around 38 minutes, and I never had to stop to walk!

So, there you have it. I am, apparently, a runner. And I like it! So much so that I have registered for two more 5Ks in the next month. I'm out of control! :)

2 comments:

Jenny, Mike and Paige said...

Good For You! I'm feeling a little guilty reading your post with a glass full of milk and a handful of cookies though. I recently tried to do some post baby crunches. Disappointing. However...you've inspired me to try again!

Shiloh said...

I'm a friend of Holly Clark, and I ran across your blog from her page. First, I'm sorry about the loss of your friend. I was brought to tears as I read your story about her life, and I will continue to pray for you as you heal.

Like you, I am not a runner but I've always wanted to run. A month ago I rode 150 miles on a bike for the MS Society. Before that, I was not a biker, but after training for four months and riding over 500 miles to train, I realized that I am in fact a biker. So then I realized that I wanted to do a spring tri next summer. But in order to do that, I have to become a runner.

So Holly sent me the same guide you used (Couch to 5K), and I'm on week three. I'm running three mins, walk three, run 90 seconds, walk 90 seconds, etc. It's tough for me (especially in the Mile High City-stupid alititude), but I am determined to be a runner and run a K5 in October.

I figured if I can ride 150 miles, then I can run 3.1 miles, right?