I Ran My First 5k and Won!

Yesterday I ran my first 5k, and won! Well, at least in my eyes. There were 149 runners that showed up, and I placed 87th with a time of 31 minutes (31:39:88, to be exact, with an average pace of 9:52 a mile). But the fact that I went and finished gives me a great sense of accomplishment.

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There were some crazy fast people there! The first place winner clocked in at a mere 17:08! I can’t imagine running so fast!

There was a murderous, steep mountain hill (aptly named “Falls Hill”) that almost everyone walked up, including me. Most of the course was flat or small hills after that. This race also gave me a new record for my 1 mile time: 5:37 (I’m in disbelief).

There are a few things I’d wish I’d known before going in that would have really calmed my nerves.

1. You pin your bib to the front of your shirt, anywhere. This may seem like common sense to most, but I’d never run nor watched a race before and I thought maybe there was a specific spot on your shirt you had to pin it. Turns out, as long as it is visible you can pin it on your face for all they care.

2. You don’t start being timed until you cross the start line. So even though thirty people got a “head start” on you, you could actually run the same amount of time as them on the course. I found this out because a girl who was way ahead of me crossing the starting line ran just a few seconds shorter than me. If I had known this beforehand, I would have had a lot less stress during the race.

3. Bring your own post race snacks! I had been told there would be snacks and drinks provided. Turns out that was half a banana, a quarter of a half of a bagel (they broke the two sides apart and then cut them into quarters, making 8 pieces), and cheap, off brand bottled water (which gives me major headaches, and was also very warm). I was shocked by how little they provided! I understand that it is hard for them to provide for so many people, but even a whole banana would have been nice. But for the future, I know to bring my post-race food.

4. Crossing the finish line is addicting. After we got home, I immediately got online and began searching for more races.

Overall, it was an amazing experience, and one that I highly wish to repeat. Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to convince someone to run one with me (nudge, nudge sister-in-Florida).

Happy Racing!

Have you ever run a race? Answer in the comments below!

I Made A Huge Running Mistake (And How You Can Avoid It)

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I made a huge mistake when I started running, and I am still paying for it.

Can anyone guess what it was? (Brace yourself, avid runners)

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I bought cheap shoes (the exact ones you see in the picture. Danskin Now running shoe, $15 at good ol’ Wal-Mart) .

I can see your look of horror and hear your shocked “Why?!”

I skimped on shoes because I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep running; up until last year, I absolutely hated running. Explaining why I started is a whole separate post, but the point is, I didn’t want to invest the money in running shoes if I wasn’t going to use them for more than a month. They’re just fancy tennis shoes anyway, right?

WRONG. Within two days of running, I had horribly painful shin splints, and runner’s knee on both sides. I couldn’t walk without excruciating pain shooting through my knees and legs. I sat on the couch, realizing that all the things I’d read about buying the right shoes was important stuff! You can’t start running unless you invest in the right shoe, or you will pay the price (a lesson I learned the hard way).

It was another month before I decided to try again. I scoured the internet trying to find the right shoe for me. I know that you are supposed to go in and get fitted, but honestly, I am just not a people person. Luckily, I came across Runner’s World’s shoe finder, which has you take a short quiz about your running style and then lists shoes that offer what you need. My top recommended shoe was Asics Cumulus Gel 13, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Next in line was the Gel 14, and then some Brooks shoes and a Nike shoe. All of them at least $90, but most well over $100, a long stretch for my single-income family.

Then, like an angel descended from above, Black Friday graced me with its presence. Almost every store had running shoes discounted, but Amazon offered almost all of their shoes at 50-60% off. Can’t beat that!

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I ended up buying the Asics Cumulus Gel 14 for $54.96 (now $80 on sale).

The next week, they arrived on my doorstep. I was so excited to try them out that I set everything out the night before to have a morning run. I laced up immediately after waking up, took a deep breath, and went running. The difference was instantly clear. I felt like I was on air, it was easier to keep a better pace, and I didn’t feel like running was a struggle. And afterwards, though my knees were a bit sore, they didn’t hurt like a million knives were jabbing into them. I decided to run again. And again. And again.

Actually, I’ve decided to never stop running.

I can still feel the effects of those painful first days of running though,. My knees still ache a bit,  especially on days I run. I can’t help feeling that if I’d just started out buying the right shoes I could have avoided that.

Shoes are such an important aspect in running. Really, they are they only aspect. You don’t need special running pants, or jacket, or headphones. Just shoes. They make such a huge difference in the sport, changing a firm running hater into someone who runs so much they run in their dreams.

If you ever tried running and didn’t like it, I beg you to try a different shoe. Or if you are considering running, get a good shoe to begin with! Running stores offer fittings to help you find the right shoe, or if you prefer you can do what I did and research different shoes on your own. But whatever you do, save yourself some trouble and don’t skimp. Make the investment. It is completely, 100% worth it (plus, it might encourage you to get your money’s worth by running more! win-win).

Happy running!

What is your favorite running shoe? Answer in the comments below!

5k’s and Heart Attacks

I’ve been running since last November. I have pushed myself, ran when it’s 10º outside, and cross trained like nobody’s business.

I decided that it was time to move forward.

Sooo….

I entered my first race. (So I wouldn’t have to sell my left arm, some dear family members chipped in on the entry fee. Thank you!)

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It’s just a 5k, a distance I can now run easily (at the moderate pace of a 10 minute mile), but I am nervous out the wazoo. I don’t expect to place, and I will be thankful just for crossing the finish line (not to say I don’t hope I get a 30 minute or less time anyway!).

It’s on  Sunday, February 23rd,  and the weather is supposed to be in the mid-thirties with wind and possibly freezing rain, conditions my sister-in-law that lives in Florida would have a heart attack at the thought of running in.

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Here’s to hoping I don’t have a heart attack myself.

Happy running!

Have you raced before? What was your first race like? Answer in the comments below!