The exciting news of the weekend is that I ran my first 5K yesterday. I've been thinking about doing one for awhile, but 5Ks have come and gone this fall without me running any of them. I think I was more determined about this one, partly because of being so irritated about having Lyme disease. So, I guess I ran this in the spirit of, "Take that, you blasted Lyme bacteria." Or something like that.
Basically, what I learned is that if you can run 3.1 miles outside on your own, there's no reason you can't run 3.1 miles among hundreds of other people doing the same thing. What I liked about this race is that it was huge (more than 4000 people, with 2500 or so walking and 1500 or so running) and not particularly intimidating. Yes, there were elite runners up in front who got to leave right when the gun went off (not actually a real gun, more of a "ready, set, go") rather than nearly 5 minutes later, but there were also old people and young people and babies tucked into strollers and people who looked rather stout to be runners and people in costumes--a polar bear and a penguin, as per the logo above, a tortoise who ran at the very, very end and a whole host of marshmallows, as befitting a run at which hot chocolate was served at the finish line.
I'd been a bit nervous ahead of time, given that I've been on Doxycycline for more than 2 weeks, and I'd been feeling a bit queasy in the few days before the race. There was also the fact that I never exercise in the morning, if I can possibly help it, and I don't particularly like the cold. (It was 30 degrees at the 10 a.m. race time.) I left my stuff at Alex's house and walked over, to avoid any parking insanity, and he'd insisted that I wear an extra fleece and my hat, but when I got there, there didn't seem to be anyplace to leave them. Thankfully, the nice folks at the Chameleons hair salon--all of whom were running or walking themselves--let me leave them there.
The only thing that surprised me was that there weren't more people I knew there. I ran into my friend Michael at the end and saw my friend Susan, who was volunteering, but that was about it. The one mean thing I thought about the course was that the only real hills were just after the 2 mile mark when the course cut across the Smith campus. I'd seen Susan before the race, and I saw her right before the second Smith hill, and though she was wearing hiking shoes, a down jacket and long underwear, she ran up the hill with me, which I thought was very nice of her.
I still don't know my exact time, since I left at least 4 minutes after the official start, but it was somewhere around 35-36 minutes, so just under 12 minute miles. No one, including me, would say that was at all fast, but for a person who didn't run for 20 years, I thought it was just fine. The even better number is that the run raised more than $90,000 for Safe Passage, which is a local domestic violence organization. (Update: The final results are in. My time was 35:13, 11:21 a mile. I'm pleased that it was closer to 11 minutes than 12 a mile, and I was right that I left a full 5 minutes after the gun.)
And afterward, after I'd collected my mug and chatted with Michael and drunk my hot chocolate (slightly burned, alas) and fetched my jacket and hat from Chameleons, I wandered back to Alex's via the new winter farmer's market (where I got some spinach) and Cornucopia (where I got some Sidehill Farm yogurt) and the Pleasant Street Video store, where I got some movies. I ran into Andy and showed off my race number (3239). And after tea with Alex and a few more errands, I came home and got to feel virtuous for the rest of the day, which is the advantage, I learned, to morning exercise, especially at 106% of your maximum heart rate. (Well, so said my trusty heart rate monitor which, I have to assume, was mistaken.)
And one more time, I have to give a shout out to Couch to 5K (which I first wrote about earlier this year here) because without being talked through an easy, systematic way to start running, I'm not sure I would have done it. And now here I am, one very slow 5K down, thinking about when I might run another.