The day before Mother’s Day, I ran my first official 10K! It was the longest I’ve run — ever — in my life. 😉
Nine months ago my fellow Girl Scout moms decided to run the Disney Tinkerbell race, and so without really putting much thought into it I signed up along with them. The rules specified that you had to keep a 16-min pace per mile, or else they would pick you up.
After I signed up, I tried my luck and collapsed after 2 and something miles. My pace? 19 mins per mile (Okay, 18’57”). Eeek.
My only goal was not to get picked up by the car. I knew I had to increase my chances of that by attempting to get in shape (read: get back my pre-baby weight and body). After all, it always helps to work towards something.
Now I will have you know that I’m not a runner (can’t you tell by my run time?). And never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get into distance running. But the people around me were very encouraging, and the trails in this area are pretty. The air is clean and it wasn’t too hot. So I thought, why not! In Sam’s words, “I might as well try.”
I started off on the right foot (pun intended), by getting good shoes. Some good friends pointed me to a shop called Road Runner. They review your running style and foot needs, and then custom-shape a sole accordingly. Of course, they also sell you a shoe to go with it.
As I waited for my turn, I eavesdropped on some of the triathletes present picking out their shoes. Some of them threw advice my way, seeing as how I was a lost duck. And that’s how I ended up with my very first pair of Asics. I wouldn’t have picked that brand on my own.
Those triathletes knew what they were talking about, because I do like my shoes! I immediately felt the difference. I could go for longer periods of time and the usual aches and pains that made it hard to walk after, weren’t there. Hurray!
Schedule-wise, I tried to get out whenever I could. As a parent with multiple responsibilities, it was very hard to be consistent about exercise. It’s not an excuse; it’s just how our lifestyle has been set up. In between caring for two other human beings and their multitude of activities, the household chores and the little projects here and there, sometimes I’d just rather sleep (at this age — can you blame me?!). When we were fixing up the house, it was hard because I’d have to free up my mornings waiting for suppliers to come. I consoled myself with the fact that my frequent trips up and down our stairs were a workout enough. Sometimes I’d think, “I could run…. or do the groceries….” The guilty-mom in me would choose the latter.
In any case, I learned to be ok with my consistently inconsistent exercise schedule. Thank goodness for the 10-month prep time. I had time to try to build a regular exercise schedule.
At one point, I pushed a little too hard, I actually injured myself and couldn’t run for 4 weeks. My aunt who runs all over Canada told me to take time and stretch. Even she at 50 does not run everyday. She tries to put some stretching in between her running days. I had to remember that!
When I was ready to hit the trails again, my brother-in-law gave me the best tip I’ve had to date: Interval running. According to him, a one minute break in between consistent running times should help build stamina and endurance. The minute is more than enough time for your heart to recover and re-circulate oxygen (Incidentally, an app called Couch to 5k gives you a similar interval training).
I started with one minute runs and one minute walks, and as the weeks went by I was able to gradually increase the run time. Thank you FitBit for tracking all of that as we went along.
The next thing was the music. My triathlete friend Mench (she pens the blog Wandermench), advised that I kick the earbuds habit so I could focus on my running form. I tried that for a while… and just couldn’t do it. At the very least, thanks to Mench, I was now conscious of how my feet hit the ground and how I held myself up. I used the Running stations of Spotify to help me keep a beat.
But if I’m being honest, I find running to be lonely. And thankfully I have mom friends in my village who encourage me to keep going by running with me too!
Prior to the Tinkerbell race, we did a few 5K runs in the area. It was also a gauge to see where we were in terms of time.
I was fairly happy with the times I posted, but they will still pretty close to the 16-minute per mile mark. More than that, it was then when I realized I was a social runner. I did much better running alongside other people.
So a month before the actual 10K, I proposed that a group of us would get together every Sunday morning at 630AM and run different trails in the area. As my friend Cindy said, we held each other accountable. The first few Sundays, most of us would show up because we knew someone else was waiting.
We kept that up until the Tinkerbell 10K, and even rode together to Disneyland that morning (Thanks my husband, our Uber Driver).
I was corralled in the same lot as Cindy, and she paced me the entire race. Complete with a bathroom break, some water stops and picture-taking along the way, we finished with a 13’47” pace, way ahead of the car (and if I may say, a big improvement from the 19-min pace I started out with!).
It wasn’t enough to win us any kind of distinction, but it was a personal achievement nonetheless. And more importantly, we had fun!
We kept the Sunday morning run group in the weeks that followed, and added on some other moms as well. We agree: the schedule works for us because our households are still asleep, we get a good workout and some active me-time as well.
I’ve gotten so used to running on Sunday morning that even when my family took a trip out-of-town, I posted my hotel treadmill run to our group to let them know I didn’t slack off. 😉
Running a 5k used to take the living daylights out of me. Now, I can survive a 10k almost every Sunday and still function properly. My resting heart rate has decreased, which is a good sign! I’ve started carving out time during the week too, to get at least one or two other days’ worth of exercise when I can. It’s still not consistent yet, but I hope it will get there soon.
I am happy and forever grateful I have a group like them to motivate me to get up and be a little bit healthier at least once a week. I do feel stronger, despite the bodily aches and pains that eventually come after a long run (that comes with old age I suppose).
I feel better over-all. Because of these awesome women, on Sundays I choose my social running over sleep, and I’ve not regretted it since. 😉