I ran my first 5K three years ago today. It was the Summer Breeze 5K in Charlotte, North Carolina, and it was before this blog became a full-fledged running blog. Because of that, I never wrote a recap for that race.
But that race was the beginning of my running journey. Just two months earlier, I had started running, and I had run up to six miles by that time so I figured I was ready for a 5K, and signed up on a whim. I remember being so nervous. It's laughable now, especially considering I'll run a 5K on a weekly basis as a training run in the blazing Charleston heat if given the chance. But back then with no racing experience under my ill-fitting running shoes, I was nervous.
It was hot and humid that day, as Charlotte typically is in June, and I had no real goals other than to finish. I figured based on my regular runs, that I'd come in somewhere around 27 or 28 minutes. I finished in 26:51, an 8:39 pace, and I had no idea whether that was good, bad, or somewhere in between. I was just happy I finished.
But that race left me with the racing bug. A few days later, I signed up to train for my first marathon with a group in Charlotte (and I signed up for the marathon). I must have still had a humidity hangover from the 5K. But I ran that marathon a few months later. I was undertrained, it was slow and sometimes painful, but it was quite an experience!
Over the past few years, I've raced in 4 states, run 19 more 5Ks, 8 half marathons, 3 10Ks, a handful of other distances, and a few novelty races (never again). I've paced a friend to a PR, I've watched my own PRs slip away due to illness, and I've fundraised for an animal rescue while training for that marathon. Running races was a major part of my 35 before 35 list and I hit every single race goal I had.
I've run and raced through pregnancy. Even if running became extremely sporadic after the pregnancy halfway point, and eventually dwindled down to nothing for a few months, I was glad to have run as much as I did while pregnant. As soon as I got the all clear, I was back at it.
Then I ran while recovering from pregnancy, and it was almost like starting over from scratch. My (small amount of) speed was missing in action, my core was wobbly, my endurance took a wrong turn on the race course and got lost, and my race times were disappointing and slower than when I had first started running. But I kept at it, and eventually came back and PR'd in both the half and the 5K distance (only to be smacked with summer heat and humidity and forced to wait until fall for the bigger PRs that I know I'm capable of).
This running journey is a crazy thing. We runners torture ourselves in all kinds of weather. We push ourselves to go faster, to go longer. We're seen as crazy people to the general population. But I wouldn't trade it. Running has given me so many things, not the least of which is friendships with other crazy runners. It's also offered me hours of cheaper-than-therapy therapy (running shoe collection notwithstanding), improved my overall health, and shown me that I can accomplish what seems like the impossible. And with that, I'm off to hit the track in 90 degree heat where I'll attempt to hit some speedy paces. Impossible? Not as long as I just keep moving (and stay hydrated).