Competition is my Driving Force

I am not a runner – I just need to get that out of the way before I tell you what I’ve been up to.

As I mentioned in my 22 Days In post, once my surgeon cleared me for exercise beyond walking, I joined a gym. My membership came with four complimentary sessions with a trainer, it took me a while to get over my insecurities, but about a month later, I started personal training sessions with a trainer named Shirley.  Shirley, is great, she doesn’t let her clients dial it in, so every time I meet with her, I know I have to give 100%, even if I don’t feel like it. She pushes me farther that I would ever push myself and I’ve noticed that I am stronger and have much more stamina than I did when I first started working with her a couple of months ago. One thing I love to do outside of the gym is participate in 5K runs. If you have never heard of a 5K run, it’s a timed event where participants run, walk or jog/walk 5 Kilometers (3.1 miles) – many of these events raise money for a charity or specific organizations, some do not, they are strictly for competition purposes.

My first 5K was way back in 2004, the day before my 33rd birthday. I had met and bonded with a group of remarkable women who were on the same weight loss/getting healthier journey that I was on and we participated in the event as a group. I fell in love with during that first race, it was a wonderful feeling to be among hundreds of runners, yet only competing with yourself.  I did two races that year before getting bursitis in my left hip and plantar fasciitis in both feet, causing me take a step back from the weekly walk/jog sessions with my friends. It was rough for a few years, I gained some weight back with the lack of exercise and life “stuff” but I continued to participate in 5Ks, off and on completing seven 5Ks between November of 2009 and March of 2016, including an extremely difficult and incredibly hilly race on Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in Camp Pendleton, California with my friend Molly (still my favorite of all the races).

Now that I am getting healthier, I decided it was time to get back to it so I signed up for the Evergreen Pumpkin Run, a 5K and 10 mile run through Evergreen Cemetery, boasted as Jacksonville’s oldest operating cemetery. It was my first 5K in a year and a half and the weather was perfect, a beautiful, brisk and windy morning keeping the temperatures fairly low (around 60 degrees or so).  The Emcee was on the microphone, speaking to the crown about the difference between the first and second waves and reminding participants to line up behind their pace flags so I headed to the back of the line, where the walkers are supposed to line up. The starting gun for the more serious runners goes off, and the rest of us slowly proceed to our new starting line, making the pace flags irrelevant. The starting gun for the second wave goes off and we start moving a little faster, then we reach the actual starting line and suddenly, everyone starts jogging.  I started out pretty strong; jogging and walking an equivalent amount, maybe even jogging a little bit more often than walking. I found a small group of women who were walk/jogging at a steady pace and I decided to keep pace with them, this lasted for the first mile to mile and a half, when I noticed I was starting to slow down. By the time I reached the two-mile marker, I could still see them, but I wasn’t going to catch up to them; I just wasn’t prepared to keep that pace the whole race.

I passed the two-mile marker, I was making good time, but I could tell I was loosing steam, I wasn’t jogging as long as I was in the beginning and my walking pace was slower too. My new pace buddies were an elderly couple and a woman carrying her daughter, but they were still jogging and I was determined to keep up!

The three-mile marker came into view, participants were lined up along the path, cheering us on, the finish line was in sight, I started jogging again; I had to finish strong!  Finally, I cross the finish line, get my much deserved medal, bottle of water and a banana and head home, very satisfied with myself.

My goal for this 5K was to complete it in under 50 minutes – my chip time was 45 minutes and 7 seconds! I am so excited and proud of myself. No, it’s not my best time, but is definitely the best I’ve done in the past 8 years! I plan to do my next 5K on Thanksgiving morning, then hopefully one a month until April or May, when it starts getting too hot to do anything outside.

Like I said, I am NOT a runner, but I am super competitive with myself and I will not be satisfied unless I create a new personal best and it seems that the only way to do that is by running, so I it looks like I might become a runner after all!

2017 Pumpkin Run Results

Pumpkin Run Medal

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