I blame MTAE for introducing me to Marie of Cheaper Than Therapy (or introducing her to me, whichever, I don’t remember). Turns out she’s a funny lady who shares my taste in death metal, tweeting from work, and very sick humor. But she also has this disgusting running habit. Ugh. (We won’t even talk about the beer.)
The thing is, I started having this weird-ass and completely alien-to-me thought – “maybe I could do that whole running thing? Just once, to say I did it?”
So Marie gets the blame credit for inspiring yesterday’s idiocy.
See, in the morning I got an email saying that the U’s alumni association was having a 5k Fun Run on May 29th. “5k, hmm?” I did the math. Ok, let me stop lying, I looked it up on the ‘net. 3.1 miles.
I thought about it. For the last several weeks I’ve been doing cardio for 30 minutes at least 3-4 times a week. On non-weightlifting days, I stretch and then hit it for another 30 minutes. Admittedly, it wasn’t super strenuous cardio. But hey. I’m not a runner – I haven’t run more than mile at once in…hmm, I think ever – but I’m not exactly 100% in Couch-to-5k territory, either.
I walked over to the door of my office manager, who ran a couple of marathons before a knee injury ended all that. “Hey, you said once that that loop around the park was right at 3 miles, didn’t you?” “Yeah, 3 exactly.” Google maps says it’s a little longer than that, but what the hell.
I figured, what’s the best way to see if I can survive a 5k? How about attempting a 5k?
I’d just taken a bike ride with Boy to the park and then around this very loop on Saturday morning, so the layout was fresh in my mind. My workout bag was in the car. All I had to do was change destinations. I deliberately didn’t think too much about it. Instead of heading for the gym, I drove to the park, parked on the far side near the horse stables (instead of the parking lot where most folks stop/end), did the whole changing-my-pants-in-the-car-and-hoping-nobody-drives-up thing, grabbed my cell phone (just in case of freak ankle sprains, etc.) and my iPod, and gave it a shot.
I’d glanced at the Couch to 5k plan. I didn’t have any delusions about actually running the 5k – not this one, and not the on on the 29th, either. WAY too short to go from no-running to that sort of endeavor. I just planned to take it slow, intersperse jogging with walking, and see how it went. I figured I could stop about halfway (more like 2/3 of the way, as it turned out) at the other parking lot where I knew there was a water fountain. If things were going well, I could stretch out a bit, get some water, and finish it off. If it was going badly, well, that was a good place to call Dys and ask for a pickup. (There were also a few strategic places before that point just in case I was much more wussy than I’d thought.)
Conveniently it was 5:00 on the dot when I left the car. I turned on the metal (Smash the World, Ma!), walked the first few hundred yards, passed a little old Asian lady in a big straw hat, then picked it up to a jog.
Predictably, the jogging thing didn’t last very long, but that was okay. The weather was just about perfect for such an attempt – upper 60s and cloudy, not too humid – so I just used the light poles interspersed around the park not as progress meters but as goals. “Okay, when I get to that pole, I’ll jog some more. Okay, next pole I’ll walk – no, wait, I can make it one more.”
Not surprisingly, I got passed by a handful of 50-ish guys. But at least I was smart enough not to take it personally. My flat feet have never been all that friendly over distance – when I run I sound like a cavalry charge. As they went by, I tried to watch their stride and see if there was something in their mechanics that I could learn. I experimented with short, long, side-to-side, height, and all other kinds of motions and ended up just kind of settling into the one that felt best at the time. I doubt my form was good at all, but it worked.
Also predictably, I got a stitch in my side around the end of the first mile, and my ankles and shins started bothering me a little before that. Neither was particularly surprising. My existing cardio routine was all elliptical and stationary bike – neither all that ankle-heavy, compared to heaving my 200-pound ass upward and forward once a second or so. But it wasn’t anything horrid. When I made it around to the parking lot, I took a drink of water, took a couple of minutes to stretch out my hamstrings, quads, and calves, took another drink, and kept on going.
Toward the end there I was definitely just moving toward a goal and not exactly having fun, but I wasn’t in anything like the discomfort for which I’d steeled myself. When the last turn was ahead, I had enough left in the tank to break into an actual run for 100 yards or so before slowing back to a cool-down walk to the car. Time: 0:53, just inside the hour goal I’d set for myself. (When I got home, Dys said, “I don’t know what a good time for a 5k is.” I said, “Probably under 20 minutes.” But I’ll take it.) No injury, no serious pain – and honestly, not nearly as much boredom as churning away in the cardio room at the damned gym. That was a nice surprise.
Of course, I figured I’d pay for it in spades this morning. But I was wrong. Yeah, I’m a touch sore, but only my ankles and shins are any more so than after a good workout. Nothing discouraging. Rather the opposite, in fact.
So I guess I’m signing up for a 5k at the end of the month. I’m not exactly going to be competing, but I’ll finish and earn my t-shirt. It’ll be a nice little goal to work toward. And after that, well, who knows? I’ll see how my body treats me and evaluate from there.
Now for this afternoon, when I experiment with deadlifting post-5k. Heheh.