(Gideon and I after my first 5K for the Brennan Stands Alone Foundation in Seaside Heights NJ)
Many people are shocked to find out that I did not start running until after I had my first child. They are typically even more shocked when I tell them that I did not really enjoy it either. After Gideon was born, he had a wealth of health issues and complications and I was seriously struggling with processing what was going on and adjusting to my new life as a mom. I had always been a physically active person but adding a baby and a recent move into the mix left me in need of finding a new outlet. At the time, my husband was active duty Air Force and he was consistently running and encouraging me to start running as well. I first started running indoors on a treadmill because it was getting cold outside and I would do intervals of walking and running. As I struggled to get through the running portions of the intervals I started crying out to God and speaking truth to myself. I often found myself thanking God for the body that He had given me and the ability to move. As I continued to run, I was able to run for a slightly longer period of time before stopping to walk.
When the weather became nice enough to run outside, my husband brought me to an area that is called the “P.” This area is marked off into .25 increments and is a total of 1.5 miles. The very first time he brought me out, I didn’t even make it to the first .25 marker :0 Even though I had started conditioning my body, it was still weak. I had a long way to go. As I continued to run outside, God continued to work in my heart more and more. I found that through conditioning my physical body, God was also conditioning my spiritual body. Running became a time in my day that I was alone to talk to God about what was going on in my life and a time where he was speaking to me and revealing Himself to me.
As time continued, my husband asked if I would be willing to run a 5K with him and I was so excited but nervous at the same time. I never thought I would be able to run 3.1 miles. So we started to train for the even that would take place on the NJ boardwalk. Most of the training plans that I came across only had you complete about 2.75 miles as the longest run before your race and I was not ok with that. I needed to know that I could at least complete the 5K without crawling across the finish line. So, Mattie took me out a few days before the race and ran with me for 3 miles to help calm my nerves. Although I now knew I could run 3 miles, I was still beyond nervous come the day of the race.
It has now been 6 years, many races, and longer distances since that first 5K. Here is a list of things that I wish I knew before I ran my first 5K:
Hydrate the day before
One of the biggest mistakes that I made in my first 5K was not hydrating the day before. Not only was race day hotter than I expected, but I had horrible side stitches.
Prepare what you are going to wear the night before the race
For some reason I waiting until the morning of the race to figure out what I was going to wear and then I could not find what I was looking for. It left me slightly frazzled.
Make sure you eat breakfast but nothing new
Because I did not have my stuff ready the night before and could not find what I was looking for, it left me with little time to eat an actual breakfast before the race. I grabbed a cliff bar that I knew would settle well but found myself starving and lacking fuel part way through the 5K
Arrive early and pee/warm up before it starts
We arrived with enough time before the race to get our race packets, warm up, and use the bathroom before we started, but I was so nervous waiting for the race to start that I felt like I had to pee again!
Pace yourself even through the excitement
When the 5K began, I was so excited and wanted to run just as fast as everybody else. I soon found that this was a bad idea. I could not keep the pace that I started with and found myself struggling to continue.
Don’t forget to celebrate!
Even if the race did not go exactly how you though it would or if you ended up walking part way through, you still completed your first 5K!! Celebrate the fact that you did something that you have never done before. The great thing about running is that you get to compete with yourself, so set a new goal for your next 5K and try to beat it!