My first 5K, part 2: I did it!

 
 
Posted5/6/2018 7:15 AM
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  • I accomplished all three of my goals at the DuPage Human Race 5K in Downers Grove: I finished, I finished in less than an hour and I didn't trip over anything. VICTORY!

      I accomplished all three of my goals at the DuPage Human Race 5K in Downers Grove: I finished, I finished in less than an hour and I didn't trip over anything. VICTORY! Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Brian's parents, Bob and Carolyn, left, surprised me and showed up to cheer me on.

      Brian's parents, Bob and Carolyn, left, surprised me and showed up to cheer me on. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • I ran a little, but I mostly walked the course at the DuPage Human Race. Oh, and that's Brian, left, and my trainer, Josh Steckler. My time was 52:57. Not bad for a first try!

      I ran a little, but I mostly walked the course at the DuPage Human Race. Oh, and that's Brian, left, and my trainer, Josh Steckler. My time was 52:57. Not bad for a first try! Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • A great thing about working out with my trainer, Josh? His enthusiasm for fitness, and his confidence that yes, you can do this.

      A great thing about working out with my trainer, Josh? His enthusiasm for fitness, and his confidence that yes, you can do this. Brian Shamie | Staff Photographer

  • I know exactly what Josh was saying to me here: "Are you ready to run across that finish line?"

      I know exactly what Josh was saying to me here: "Are you ready to run across that finish line?" Daniel White | Staff Photographer

YOU GUYS. I DID A 5K. Even a few days afterward, it's still fun to say -- and it's so exciting to tell people.

When I initially found out I'd be participating in the DuPage Human Race with the Fittest Loser contestants, I had only three goals in mind: 1) To finish; 2) To finish in less than an hour; and 3) Not fall.

Logically, I knew I'd finish. I regularly do three miles on the treadmill, and even more than that on walks in my neighborhood. The real issues were how long it would take and the not-falling thing (my clumsiness is legendary).

Early on, those things worried me enough that I tried to think of excuses not to do the race. For example: The event was on a Saturday. On Friday, I had big plans that included an all-day conference for work in Chicago and a band I wanted to see later that night. Getting up early to run would be a struggle! Plus, let's be real for a second. I'm almost 50 and overweight with bad knees and a sometimes-sore hip. I probably shouldn't do this, right?

But my trainer, Push Fitness owner Joshua Steckler, told me not only could I do it, it would be a valuable experience. "I want you to see what it's like to be part of a fitness-minded community," he said.

OK. He made an excellent point. Plus, the run -- hosted by Giving DuPage -- benefits several local charities.

"But it'll take at least an hour, maybe longer," I told him. He just laughed, shook his head and said "No. It won't. And you'll feel such a sense of accomplishment when you're done."

Apparently Josh had a lot more confidence in me than I had in myself, but he's the expert. I was in.

I practiced outside as much as our weird, delayed spring weather permitted. I got tips from friends who are serious runners. I spent approximately a jillion dollars on several pairs of special anti-blister running socks and what I assumed would be a lifetime supply of fabric Band-Aids (the box lasted three weeks). My boyfriend, Brian, signed up to run, too. I was so ready!

EXCEPT THAT I WAS ABSOLUTELY NOT READY.

I woke up late. I was pretty anxious. It was cold outside, and I wasn't sure how much to layer up for it. I somehow managed to leave without my iPod, which meant no music. I stood at the starting line with Josh, who was running with me, absolutely positive I couldn't do this.

But I did do it!

I ran a few short intervals but walked a lot of it. Josh kept me going at a good pace while also reminding me that this was "just a Saturday morning walk, so don't worry." There was a lot of uphill on the course (Both ways! And possibly also bears; who is to say?)

About halfway through, I really wanted to stop. My hip hurt from the inclines. My knees hurt. The cold I'd felt coming on for the past 24 hours made my head feel a little swimmy.

But then I remembered an excellent piece of advice from my friend Brandi, who runs marathons and Ironman triathlons. Among other things, she said having a mantra would help -- a positive phrase I could repeat in my head to keep myself going.

So over and over again, I said to myself "I can do this. I'm strong. Just keep going." And before I knew it, Josh, Brian and I were closing in on the end, where Brian's parents were cheering me on with a big sign.

"Are you ready to run across that finish line?" Josh asked me.

And I did.

I finished in 52:57, which was a much better time than I'd expected. I didn't trip over anything. And Josh was absolutely right: The sense of accomplishment was immediate and immeasurable.

And you know what else? After all my hand-wringing and worrying, I ended up having a lot of fun, too.

So much so that, even before we'd left the parking lot, I was already thinking about trying another.

• Melynda Findlay is a multiplatform copy editor at the Daily Herald, where she's worked for 19 years. She just completed her first 5K!

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