In December when I decided that year 30 meant doing some running, I signed up for a 5k in February. It’s a super local 5k benefiting a youth organization and the cost is only $25. I figured I would run it and see how I liked it before I branched out into more “races.” I joined the Couch-5k movement and started in on my path toward becoming a person who runs (which I like better than ‘runner’ because that seems so…set in stone…)
But then, a former (twice) colleague and friend Tabbi signed up for the delicious-sounding Hot Chocolate 5k in March and I figured what the heck, it’s only a few more weeks after my first 5k, I might as well do it. It’s a gigantic 5k, with 10,000 people, and the sign-up process was daunting…I had to pick a time group and the rules state that if you fall below that time then they shuttle you up to be with the rest of your group.
So naturally I signed up for the absolute slowest I could go (15 minute miles) because I KNOW that that is do-able, even with some brisk walking. But my anxiety has kicked in and so of course I check out my good friend Tabbi’s facebook page and see that she ran a 5k in 42 minutes this week. GULP, since I signed up to run with her, I figured we should at least run together once to see how it worked out. I mean, worst case scenario is we high 5 at the finish line.
Boy am I glad that we did a practice run. The weather was AMAZING as we ran around Greenlake today. The sky was blue, the air was chilly but not cold, there was aproximately 7,549 dogs being walked by their owners, and it felt great to be outside, with a goal, and a friend to run together.
But, about 30 seconds into our run, I realized that Tabbi and I have very different styles of running. I am a run slowly for long-distances (at this point, my long-distances are like 10-15 minutes) and her style is run really fast for a minute and then walk….A LOT. I told her that I was cool with her running on ahead, and to not worry about me at all. And so that’s how we rolled. She ran ahead, I ran slowly and consistently and caught up to her when she was in her walking portion. I would then ease on past her and keep going and she would pass me when she was running again. We did this all around the lake, with only one stretch in there of us actually walking together.
I’m glad I gave her the go-ahead, because my biggest head-trip is holding people back on their workout. Which is why I would have so much anxiety in highschool when working out with people. I would push myself past my breaking limit in order to try and not hold them back, rather than listen to my own body. She busted out some Tupac as she ran, and I listened to my breath and thoughts and the pound of my foot on the gravel. I tried not to beat myself up when she got so far ahead that it looked like I’d never catch up.
And then, we got to the end.
She ran it in 38:30 and I ran it in 40.
On one hand it made me feel good that the 45 minute time limit wasn’t going to kill me in the actual race, but on the other hand I was annoyed. Her walking/running strategy was actually faster. Which, I think, flies in the face of that whole “slow and steady wins the race” moral of the Tortoise and the Hare. I mean, she probably ran 1 mile out of the 3, and I probably ran at least 2 or so, but at a much slower pace.
On the way back to the car she told me that she was happy because this was her 3rd run. I was like, “what? you haven’t been running?” And she replied that she signed up for the 5k and knew she had to run it in under 45 and so she ran and busted her ass, but felt sore the next day. And she was complaining about ankle and shin pain. I advised her in a limited way that she might want to train less vigorously, but we’ll see. I know, for me, the goal is to run the whole 5k, even if it’s slower than her, but I couldn’t help but feel like, as far as racing goes, her strategy was better. But probably for a longer period of time it’s not as sustainable?