Before I had Wes I went to a great aerobics class four or five days a week. It was a super fun way to keep fit. After Wes came I had to say goodbye to the aerobics class because I couldn’t get through a class with Wes with me, and I had to take him with me.
I decided I’d better find something else to do, so in March I took up running and decided I’d run a 5K this summer.
I took my friend Miss A‘s advice and followed the Couch-to-5K Running Plan. It was great for someone like me who had never run before. It starts you off slow, alternating running 60 seconds with walking 90 seconds for a total of 20 minutes, and as the weeks pass you run for longer intervals. I could totally run for 60 seconds at at time, so I felt encouraged. After about a month I could run for eight minutes at a time, and then ten. About halfway through the program you’re supposed to be able to run for 20 minutes without walking, but I could never do that. I kept running anyway and signed up for the July 4th Freedom Run.
Before Wes, aerobics was “me time.” Now I have to go running with Wes in the jogging stroller, but I was happy to discover that running, even with a companion like him, can still be “me time.” It’s something I do completely for myself and no one else.
I still miss aerobics. Running is not as fun, not even close. But they’re both forms of exercise, and both make me feel good. Aerobics is just a lot more fun during the process. I hope that when Wes is older or when John’s work schedule changes I can return to my favorite aerobics classes.
Anyway, back to running…I worked out 5K routes using Google Earth and tried them out. I found I could go 3.1 miles with only a little walking. Pushing a stroller, it took me about 33-34 minutes (I always had a hard time discerning my exact time because of my analog watch–I’d be squinting at the minute hand, trying to tell which little mark it was on, and usually ended up guessing). I’d always wanted to be able to run the whole 5K without walking, but I decided that even just finishing my first race would be great and that I’d shoot for under 35 minutes because that seemed doable.
Fast forward to race day (today). I got up at 5:30 and John, the baby, and I were out the door by 6:15. Over three thousand people showed up for the Freedom Festival’s 1-mile run, 5K, and 10K. I waited in a mass of tank tops and T-shirts on 800 North until the gun went off at 7 a.m.
John took Wes with him as a spectator, so I got to run sans stroller. It was actually a little fun to run down University and Center Street, which were lined with families waiting for the parade to start later in the morning. I skipped the first water stop at mile 1 because I felt fine. Halfway into mile 2, I wished I had some water, so I think I started to drag a little. But I kept running. Amazingly. I glanced at my new pink digital watch (Timex Ironman Triathlon; I think I might marry it, I love it so much) after mile 1 and 2 and saw I was running about a 9-minute mile. Way better than the 11-minute mile I averaged with Wes in the stroller.
The water stop at the start of the third mile was like manna from heaven and boosted me right up for the final, slightly up-hill stretch. I was still running! I found a niche where people around me were going about the same pace and stayed with them. John and Wes cheered me on from the sidewalk about halfway through the last mile. Near the end I had to slow twice to draw a deep breath, but I had my eye on a girl in a green tank top who was a length or two ahead of me, and after I got my breath I pulled back into place behind her.
It’s funny where your mind goes while you run. I brought no music with me, so I was relying on my thoughts to get me through. During the third mile, when I realized I was still running and actually doing OK, I thought back to the fifth grade when I came in dead-last in the 1-mile run. I heard kids whispering behind my back, wanting to know my time (over 15 minutes). I was the chubby girl who couldn’t keep up with the rest of her gym class. It was humiliating.
Today I finished the race at 29:34. I kept a 5:55 pace per kilometer, which I think is about 9:30 per mile. I placed 39th in my age division for women, 180th overall for women, and 564th overall (out of 3400 runners).
Next weekend is a fund raising 5K in Orem to help bring the Best Buddies program to Utah County. Best Buddies work with kids with intellectual disabilities (like Down syndrome) and help give them important one-on-one friendships. I’m considering running it because I’ll want Wes to have a Best Buddy to hang out with when he’s in school, and this would support that.