Commit to Be Fit 5K Race Report: My Second First 5K

Commit to Be Fit Cover.jpg

Event

Commit to Be Fit 5K

Date

June 28, 2013

Location

Downtown Columbus, Ohio

Finish Time and Pace

45 minutes 18 seconds; 14:35 minutes per mile

Why It Matters

This was my first official race since I had a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) just over a year ago. It took me 363 days to run again and 13 months to race again. My second first 5K.

 

I’ve had a lot of firsts when it comes to running – and a lot of firsts I would have never experienced without it in the first place. There as my first 5K, my first half marathon, my mom’s first 5K, my sister’s first half marathon, my first marathon and my first attempt at the Goofy Challenge in Walt Disney World. For all of these first have come many rewards – I gained self-confidence, patience, a new appreciation for myself, health and happiness. I also gained friendships that, while based in running, have pulled me through some of the worst times in the last two years of my life. I’ve learned a lot about myself and others – both positives and negatives.

Through running, I learned that I am stronger than I ever thought I was and even so, it was not until I was gravely injured by a blood clot in my lung last summer that I realized what true strength was. While I survived against the odds – partially in thanks to running and the shape my cardiovascular system was in – the thing that helped save me was also the think I could no longer do no matter how much I wanted to. I was ready to give up. For all running had given me, it hurt too bad to know things would never be as they were.

It took me 363 days to run again since my blood clot. From a distance, I watched people I used to run with continue on in their training and accomplish their goals. People would ask me from time to time “When are you going to run again?” And then later, tell me, “Get out there and try, go for it, you can do it, you did it before.” For me, it was never about that – it was about recovering from something that nearly claimed my life, damaged an eighth of my lung, and left me on oxygen, completely devastated and unsure if I would ever live a normal life again. There were days when I was convinced I wouldn’t make it one more second, hour, or step and days when it didn’t seem so bad. I started training slowly – very slowly, even for me – and with the support of my family and a core group of friends, I started run-walking.

And today, against what truly were all odds, I ran the Commit to Be Fit 5K – my second first 5K.

Honestly, I was dreading this race. I couldn’t sleep the night before, wasn’t hungry and had to force myself to at least hydrate. I’m training for a Quarter Marathon in August, but that seemed so far away – the 5K was not at all far away and I felt not at all ready. I knew in my mind I could cover the distance, but I was also afraid it would be painfully slow. Once change in the humidity or air quality would cripple my still healing lung and put me at a slow walk at best. I was dreading it – more than any half, more than any marathon.

It seems to me there is always more preparation that goes into a 5K than a larger race. I always find myself rushing around to get ready and get to the start line, only to start running and be done before my body even had time to warm up. The morning of the race was no different. Even though I had done everything right – laid out my clothes the night before, got my bib ready and packed my bag – I was running late and suddenly drew a blank of where to park in a town I have lived in all my life (okay, I struggle with directions, but it’s not like I ever raced here before).

Still I met up with my friends and we made it to the start line with about 10 minutes to spare. The field was small – like really small – and I wasn’t feeling any less nervous at the prospect of standing out in a too small crowd. I tried focusing on the perfect weather – 60’s for temps, no humidity, blue skies and plenty of shade. We were off right at 7:00 a.m. and I was feeling pretty good right out of the gate.

I ran that first mile at a 13:26. About 3 minutes faster than any of my training miles and I know I took it too fast out of the start. I felt myself get caught up in the excitement of the race and really pushed it. With such a small field, it was more than easy to do. We were across the finish line in 5.8 seconds and I was off! By the second mile I was definitely winded and having trouble talking when my running partner, Duane, asked me how I was doing. We slowed down considerably so I could catch my breath and re-group. But damn, it felt good to run that close to a 13 again (until the second mile at least).

Miles 2 and 3 were a 15:15 and 15:08 respectively, which is still quicker than I have been running in training. Duane kept me going (not to mention laughing) when I wanted to give up, which was at mile 2 when I realized I couldn’t breathe. He constantly reminded me to think about the fact that I was out there doing it when I almost didn’t have that chance. No matter how slow we went, I knew we would finish, but I was surprised to finish in under an hour. I told myself I didn’t have any expectations and just doing it was enough – that was a hard goal to set for me, but one I am glad I did. My body felt good, a little tired and my breathing is still horrible. I have a long ways to go to be able to build up the cardiovascular endurance I once I had. I am hoping that comes with time and continued healing.

The magnitude of this race didn’t hit home for me until I ran down the finish chute. When the race director saw me he raised his hand to give me a high five and said over the announcer, “Is that Sara?! Sara, if you don’t mind, I’m going to embarrass you a moment and say a year ago at this time you were on oxygen and now look where you are.” I kicked into [my] full speed to finish and burst into tears the moment I crossed the line – promptly forgetting to stop my Garmin as I had planned.

I was immediately surrounded by my training partners – Duane, Judi and Jay. The people who have truly supported me in my recovery and return to running. It was an amazing feeling and I am truly grateful to be able to not only call them training partners, but friends.

Here we are at the finish line:

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

And I couldn’t be happier to have earned a medal:

Race Medal Edited.jpg

I know, in terms of healing and especially in running, I still have a ways to go, but I am confident I will get there. There will be setbacks, I’m sure (as with anything), but this race gave me the confidence I need to keep trying. I hope to have many more second firsts in my future, starting with this one.

Until the next mile marker,

 

Comments

  1. Oh my goodness I WAS so excited to see you out there! You looked so nervous….but I think you were being looked after with the perfect temps!

    I am so PROUD of you and what you accomplished yesterday!
    Shannon recently posted..Giant Eagle Race Recap + Training Updates!My Profile

    • Sara- Words to Run By Blog says

      Shannon! Thank you. I was so nervous and trying not to stand out in a too-small crowd! Oh my gosh yes, the weather was PERFECT. I was worried that severe humidity might call the whole race for me. It was so great to see you and thank you for your support – it means a lot to me. You looked good out there, yourself!! Congratulations!! 😀

  2. COngrats on the race! Way to go <3

  3. Sara I am soooo proud of you girl!!! Congrats!!!!
    Mindy @ Road Runner Girl recently posted..The Weekly Chase #31!My Profile

  4. Beth Frilling says

    Sara,
    Congrats on your 5K! That is fantastic!!!!! You continue to inspire me everytime I read your blog. You are such a remarkable person. I hope someday I get the chance to meet you in person.

    • Sara- Words to Run By Blog says

      Aw Beth, thank you so much. I appreciate what you said and yes, I hope to meet you one day as well! Thanks for always stopping by and reading what I have to say. 😉

      • Beth Frilling says

        Sara,
        Just signed up for the Columbus half? You planning to be there by any chance? Beth

        • Sara- Words to Run By Blog says

          Ah, Beth! I am not sure yet. I know I will not be running, but I could be down there to cheer. I will keep you updated! Are you going to be anywhere else in Columbus?

  5. SO SO SO SO proud of you!! What an amazing accomplishment!!!!

  6. Yes, yes, and yes!!! I am so proud of you. This may be the toughest medal you have earned yet. You did great and I was so happy to be there to see it!!! Love you!

    • Sara- Words to Run By Blog says

      Thanks, Judi! Love you too, as you know and I love training with you! And going to Fairadise with you (even if they do offer cheaper admission every day we decide NOT to go). I think this may be the toughest medal yet, I agree. You know, when I was thinking about it the night before the race- I dare to say I was more nervous about THIS race than even the Goofy. I was nervous about Goofy, but hell, I was in Disney so even if it went wrong – I was in Disney! I remember being nervous, but not scared (maybe I should have been because I had the clot then too, I believe?!). But yes, as you know, my whole perspective on life and running and well, everything changed with that blood clot and I look at certain things so differently now – including racing.

Trackbacks

  1. […] including pushing myself past my comfort zone became part of my life. I trained for and ran my second first 5K, which was more difficult than I ever imagined. Still, I did it and while running will never be the […]

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