Personal Records Have to Start Somewhere

I RAN MY FIRST 5K RACE ON SATURDAY. There’s actually a lot more to this story than completing a race, but just like my PRs, I have to start somewhere. I came to the race expecting to run most of it and walk about 3 or 4 minutes in the middle, and left with a very different result that amazed me.

I decided at the end of March that I wanted to try running. I had been walking several miles a day after lunch, at least a few days a week, and I knew that pretty soon I was going to need to move to more effective exercise. I started with the Running Mate 5K 101 podcast series, and moved through that steadily until I came down with strep in mid-April. That knocked me out for 2 weeks, after which I backed up my running just a little bit and took the next week to get back to where I was. Last week was just solidifying that, which was a 5 minute warmup walk, followed by 2 repetitions of 12 minutes running and 3 minutes walking, and then a 5 minute cooldown walk. Not too bad for someone who couldn’t run for a minute straight prior to March. I figured this is how I would run Carter’s Run 5K yesterday as well, which should give me a finish time somewhere between 35 and 40 minutes.

I got to the race nice and early and met up with my friend Loudoun Dirty and the rest of the NOVA Roller Derby crew that were there sponsoring the event. This 5K is a smaller run (there were only 202 running finishers), which was really nice for my first. Everyone was just hanging around, talking to the sponsors who were setting up, and getting ready to go. Eventually, Garrett got there as well and it was time to start getting ready. Stretches, the national anthem, and then we were off!

I quickly got a little personal space around me and started to get myself into a groove. I had to keep checking my Garmin to get my cadence and pace in line with what I knew they needed to be for me to last the whole run, but once I was about 6 or 7 minutes into the race I felt like I had it down. My plan was to keep running until I felt like I was at my limit, and then shift to walking for 3 minutes. I figured that would be around 15 minutes based on my comfort with the 12 minute intervals, but something unexpected happened.

I hit the one mile mark and felt pretty good. Then I got to the water stop about halfway in and I still felt good. I walked for about 10 or 15 seconds to drink, and got right back into it. I hit the 2 mile mark and it seemed like I had underestimated what I was able to handle as far as running goes. I was pleasantly surprised that my heart rate was steady (if at the high end of my range – I was able to continue at that rate) and while my breathing was heavy from exertion, it wasn’t hurting me and it wasn’t getting worse. I rounded the corner onto the street that the start/finish line was on, at about the 2.75 mile point and I realized that I was actually going to run the entire race!

Just before I got to the final curve before the finish line, my heart rate hit a point where I knew I was at my max. I also knew I was going to push as soon as I saw the finish line, and I didn’t want to fall across it. I slowed to a walk for another 15 or 20 seconds, let my heart rate drop about 10 bpm, and picked up the run again. The finish line came into sight, I poured on what little speed I had left, and crossed it with a chip time of 31:30. Talk about a high! I knew that I had come in with a time that far exceeded my expectations, and I ran the entire race, which I never would have thought possible!

Now, my Garmin says that I ran 3.3 miles at a 9:37 pace. That’s probably a combination of the GPS being off a little, and me taking corners wide. Either way, I know there’s room for improvement already. I’m already registered for the Ashburn Twilight Four Miler in 3 weeks. I’m also probably going to sign up for the Run With Dad 5K the week after that. I expect to have a lot of fun with those.

One thing I can say, though, is that I’ve completed the 5K 101 training program. So I’m moving on to a 10K training schedule. I’ve registered for the Run for Independence 8K at the end of June, as well as the Leesburg 10K in mid-August. And the ultimate goal is to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon at the end of February. From there, we’ll just have to see how it goes!

Hopefully, I’ll add more posts soon about the running, as well as my fitness work in general. Of course, as you can see from previous posts it can be few and far between when I get busy.

Todd Palino


I'm a dad, a small business owner, a systems engineer, a developer, and any number of other things.

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