My First 15k
February 8, 2020
I’ve never actually been much of a long distance runner. I was very active in dance for most of my life and on the side I enjoyed pilates, HIIT workouts, resistance training, bodyweight exercises, and things like that so when I did occasional 5k’s throughout the years, my overall fitness and cardiovascular health carried me through them pretty easily. Beyond that, I haven’t had much time or interest in pursuing longer distances. But, once I switched majors and my dancing pretty much came to a halt, I wanted to find another way to sustain my leg strength, core strength, and cardiovascular health and challenge my body along with my normal resistance-style training. So, I dabbled in running slightly longer distances on a more regular basis to see what it was like. It’s definitely been a challenge for me and I’ve had to deal with some hip pain due to the fact that dance, specifically ballet, is often rotated out and running is parallel. Last year, I ran my longest mileage thus far which was 6 miles and actually was still my longest up until the day of the 15k (9.3 miles). I’m still not fully used to training and pushing past the mental barriers in running but the sense of accomplishment after a race makes me keep wanting to do more. Now that I’ve done this 15k, I want to go for a half and this time…actually consistently train!
Okay so I’m going to be honest here…I decided to do this 15k last Fall and I had this big plan to train for months in advance and be uber prepared which totally would have worked great if it didn’t fall over the holidays… I sort of underestimated how unmotivated I would be to run long distances during Thanksgiving and Christmas. And then once the Spring semester started, I was wrapped up in classes and work and before I knew it, the race week appeared out of nowhere! So I wasn’t as prepared as I would have liked to be but I knew I couldn’t go back so I tried to just relax and do what I could.
DAYS LEADING UP
On Thursday, I had felt really worn down and just not myself which I found out the next day was because I was getting sick. Friday morning, I woke up and felt terrible. I had a headache, congestion, and was just overall so tired. I was super worried that it would continue to get worse and Saturday would be it’s peak but thank goodness, I actually felt quite a bit better on Saturday than I had Friday (praise the Lord!).
5:15 actually get out of bed :)
5:15-6 wash face & moisturize, make bed, get dressed, put hair up, grab race stuff, water, and breakfast
6-6:35 drive to race location and eat breakfast on the way
[Breakfast]: overnight oats with oats, protein powder, peanut butter, blueberries, and almond milk
6:35-7:30 wait in line for parking! yikes
7:30-8:15 walk to race and stretch/warm up
8:15 RACE TIME
[what I packed for the race (“race stuff”): runner’s fanny pack, inhaler, headphones, 3 dates, athletic sweatshirt, water bottle for on the way]
The weather was beautiful for this race! It was 50’s/60’s and sunny. They had us separated into heats which helped with crowding at the start line.
The first 2.5 ish miles I ran straight but I knew my pace was too fast for me to sustain. I kept MapMyRun open on my phone so I could keep track of my distance, time, and pace and I was running those first few at a 7-7 1/2 minute mile pace. I took a short break after those first few which gave me a chance to take off my sweatshirt and tie it around my waist.
After that, up until about mile 5, I didn’t feel the greatest about my running and I had to walk for a few seconds here and there. I mainly struggled with my upper body and figuring out my breathing.
Once mile 5 hit though, there was a major shift! My body had gotten used to the rhythm of the running and the discomfort moved from upper body down to lower body which was actually a good thing because it’s much easier for me to push through. I barely stopped at all after mile 5 and I felt myself ease into a zone.
Towards the last mile there was a huge hill which was most definitely poor planning on their part but anyways, I just kept pushing.
By the end, my feet and hips were dying but just knowing that I was near the finish line made my legs keep trekkin’ on!! Approaching the finish line is always the freaking best feeling especially because you know there’s walking, sitting, and water on the other side! At the end, there was people cheering, clapping, giving high fives, and saying “good job” which had me smiling and crossing with a sprint. I love seeing people supporting and cheering each other on. Everyone had their own little triumph moment, everyone worked hard for the race, and everyone looked forward to crossing that finish line so it was so encouraging to see each person accomplish that.
Throughout the race, they had stations with water, electrolytes, lemonade, and candy. Because it was the Hot Chocolate Run, they offered marshmallows, Swedish fish, m&ms, and other chocolate but I know for a fact that if I would have eaten candy during that race… it would have come right back up, no doubt. I don’t do well with eating while running but the water and electrolytes seemed to help quite a bit! It gave my muscles a little boost of energy to keep going.
My end time was 1:25:17 which is about an average 9-minute mile pace.
I was really happy about my time because I was shooting for 8.5-9 minute pace throughout and I pushed myself during the race to follow through with that. But most of all, I was just happy to cross the finish line. Even though I hadn’t trained as hard I wanted to, I still took a lot of time to plan out and run those training miles and do my best to prepare so it felt good to finish something I had worked for and looked forward to. I was also so proud because it was the longest I had ever run and there were times when I thought I was going to have to walk for an entire mile (or the rest of the race) but my body kept going which just shows how amazing the human body is and how intricately and beautifully it’s designed. I’m incredibly thankful that I’m capable of doing this especially since I know some people aren’t so I think that’s more than enough reason to go for another one. Half marathon here I come…!!
After the race, they had snacks and music and places to take a picture with your time. I walked around for a while to cool down and then did a stretch. I went back and cheered for the friends I had gone with and then got to hang out with them for a bit too which was awesome. Once I got home, it was definitely time for lunch and a shower so I made two pieces of avocado, tomato, and egg toast and then hopped into a nice warm shower! A shower has never felt so good. After my shower, I put on a charcoal mask and got into some comfy clothes which felt more than amazing. Then, instead of collapsing onto the bed like I wanted to do…I had to check back in with reality and get some school and work done but honestly, I was happy to do it because having that much sunshine time gave me a burst of energy and fresh thoughts.
In the afternoon, I enjoyed a smoothie…
…and then went to the grocery which worked out great because I was able to get some walking in which helped stretch my legs out, keep the blood flowing, and help with fluid drainage.
Overall, my first 15k was the bomb dot com and I’m so happy I was able to do it! Having some time outdoors and away from school, work, and other responsibilities was refreshing and I think it was more needed than I thought. It’s really easy to overwork yourself without even realizing it until you have some time away. Stepping away from our busy lives is so important and I want too encourage you to find something that will allow you to step away sometimes too! Busyness is a huge trend right now and it is often seen as the only path to success and validation. I’m not here to be a hypocrite and tell you not to be busy, as I’m running myself all around. I think, to a certain degree, busyness is a natural part of most people’s lives but how are we handling it and are we making time for what’s truly important to us and saying no to things that intrude on those priorities. I think it’s good to be aware of just how full we’re packing our schedules and why we’re doing so. Is it out of necessity or choice? Is it for personal reasons or for show? Don’t stress your body and mind out for the sake of others’ opinions of you. Let your body rest when it needs it. Allow for some creative time and some physical activity time and some enjoyment. For me, this race was a wonderful source of release. A chance to step away from the stressors and constant demands of my schedule and do something fun with little expected from me. Since I’m being honest and open, I’m generally a pretty uptight person and with that comes perfectionism and with that comes constant, active thoughts and with that comes a tightly wound up Tiff! And I know many of you feel the same way I do and struggle with similar obstacles. I hope I can encourage you to find a way to set aside the (seemingly) never ending flow of thoughts and plans and specific order of things to enjoy yourself and find some release!
Wishing you all the best!
[If you’re an avid runner, I’d love to pick your brain about training along with other aspects. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment in the section below!]