It’s difficult to believe that I’ve been running for a whole year now. I’ve had some obstacles that have slowed me down a bit, but I always got through them and kept going. A quest for weight loss lead me to running. That weight loss journey along with my renewed appreciation for fitness have kept me running, and I’ve really enjoyed it. My husband, Ryan, has only been running regularly for a couple of months. And although I’ve got a good 10 months of preparation on him, he agreed to run our first 5K together last weekend. I love Houston and we both love the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, so it made perfect sense that the Houston Rodeo Run would be our first race. I’m not quite sure how other folks prepare for their first 5K, but most of my training was organic. For the past year I have been running to burn calories, not necessarily to prepare for a race. Hell, it was only mere weeks ago that I ran 2 miles without taking a walk break for the first time ever. In recent weeks I began to push harder and harder. I ran longer and longer until I finally ran 3.1 miles without stopping. Most of my running happens on a treadmill. That just happens to fit my situation and schedule best (I have my 1-year-old son with me almost all the time, and there is a NordicTrack sitting in my bedroom – convenient). Last month I started running outdoors once per week when my son is at his grandparents’ house. I knew I needed to have at least some experience running outside. I also began running at a 1 incline on the treadmill to prep for what would most likely be more difficult runs outdoors. I remember the first time I ran outside. There was a damn wind advisory that morning. Of course the wind was bad on my FIRST OUTSIDE RUN EVER (ok, I ran outside as a kid in gym class, but that doesn’t count). The following outdoor runs weren’t quite as bad. Don’t get me wrong. They weren’t easy. But I got better. When the day of the race arrived, I had decided to run alongside my husband, even if that meant I wasn’t going as fast as I could. I really wanted to run that race with him so that we could really experience it together. Plus, they weren’t keeping official times on the 5K runners, so I felt it was a good trial run (pun intended). It was a cool morning. The sun was out. It was beautiful. There we were in the middle of a sea of 15,000 runners. Because we were race virgins, we didn’t really know what to expect. And for some reason I guess I never really thought about how congested things would be with that many people running at once on narrow city streets. It was rather crowded, but on the other hand it was a really neat feeling to be moving along with all those folks as if we were some sort of cattle being herded this way and that, weaving through the skyscrapers of downtown Houston. There were folks cheering us on. There was music. There was a live band. It was really, really cool. I actually felt like all the action was a perfect distraction from the task at hand. The entire race seemed pretty easy to me. It was enjoyable. Ryan struggled a bit toward the end, but he was a trooper. He only slowed down to grab some water. Otherwise he kept on truckin’ like the tough guy he is. 🙂 I’m not so sure how he felt about my ongoing cheerleader-esque attitude. “You can do this, babe!” “We’re getting close!” “You’re doing great, babe!” But, hey. I was just trying to be positive. After we crossed the finish line, we were greeted with a long row of tents, each serving a different treat. There were bagels, sodas, waters, sports drinks, energy drinks, candy, ice cream and even non-alcoholic beer. I had a regular Coke from the can. Gosh, that was good. I hadn’t had one of those in quite some time. We grabbed our fair share of goodies before we headed out.
Overall I really enjoyed my first 5K. The perfect weather certainly didn’t hurt anything. And the fact that Ryan and I did it side-by-side made it special. I’ve already signed up for my 2nd race that takes place in 9 days. Also, we decided that at next year’s Rodeo Run we’ll be running the 10K instead of the 5K. I don’t know about half-marathons and marathons yet. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I think that 5Ks and 10Ks will keep me busy and happy for quite a while. And they’ll also allow me to keep eating cake. Because one simply must have cake.