Run 10K: A New Challenge

Almost five months after I ran my first organized race and swore I’d never run anything again, I’m back to training.

It started with a tweet from the Bay Bridge that the her new span will Labor Day weekend to people instead of cars. There are plans for a walk, a bike ride and two races, a 10k and a half marathon. I’d been looking at the Run 10k app for a while and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to break it out. I don’t think I’ll ever be a runner, but this will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance. While I could settle for a leisurely stroll across the new bridge span, I thought this would be a great chance to challenge myself and make history at the same time.

Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day, so I knew I had to take advantage of it. One of the hardest parts of training last year was having enough good weather days on days when I had the time to run. The app recommends that if you’ve already completed their Run 5K app that you start on Week Five. Well, I’m no overachiever in this area, so I was quite happy to start with Week One, Day One. I figured the easy pace would give me a confidence boost if nothing else. I was half right.

The first week is 30 seconds of running and four and half minutes of walking. I was barely getting into my stride when the man in my ear would say “Walk now.” As it was a gorgeous day in February, there were plenty of other runners on my trail and it was very difficult to quell my competitive side and let them run past me. By the middle of my playlist, I decided to go ahead and run the entirety of Neil Jackson’s Gonna Have to Change. It got a little run toward the end, but I finally felt like I was getting somewhere.

I finished Day One rather easily, tacking an extra minute of running on at the end, so the cooldown would feel worth it. Another two days of that should be fairly easy to accomplish and I don’t feel the pressure to get the training done in a particular timeframe for fear I’ll lose my progress. There are 29 weeks between now and the opening of the Bridge, so I feel no need to rush through this process. I know I can get there and I know that if I need to repeat a week or lose a week due to travel or illness, I’ll still be ready.

And it wouldn’t be a run if I didn’t make a playlist. This is essentially the same as my last week of Run 5K, with the addition of Neil Jackson and rearranging a few things. It was a bit too long, but I made it work.

Run 5K: The Giant Race

Told you I was going to cry when I crossed the finish line!

I did it! I ran my first 5K in 37:26!

Last Sunday, I got up at 6a and got my race gear on: my favorite Addias socks, my favorite black Gap pants, a black Lucy running top with my new Giants tank top and my hot pink Lululemon headband. My mom pinned my race bib on me (which was actually more difficult than I would have thought) while I ate a banana. We left the house by 6:45a to drive across the City to AT&T Park. There was very little traffic to be had until we got close to the stadium. Turns out we weren’t the only ones who had driven down and there was a long line of cars creeping along King St to turn on 3rd towards the parking lot. Despite my earlier anxiety, we managed to get parked and head back to AT&T Park by 7:20a.

Though it would turn out to be a lovely day, weather-wise, San Francisco in the early morning is rarely a warm and sunny affair. My adrenaline was running high, but I couldn’t stop shaking. My dad went back to the car for my jacket, so I could keep warm before the gun went off. I knew that once I got started running, my body would heat up and I’d start sweating, but I had about half an hour before that would happen. I also realized that I hadn’t loaded my carefully selected playlist onto my iPhone before I left the house, so I’d be scrambling for music to run to.

I fought my way through the crowds to find the 10min – 12min corral. There was an obnoxious women leading warmups with music blasting underneath her shouting. I know that warming up is very important before running, but at 7:30 in the morning (on a Sunday), I have very little patience for cheery people. I stretched out on my own on the sidewalk as there was not enough room in the corral for my time. My parents hung out with me until almost race time, which definitely helped the nerves. All around me, people had real race gear, running gear and shirts from previous races. I definitely felt out of my element, but more than anything, I just wanted to RUN!

Despite the advertised time of 8am, the gun did not go off until 8:10a, which was frustrating for everyone. Of course, they had to introduce all the dignitaries and talk about the charity that people raised money for. And then they had a gospel choir sing the National Anthem because apparently, you can’t do anything sporty without reminding everyone that you’re in America. (I kid, I kid, but seriously?) Finally, they removed the barriers and we were able to move closer to the finish line. The gun rang out at 8:10 and we were off! I crossed the start line at 00:40.

At first, it was really difficult to get moving at all due to the large number of people on the road. I also couldn’t get my Week 8 playlist to play in the order I wanted, but didn’t have the time or angle to deal with it properly. But I persevered and soon, I had room to run with tunes in my ears. Not having paid much attention to the landmarks on this route before, from a distance, I thought that Pier 28 was the Ferry Building (meaning I thought I was doing MUCH better than I actually was). As I got into the zone, I didn’t even notice the Ferry building as I ran passed it. I didn’t grab water at the turnaround as I was more concerned with just not stopping in the crush of people going from the road to the sidewalk.

I really started to feel how far I’d gone and how much there was left to go when I passed the Ferry building on the way back. The runners/walkers still heading to the turn around were cheering and high-fiving those of us on our way back, which definitely helped. However, as I passed Pier 28 and rounded the curve, I saw AT&T Park rising up in the distance as a beacon. My feet hurt, I was thirsty and my right calf was tight, but I knew I’d come too far to quit now.

We split from the road to run down the path behind the stadium and got cheers (and mimosa toasts) from the early brunchers at Town’s End. All of the sudden, AT&T Park was the only thing in my view and I was coming to the back gate. I cannot possibly describe the elation and emotion I felt as I crossed into the stadium and onto the field. I ran hard to the finish line, crying on the inside, even if my body couldn’t produce tears. There were people screaming and cheering in the stands and we all briefly appeared on the jumbotron as we finished. I didn’t really hear anything as I crossed under the time clock, just ecstatic that I actually finished. I ran the whole race without stopping.

I grabbed my finishers medal and a bottle of water, pulling my headphones off and my iPhone out of its holder. I was sweating too much to get my water bottle open as I stood in line to get my chip cut off my shoe. I called my parents to find them and enjoyed my time standing in Left Field. About 75% of the reason I wanted to run this race was to get the chance to touch the field and I loved it. My dad took the coveted photo of me with my medal on the field before we headed out to pick up my t-shirt and Matt Cain bobblehead.

Even with all the training and encouragement of my friends and family (which I appreciate SO, SO much!), I wasn’t completely sure I could really do it. But I’ve got the warning track dirt in my shoes to prove it. I ran all 3.1 miles without stopping with a pace of 12:04. I wasn’t the fastest, but I finished! I didn’t get an overwhelming love of running in my gift bag, but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I did it!

Run 5K: “Workout Completed.”

I’m going to cry when I cross the finish line on Sunday.

That was one of the many thoughts swirling through my brain as I did my last training run today. It’s not entirely shocking, since I’m a crier. I think I cried more when Michael Phelps won his last gold medal than he did. This moment still makes me well up. (Spoiler alert: I did NOT make it through this post without crying.)

But I remember a few months ago when I decided to scroll to the end of the training program in my app and saw that the last day call for me to run 30 minutes without stopping. I laughed when I saw that, knowing how much I was struggling just to run 2-3 minutes at a time. Running a 5K seemed more daunting then than ever before. I’d never really thought about how LONG it would take me to run 3.1 miles. The thought of just running, nothing else, for that long seemed ridiculous.

Week Eight was rough. I did Day One on Friday, feeling pretty good about running for 25 minutes without stopping. Again, I ran further on my trail before turning around than I ever had before and my playlist synced up great. Of course, my socks gave me a couple blisters, so it wasn’t all gravy. I had planned to run Day Two on the actual race course on which I’ll be running on Sunday, but I just didn’t have the motivation to go all the way out there. It was actually hot here in the City and I was not dressed properly for my workout. I had my armband for my phone, which worked great, but I was sweating buckets by the time I finished. My playlist didn’t sync up exactly how I wanted it to and by the time I got to the last song, I was ready to PASS OUT. I was out of gas and thought there was no way I could add another two minutes to that run today.

My body has clearly adapted to San Francisco’s weather because it was a brisk, foggy day when I got home from work, but I set off on my trail anyway. In 40 minutes, I covered 3.3 miles (including 5 minute walking warm up and 5 minute walking cool down). My playlist synced PERFECTLY (see below) and I felt like I hit my stride again. I was tired and a little breathless at the end of my run, but when my phone vibrated to tell me to stop running, I didn’t collapse. I actually had a little bit more in the tank! My calf is a little tight, but I’m hoping that continuing to stretch it out this week will help with that. And yes, I did tear up a little when my running coach’s voice said “Workout completed” for the last time.

Music is an integral part of this process, allowing me to focus on something else, so I don’t start thinking about how much running sucks. I’ll be tweaking this playlist a little before my race, but I really like how this worked. I noticed during Sunday’s run that the songs were getting longer as time went by, which wasn’t helping me get through the workout. I adjusted for today, using mostly 3 minute songs. That gave me a good variety of music (some with inspiration lyrics, some of a good beat, some with both), but no song went on too long. Enjoy!

Run 5K: Week Six & Seven in the books!

I meant to write this post when I finished Week Six, but time got away from me. Now I’m a day away from starting Week Eight, so I really need to post before I’m out of date again.

Yes, you read that right – I have ONE week of training left! Raise your hand if you thought I’d ever make it this far. Yep, me either!

Week Six was rough, trying to fit in my runs during the first week of school, after work. My usual after-work routine involves pajama pants and sitting on the couch, so coming home to change into my work-out gear and go for a run was definitely a big change, especially when work was so crazy. Day Three was the first time I’ve run for 20 minutes without stopping in a very long time, possibly ever.

Week Seven was daunting, sweaty, but ultimately empowering. I snuck in Day One after week last week before I had a busy weekend of NightLife, travel and family. Day Two was a different experience, rising at 7a on Saturday to try to beat the Arizona heat. It was 82 degrees when I started out for my 2.5 mile workout and I was exhausted by the time I finished. The new scenery in my parents neighborhood was fun, but I longed for my familiar path and benchmarks. I finished the week with Day Three on Wednesday after work, braving the 50 degree misty fog weather. However, for the first time in a while, I didn’t feel out of breath. I wasn’t pushing myself, but I didn’t feel like I was barely moving either. I made it to the “Victory Tree” every day, even with the different intervals. I finally felt like I was hitting my stride. My feet didn’t hurt, my nose wasn’t running too much and I had a good stretch in my calves. It was the first time I felt like maybe I could actually run the entire 5K without stopping.

I start Week Eight tomorrow and plan to do a real training run on the race course on Sunday. I don’t plan to get up as early as I’ll have to that day, but hope to at least attempt to run in the morning. I’ll be done with training runs next Tuesday, so I plan to just walk each day to keep the muscles warm without overdoing it. My race packet arrived last week, so this is becoming a reality now. I think I may actually be looking forward it instead just ready for it to be over!

Each day now has a different total running time , so I’ve had to adjust my playlist to suit.
Week Seven, Day Three
Do Your Thang – Basement Jaxx [Warm Up]
Go! (Dave Aude Deep Space Mix) – Jupiter Rising
Don’t Stop Dancing – Matt Morrison
I Like to Move It – Crazy Frog
There’s a Girl – The Ditty Bops
Stronger – Kelly Clarkson
One More – Superchick
Love You Like a Love Song – Selena Gomez and the Scene
Walk On – U2 [Cool Down]

Run 5K: Week Five is a Wrap!

Another week of training has wrapped! Unlike Week Four, I’m not exactly buoyed by this, but I am determined to see it through.

It started out promising. My former boss, current co-worker, A, came over and we went running together, using the Week Five, Day One program. It’s the first time I’ve tried running with someone else during this training program and the first time I’ve run with anyone since college. Turns out, it’s not the greatest idea for me. I’m too competitive to go as slow as I need to complete the run segments without pain. Also, we couldn’t stop chatting about the Olympics (about which you know I have OPINIONS), so that took up energy that I probably didn’t have. I had to stop during the last run segment to catch my breath, which was embarrassing and disheartening, but A took it in stride. We ended the run with a trip to a local cafe and more leisurely catching up session. The run may not have been as successful as I would have liked, but the afternoon was a win for sure!

A few days later, I had better luck with Week Five, Day Two. My playlist synced up perfectly and while I didn’t love the long run segments, but the warm weather and the sunshine definitely helped me endure. I didn’t go as far as I did with A, but I didn’t have to stop either, which I counted as a major win. I was feeling good about my progress when I was felled by an evil cold on Friday that lasted all weekend. In addition to making me a bit of a drama queen, it also put off my training for a week, while I regained the ability to breathe through my nose.

Today, I didn’t have to use a tissues all day, so I knew it was time to finish up Week Five. The weather wasn’t ideal, but if you wait for ideal weather in San Francisco, you’ll be waiting a long time. Today’s program was two long run sections, separated by a 2-minute walk. I managed to make it through both without stopping (again, my playlist was FLAWLESS), but it really put the reality of running a 5K into perspective. At the end of the second run segment (10 mins), I was ready to QUIT. But I know that I’ll be running at least 3 times (and probably more like 4 times) that long when I’m actually running my race. I definitely need to concentrate on my music choice to keep me motivated.

One month till Race Day!

And my awesome playlist: