My First 5K

When I first started running (or attempted to run, rather), I browsed at running magazines, read the stories of obsessions with running races and would quickly put the magazine down….thinking how that didn’t interest me and I didn’t see myself ever officially running a race.  But the more I read, the more I became interested and wondered if that was something I could actually do.  ‘What an accomplishment’, I thought, ‘at my age’…  Not that I’m ancient by any means, but the age group of young people I had been reading about-on blogs and in magazines-are several years younger than me–some alot younger than me.  An accomplishment I thought would mean something to a newbie runner, just running her first race at the ripened, older age of 41.

So there began my search.  My mom (at the sweet age of 62) has run/walked several 5K’s so she was my primary resource.  She directed me to active.com where you can search for pretty much any race, any where.  Coincidentally enough, there was a local race only 10 miles from home.  So, guess what I did?  Signed us up.  :)

I didn’t really get nervous about it then as I signed up way in advance and knew I had a while to go before race day.  So I just continued to do what I had been doing and that was to simply run.  I did continue reading other running blogs and Runner’s World Magazine to learn more technique and to gain advice on running races, especially running a first race.  Looking back on this now, I realize that this was valuable to me in helping me run my first 5K.

As Clark and I ran each week..averaging about 8-9 miles per week, I experienced some easy days, but also harder days.  Becoming frustrated is simply an understatement on how I felt at times….even 3 days before race day I didn’t think I could do it.  The more I huffed and puffed and ended up walking more than running, the more I thought “what in the world am I thinking?” or “there is no way I can do this”.  The more this happened the angrier at myself and at running itself I became.  It seemed I could hit the 2 mile mark and simply give out and have to stop and walk.  I wanted to run a 5K, not walk it.  And that was what I was determined to do.

I had to learn that I would reach a brick wall with each run and would have to break through it.  I learned that so much of this game is mental and I mentally had to win that first….while all the while, hoping my body would follow.  I learned that if I stuck with it and ran through the wall, that it would become easier on the other side.

This is where all the info I had been reading became so useful…I learned how to position myself..physically..to help me breathe, how to carry myself and my posture, how fast or slow to run, and even how to place my feet and how quick my steps needed to be.  This helped me to prepare for the obstacles along the way and how to overcome them.

As far as “training” for my first 5K, I’m not sure if that’s what I should call it.  I mean, it sounds so official-like…whereas I don’t feel official by any means.  I’m just a girl who runs….with her husband….on a dirt road…where the only ‘traffic’ we meet is the tractor in the peanut fields.  I’ve never called myself a runner before and it seems to me that I’m just running a 5K; it’s not like it’s a marathon or anything like that.  But all the same, according to my reading materials, I did try to follow a few simple guidelines including those I mentioned above: breathing, posture, and pacing, etc.  The week of the race I also tapered back the distance I ran so not to fatigue my legs too much just before the big day.  I also only ran 2 days that week with the first run on Monday at 3 miles and the other on Thursday running only 2 miles.  This was also a benefit come race day.

Race Day
Can you say freaking out?!  Hahaha.  If you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, you’ll have read where I said I was as nervous as a cat in a swimming pool!  Again, thoughts flooded my soul, “why did I sign up for this, you idiot!?”.  I mean, seriously, I had never run in front of anybody but Clark….and did I mention only on a dirt road?.?.?

Okay, breathe….I had a plan and I would stick with it.  Race was to begin at 8:30 and we wanted to arrive by 8.  I had picked up my race packet the day before and had driven the course as well.  Yes, can you say loser!?  Hey!  Knowledge is power and I wanted to know every detail of where I would be running.  I had my clothes laid out and my alarm was set for 6:00.  I wanted plenty of time for my morning coffee and breakfast.  I finished breakfast which was my go-to breakfast/lunch/anytime snack of peanut butter toast with sliced apples.  It’s filling and full of protein and carbs.  I also popped a few of these snacking on my last one at 8 (I wanted to be finished with everything at least 30 minutes before starting).

As we took to the starting line, I was already breathing heavy and trying to calm myself down and focus.  Advice I had received and read was don’t start out to fast or you’ll tire quickly and struggle to the endSlow and steady wins the race became my mantra.  I repeated it over and over to myself.  And so we began.

Clark was naturally ahead of me as he runs faster and other than Mom taking up the rear, I was last.  Yes, last.  That was extremely intimidating, but I had to stick with my mantra.  My only goal (other than the obvious desire to finish) was to run the entire race.  As everybody quickly ran out of site, I tried to keep my pace steady and stay focused.  It wasn’t long before I began to pass other runners who were starting to slow down.  I soon began to tune all of that out and just concentrate on my own pace and remember that I was doing this for me and for me only, so what everybody else was doing was really insignificant.

The first mile actually went pretty smoothly.  My pace was steady and I felt good.  I was having fun.  The second mile, I slowed down abit, but tried to keep my pace steady.  I was fearful of tiring too quickly and I seriously wanted to run across that finish line!  By the third mile, the adrenaline kicked in even more and my pace became faster.  I actually became excited!  The race benefited the local ARC and it was very touching for its members to stand on the sidelines to cheer us on!  Again, other than Clark I’d never had anyone cheering for me and I felt like a professional running the Boston:)

My official time was 32:41…slow compared to others, but it was actually a personal best for me.  At home, I had been running my 3 miles anywhere from 34-35, so it was a pleasant surprise to run it that much quicker.  It was also a surprise to learn that I had placed 3rd in my age group of women.  I also wonder if there were only three of us competing in my age group, but nonetheless, I feel pretty good about my finish.

I know this is all pretty silly and sounds like I should have been preparing for and running a marathon, but I suppose to me, in my little neck of the woods dirt road, it was.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tamie August 3, 2012 at 6:36 pm

I post alot on my FB. I post about positive and encouragement and try to lead my grandchildren in this new age of social networking by being a role model. Well last yr I set a goal to run a 5k with my 1o yr old granchildren. That yr sure has went by fast. The date for this 5k is Aug 11th 2012. Yup.. Just days away. Oh man [sigh] So tonight i sit here looking for any clues on the internet as to how I am going to be able to fun this 5k and run across the finish line. :) Thats when I ran across your blog. Thank you! Thank you for sharing your experience and being a leader for me. I can say that after eading your thoughts and emotions, I feel as if Im going to be able to share the exact same experience as you did. Only now I have a heads up THAT I WILL SUCCEED! Thanks again.. Your words mirror all of my feelings and emotions. Again… Thank you!

Reply

2 Samantha August 4, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Yay!!!! I’m so glad you found me and I’m so excited about your first 5K!!! I will definitely remember you on August 11 and will be virtually cheering you on! Just remember to have fun and have a wonderful day with your grandchildren! :) Let me know how you do!

Reply

3 susan August 22, 2012 at 9:44 am

Great article! At 42 I am running (hopefully running all the way….) my first 5k next month. My “training” is on track but I am starting to feel like I won’t be ready. Can I really run that far without a walk worked in?? Thanks for the inspiration!!

Reply

4 Jenny September 18, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Great story. At 41 I am running my first 5k next month. Your story was very inspirational. I hope I can do as well.

Reply

5 Samantha September 26, 2012 at 9:18 am

Hey Jenny! Yay for you and thanks for your kind words! All the best to you! Let me know how you do! :)

Reply

6 Tracy aka Tiny Tank November 17, 2012 at 7:35 pm

My first 5k in 10 years is next week. Although I’ve been running 5 k for the past two months pretty consistently I am doubting myself. My race will be a trail run. My plan take my time. Run the whole thing. Pace myself for attaining that goal. I am someone who has concurred the statistic of maintaining a large weight loss. I keep saying to myself, I can do this.
Your blog has been so helpful. Thank you

Reply

7 Samantha November 18, 2012 at 7:25 am

Hey Tracy! Thank you so much for stopping by and your sweet words about my blog! No worries at all about this 5K! You’ll do great! Slow and steady wins the race every time. :) Once you start running, your body will do what it’s been doing….it will run….it’ll do the job for ya. ;) Best of luck and let me know how you do!

Reply

8 Karin March 1, 2013 at 7:34 am

Loved your story and can relate! Running my first 5K in the morning at (almost) 41. I didn’t feel anything but excited until this morning and now I’m getting nervous and emotional about it (am I going to burst into tears at the finish line??). I will use your mantra and WILL run the whole thing! Finish line, here I come!

Reply

9 Samantha March 2, 2013 at 10:53 am

Hi Karin! I’m so excited for you and please let me hear how you did! WooHoo!!

Reply

10 Karin March 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Hi Samantha! It was amazing!! I came in at 28:34! Can’t wait to do it again in two weeks! :)

Reply

11 Samantha March 3, 2013 at 8:02 pm

WooHoo!! I’m so excited and inspired! Makes me wanna sign up for another race, too! Congratulations!

Reply

12 Maddie December 4, 2013 at 11:04 pm

I am also starting a 5k for the first time along the way. I found your blog while looking for other 5k blogs for inspiration. I appreciate you posting about your experience! Congradualtions on your race! You have a very inspiring blog so far! I can’t wait to read through the rest.
I have also started to create a blog for to help others with their goals as well.
Truly motivational thanks again!
Maddie. http://5kalongtheway.blogspot.com/

Reply

13 Samantha December 5, 2013 at 9:03 am

Hey Maddie!
Thanks for stopping by and I’m so glad you enjoyed My First 5K post! Good luck with your own 5K and your new blog! Come back and visit anytime. :)

Reply

14 Jami December 18, 2013 at 11:21 am

Hi Samantha,

I am just starting to get into running, and was thinking of signing up for a 5K also. But I don’t know how many months out I should look for the first one. Any suggestions as far as how many days a week to train and how many weeks to train before one’s first 5K? Thanks! I just found your blog looking for running blogs for women over 40. I am 45. I used to run years ago, and then life happened… marriage, kids, etc. I used to love it, and am anxious to get back into it. Thanks for any advice you can offer.

Jami

Reply

15 Samantha December 18, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Hi Jami!
Yay for you for wanting to start running again! Trust me I totally understand how life happens, but it’s never too late to begin again….trust me, I know all about that too!! :) My suggestion is to allow yourself 8-12 weeks before your 5K. To secure your commitment, I would sign up asap to give you a goal to work towards. When starting out, it’s more about how much time you spend running, not so much distance. Work in small time increments running and walking (5 minutes) until you can run for 30 minutes without stopping. If you have a smartphone, the Couch to 5K is a great app to use. I hope this helps and best of luck to you!

Reply

16 Hollie March 28, 2014 at 1:35 pm

I’m so glad I came across this post. I am running my very first 5K this coming Sunday….at the age of 35. I am so nervous but very excited all at the same time. This winter has been absolutely horrible to any type of outdoor activity so training outside was near impossible. I trained on my treadmill and got to 4km in 35 minutes – slow and steady =D When the time came to finally get outside, what a rude awakening I had. Outdoor running is brutal compared to running on a bouncy shock absorbing treadmill. I am not near as “trained” as I’d hoped to be – constantly telling myself “why the heck did you sign up for your first race in the winter?”, but today I tell myself “who cares if you have to walk – you are competing in your first 5k race, be proud – this is a huge accomplishment” Looking forward to the Around The Bay in Hamilton, ON – the oldest road race.

Reply

17 Samantha March 29, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Hi Hollie! Yay!! I’m so excited for you to run your first 5K! Don’t stress over it at all and don’t let your mind play those nasty tricks on you telling you that you can’t do it! You’re right, regardless if you walk or run or whatever it will be a huge accomplishment! I felt the same way the very week before my first and thought to myself, there’s no way in heck I can do this. But press on, enjoy it, remember slow and steady wins the race and you’ll do great! Let me know how you do!

Reply

18 Renée May 23, 2014 at 11:47 am

Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I will be running my first 5k tomorrow at the Ottawa Race Weekend! I am so excited. Picking up my race kit yesterday was a huge accomplishmen. I started running on April 1, 2014 and could barely run 2 minutes. This week, I ran 5k in 30:07. I am aiming to run under 30 at tomorrow’s race. I am 44 and was an out-of-shape smoker 19 months ago. I am so proud to have turned my life around by quiting the horible habit and getting into running! I AM A RUNNER! Never thought I make this statement in my lifetime! People like you inspire people like me! By taking the time to post your experience, like you did, you inspire people to believe! Thanks and Cheers!

Reply

19 Samantha May 23, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Hi Renee!
Thank you so much for you sweet and inspirational comment. You have blessed me beyond words and it is you who has inspired me. I’m so excited for you on your accomplishments you have achieved so far and the many more I know you will conquer in the future! All the best to you on running your first 5k in the morning and please let me know how you do!

Reply

20 Kim June 18, 2014 at 8:39 pm

I came across this blog while searching for 5k running blogs. Thank you and I enjoyed everyone’s comments. I am running (substitute run for walk/jog) my first 5k this Sunday at the age of 55. Thanks for your inspiration. I am very slow in running and following Galloway running program. My goal is to finish with a hope that this will be the start of many to come. Is it normal to feel like the first mile is so hard but then it gets better after the half mile mark? I am only at a pace of 2 min run, 1 min walk or 1 min run, 1 min walk. Looking forward to the race.

Reply

21 Samantha June 19, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Hi Kim and all the best to you on your first 5K. You’ll definitely not go wrong by following the Galloway program! Yes, the first mile for me seems to be the hardest, but after that it does get easier for sure. Keep running and let me know how you do!

Reply

22 Kim June 22, 2014 at 10:18 am

I finished my first 5 K this morning and did 41:41. The run, walk, run really helped, and I am looking forward to another race to do.

Reply

23 Samantha June 23, 2014 at 8:18 am

Congratulations Kim! I remember feeling like I could run a marathon after finishing my first 5K! That’s awesome!

Reply

24 Carol June 20, 2014 at 7:15 pm

I am 53 and just signed up for my 1st 5K race, which will be August 16th. I was inspired to run when my son enlisted in the Marine Corps. I figured if he can do something hard, so can I. I have been running for about 6 months and did the walk/run routine until I could run 3 miles. Now I usually running 3 miles, 3 times a week. Do you have any advice about my pace? I am pretty slow, today I did 3.8 miles in 1 hour. In your opinion, what is more important, the pace or the distance covered?

Reply

25 Samantha June 21, 2014 at 9:36 am

Hi Carol! Good for you for signing up to run your first 5K! As far as which is more important…pace or distance…that’s really up to you. I’m a pretty slow runner myself and when I first started it bothered me somewhat as well. But it seemed the faster and even further I tried to push myself, I found myself with knee pain and other achy joints and issues. I think my problem was that I was comparing myself to others and feeling that I wasn’t meeting “the standard”. But again, the problem was **who** actually set that standard—so to me now there is no standard. Does that make sense? Simply run for yourself, run as slow or as fast and any distance you feel comfortable and enjoy your first 5K!

Reply

26 Helen July 18, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Running my first 5k on Sunday. I am 63, but practiced with some 40 something’s, so I feel ok! There usually aren’t too many in my age group,map maybe I can finish third! What a hoot!

Reply

Leave a Comment