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Celebrate Small Victories

Another Week. Another Race. This makes my third 5K this summer, in case you are counting. You see, when I first embarked on this 5K journey, I was doing it to mark something off my Life List. In case you don't know what a Life List is, it's the same thing as a Bucket List. Instead of focusing on things to do before you die, however, it focuses on things to do to enrich your life. My life. Thus, it's my Life List. Anyone who knows me knows I can't just do something just to do it. I once had a friend tell me, "You can't be good at everything." My response was, "Yes, I can." Of course, I may not be good at everything, but I can try my best at it. That's what running the 5Ks is all about to me. Trying my best and pushing myself to see how much I can improve myself to reach my goal.

Yes, I set a goal for myself for the 5K time that I have not reached yet.  I have this timestamp in my head that I want to see when I cross the finish line. Until I see that time, I am going to keep running the races. Once I reach that time, I will be able to move onto the next goal. I realized at the last race that if I want to reach the goal that I have set for myself, I am going to have to run. Yes, I said that three-letter word...RUN.

As a middle-aged, formerly out of shape (I can't completely claim to be out of shape anymore), running re-beginner (I used to have to run for soccer), the idea of running an entire 5K seemed insurmountable to me. I decided to break it down into steps to see if I could do it.

Photo by Jeanette R. Harrison

The first thing that I decided to do was I needed to get my body used to running a 5K all at once. I couldn't continue doing the walk-run intervals that I had been doing the past two races. So, this past week, I ran in the mornings. It was super hot. It's July in the Midwest, after all - the dog days of summer. I then chose to jog at increasingly longer time periods. The first day of my training, I jogged 15 minutes straight. I thought to myself, "Great. Now, I know I can jog roughly a 15 minutes mile in 100 degrees heat." The next day I added three more minutes to my jogging time. Each day, I incrementally added 3 minutes to my jogging time, until by the end of the week I was jogging 21 minutes straight.

During the week, I told myself that it was about endurance not about speed. I was training my body to get used to running for several minutes at a time without stopping. On the race day, today, I set my watch for 24 minutes straight, hoping to complete the first 2 miles in 24 minutes. Just so you know, that did not happen. I have to admit I wasn't feeling it really this morning. There was a thunderstorm in our area last night, and it was still raining lightly during the race. I was more interested in finishing, having a half-way decent time, and not slipping in a water puddle or mud and getting injured. Needless, to say, I didn't reach my overall goal for my race time this week.

However, I did accomplish two smaller goals. Those were both victories worth celebrating. First, I jogged the first two miles without stopping. I was so happy with myself. Moreover, I completed those 2 miles in 27 minutes (unofficially). Second, that meant if I was able to jog the whole race, that I would average about 13:30 per mile. I would be able to knock 1:30 off each mile from my last race if I was able to jog the whole 5K. Even though I didn't reach my overall goal this week, I still had accomplished something. And, since it was National Ice Cream Day, I gave myself a sweet treat when I was finished.