Running was going well. I had stuck to the C25K program and was on schedule to complete the last day of the program the day of the 5K race. However, the weather was heating up and I was having a tougher time of it. I experimented with running without music, which seemed to help a lot. I tried running indoors at a gym on the treadmill, which was far more difficult than outside. I was bored and just as hot.
But I was improving. Each day I ran a little further. Each day I was proud of myself for running 20 or 25 or 30 minutes when less than two months earlier I couldn’t run for 5.
My friend and riding partner decided to do the 5K as well. Her friend, a runner, decided the night before the race to join us. The race took place in the evening on the same day as the last day of school, so my co-worker (another teacher) and I were excited to kick off the summer with something so healthy and (hopefully) fun. We both live in Brooklyn so we rode the subway together (almost an hour) to the 103rd st entrance of Riverside Park on the Upper West Side and met the other two women at the start. It was a beautiful setting – very shady and right along the Hudson river. But it was hot and very humid.
I had been warned many times not to start too fast so I slowed my pace as much as I could. The race was hilly and the first hill was very steep, but I held steady – at the very back of the pack. My goal was to finish in 35 minutes. With about .5 miles to go, I caught up to another runner and passed her. She sped up but I held my ground. My co-worker and running friend finished ahead of me and cheered me on about 200 yards from the finish, encouraging me to pick my speed up as fast as I could. I finished strong. I felt great. Not only had I completed my first 5k race, I had run my first 5k distance! And, while I was in the back of the pack, I wasn’t last. In fact, I finished in the middle of my age group.
After the race, the four of us celebrated with dinner and beers at a an outdoor cafe next to the finish, overlooking the Hudson. It was a great first day of summer! I felt inspired to do more 5k races and even start training for a 10k.