So I’ve completed two virtual 5Ks and really enjoyed them. I felt relaxed, was in the moment and bursting with pride when I finished. I know some people don’t see virtual 5Ks as ‘real 5ks’, or just paying for a medal – but I took them seriously. I didn’t even HOLD the medals until I was done and my time was submitted.

I thought it was time to run my first in person 5K and thankfully our local volunteer fire station was holding their annual 5/10K. I will be honest – I didn’t do much by way of training. I did a few runs in the weeks leading up, but I knew I was doing it for fun – not to win or PR.

So this past weekend when S. dropped me off at the starting line early – I wanted to barf. Everyone looked so … runner. Running groups showed up, everyone had a friend (or so it seemed) and I was instantly transported back to middle school. No one was mean, but they had their people and routine and I did not. It was like they had this language I didn’t speak at all. Granted,  I didn’t really WANT to run with anyone else – I am very slow, and typically mix in walking when necessary. I figured others would do the same.

I got towards the back of pack and we were off! Well. Everyone else was off. I was doing a pretty fast walk, but double strollers were passing me. A three legged dog passed me. I am not making that up. A three legged dog. The 5K course was a complete circle and the 10K weaved in and out of the 5K course on side streets. So even when I was dead last, there was always a few of the 10Kers behind me. Most of the time.

I pretty much spent the first hour of the run fighting my inner mean girl. She was out in full force and loud. I couldn’t even hear my music. It was to the point where I even considered calling S. to just come pick me up on the corner. I really wanted to stop and cry – I was overwhelmed and embarrassed. What made me think I could do this? I thought a group would motivate me to push myself, but it had the opposite effect on me.

Basically by mile two I was chanting ‘just f*cking finish‘ in my head. I might have said it out loud. By mile 3, I was feeling a little better emotionally, but I realized I should have Ape taped my ankle, but I was just going to ‘f*cking finish’.

The finish line was ahead and I saw Mike and S. and my MIL there waiting for me. And I kept going. M. had to see his momma finish what she started right? Even when she wasn’t in her comfort zone, even when her body hurt, even when she was mad at herself and exhausted from fighting her inner mean girl. He had to see his momma finish. And he did.

After 1 hour and 7 minutes his momma just f*cking finished.


41 comments on “My First ‘Real’ 5K”

  1. AWESOME! Kudos to you and for sharing. I felt the exact same way a couple of months ago. I kept chanting “Just finish and don’t be last!”. LOL I was 3rd from last but won another medal for coming in 2nd in my age class. It helps being old and the fact there were only two of us. Ha ha! I’ve made great strides in two months so the next “in person” race will be much better. You go girl.

  2. CONGRATULATIONS on finishing! I felt the same on my first 5k, but you know what? I f*ing finished, too! (Also alone, by the way). I took my first 5k time as my baseline time/pace. I use that baseline for every run I do, whether it’s a race or not. I just did my first virtual 5k, and my time was awful (lots of hills, which I’m not used to). You only compete with yourself, anyway, right?

  3. I follow Not your average runner on FB, and followed the link here from her page. Congratulations on finishing. Don’t get discouraged with doing in person races. I don’t run yet, but I have walked several 5k’s. I have been in your shoes on race day but I have my husband do the races with me so I don’t finish alone. Next time sign up for a color run or some other fun run. I live about 45-50 minutes from Chicago so all of the races I have done have been there where there are thousands of runners/walkers at each race, so there is always people in front and behind me. I decided to do a local race on a whim last month and I told my husband to go ahead of me because I had shin splints within the first quarter of a mile and knew he wanted to run rather than walk, I was alone for most of the second and third mile and my husband had my phone (music) it was boring and lonely but I enjoy doing 5ks.

    My suggestion is to see if the Biggest Loser is doing a 5k near you next year, they put on a great race and everyone gets a medal or do a color run.

  4. Congratulations! It’s a huge accomplishment. I remember my first 5k. I wanted to cry cause I was so proud if myself.That was in 2008. I have since done more 5k’s than I can count, a 10k and 3 half marathons. I am currently training for my first full marathon. I’m terrified. I’m slow. And I definitely don’t look like your typical runner at 5’2″ and 175lbs. I use the Galloway method. It’s intervals of walking and running. You should try it. It’s fantastic! Jeff Galloway is a former Olympian, he created this method.

    Congratulations again. Keep up the hard work. I promise nobody is judging you and it does get easier!

  5. Congratulations!!
    I’m always at the end of the pack and no one I know runs, so I do it alone. I do it for myself and not for time… and also to set a good example for my kids-healthy lifestyle, work towards a goal, and finish what you started.

    You should be very proud of yourself!
    I bet you had many admirers in the other runners!

  6. Hi
    You are me and I am you. My last 5k I finished dead last and they were even holding up the kids race for me. I was really embarrassed at first but then something switched and I says F it!! I finished and that’s all that matters.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  7. I think you’d be surprised how many people fight off that voice of doubt in their heads. I have had races where I have cried and wanted to just give up as well. I’ve even been passed by somebody in the 75 age group!! What matters is you didn’t give up, you finished, and next time around you’ll be a little faster, and the time after that you’ll be even a little faster. Then you’ll be full on addicted to trying to get another personal record. Great job on your race!!

  8. Clicked over from SPA FB group…I have to say, BE PROUD!!
    You finished. You committed to running a 5k, and you did it. That’s a huge accomplishment!
    Even though I may appear to be fit (I’m actually lazy at heart) and have a history of being athletic (former gymnast) my first “run” was a 2k fun run at age 28 or 29. I felt stupid. I was alone and even though I completed it pretty fast (for me), I was huffing and puffing at the end. Be proud of yourself!

  9. Clicked over from the SPA FB group. You should definitely be so proud of yourself for finishing your first 5K. It’s something so many people will never do. Not many of us start out as natural runners. For being a decent runner now, I was terrible in high school for the most part. I think I came in last in a couple races. But getting out there and pushing yourself is the first step. Nothing good ever comes out of staying inside our comfort zones. It might hurt, it might not be pretty, but you are stronger than you think and you are being such an amazing role model for your son. Keep running, girlie!

  10. Congrats for being an awesome finisher! You rocked it! I have done numerous 5k’s (and I’m slow as a turtle slogging through peanut butter) and I remember doing one at one point and my husband (no ex….but not for this comment…other extenuating circumstances) looked at me when I crossed the finish line and said “I started to wonder when the old people started to cross the line but I was downright worried when the wheelchair finished before you.” So the three legged dog thing made me laugh! Your not alone! Been there, done that!

  11. I want to hug you so hard!!! I don’t think you realize that you just voiced what thousands of people feel when it comes to running. I’m coaching someone much like you who I would have called a runner months ago but the fear of being around all those others and calling herself a runner was the obstacle.
    WAY TO GO!! you are inspiring people you don’t even know!

    • Please make sure she knows she is certainly NOT alone! We all have a little bit of an impostor syndrome. If I can do it, she can too.

  12. Great job!!! I ran my first 5k about 8 years ago. My goal was to finish vertically not horizontally. I’m still at it. I’m currently training for my first half marathon. I’m slow, but that’s ok. It’s my goal. There are days I question what the heck I’m doing, but I plug on. You are an inspiration to so many! Keep it up!

  13. Congrats on your 5k finish! I felt pretty similar running my half this past Sat. I just wanted to “f’n finish” lol! What a motivation you are girl!

  14. Super proud of you lady! And every bit of this post resounded with me. I remember when I did my first 10k (some reason skipped the 5k) and almost all the same things happened to me. I almost quit a million times, I cried on the down low, I cursed everyone who passed me that I felt shouldn’t be (in my head) and resolved to murder my husband when he jogged back 3 miles to urge me along “faster”. AFterwards, I was like, “do not touch me” and could not understand how everyone around me was so happy and overjoyed. I just wanted to puke. Fast forward an hour and I felt pretty good. And I am glad I did it. But man it sucked. Ha!

  15. You go girl! It makes you feel really good doesn’t it? I don’t care what anybody says virtual races are races too, you get out there and your participating. I did my first half marathon a little.over a month ago, I didn’t do any training either. I thought I was going to pass out and the meds come get me, but 3 hours in I finished. I’m doing a virtual run Nov 11th, if your interested in it too. If so, email me & I’ll send ya the link. Keep rocking!

    • A 3 hour half marathon sounds awesome! I feel like it would take a me a day or two 🙂 Send a link, I would love to see what kind of races are out there.

  16. First: Congratulations! What you did is a big deal. Good job. Really.
    Second: I totally get what you are saying about feeling out of place at races. I love races, but it took me a really long time to get over that start-line insecurity. You’re a runner, you belong there, keep going.
    Third: I lost it completely about the tree-legged dog. Laugh or cry, right? You rock. Keep laughing.

    • That’s so true! Laugh or cry. I pretty much did the middle option – I rolled my eyes to the heavens and said ‘really? REALLY?’ … the further away I get from the race experience the more I can laugh about it.

  17. Congrats! I fight that inner voice all. the. time and I’m training for a marathon. You’ll only get more comfortable and faster with practice. I like to say, at least I got up off the couch and got out there! Definitely not something many can say.

  18. Congratulations on your first in-person race! The running community – like any other community – can be intimidating when you’re new to it, so you should be proud of yourself not only for your run but for showing up.

    And you *should* be proud of your run – not in spite of the fact that there were a lot of people faster than you, but because there were a lot of people faster than you. In a world focused on winning and achieving, it takes courage to continue to do something even when you aren’t good at it. For some people, running a 5k or a 10k isn’t much of an achievement at all – it’s easy for them. For other people, even walking a mile is a real accomplishment. Unless you’re setting actual records, the measure of what you achieve is in how hard you worked and how far you pushed yourself – not in some number on a stopwatch.

  19. You write beautifully and while I felt your pain and could sense your inner voice, I was left chuckling as it transported me back to my college days. I ran track only because my friends were running. Small college so they accepted almost all volunteers. Well I was no runner and they signed me up to do the 1500 (7 laps). I was running last..and here was the beauty, a friend slowed down to pace me (mind you this was a race) and then all the colleges were cheering. When I reached the finish line I raised my hands up like I was the winner. But I felt I won…won so much was beautiful and hope that is what you take away too!

  20. I have been at the back of the pack. And I would still be there but for the encouragement I received from a student, a women’s sports’ team, and random runners along the way. You will get stronger and you will run longer…just get to those points by believing in yourself and taking the energy from your supporters. You ROCK! Keep running! I believe in you!

  21. Jackie. You most certainly should be proud of yourself. How brave to do the very first “race at your pace” on your own! I started with a charity group because I knew if I paid money it would hold me accountable. The next “race at my pace” was a 5K in St Michaels all by myself and it was hard; so much easier to travel with a pack. I love running 2 to 1 (faster for 2 minutes and brisk walk for 1 minute) with my Unleashed group at Talbot Humane. Patty Crankshaw Quimby is the best pacer out there and I would not even be considering my 5th and upcoming one without her and the “pack”. Keep on trucking baby! It’s a great habit both mentally and physically!

  22. Fantastic job!!!! You finished your first 5k! You are AMAZING!!!!! I remember my first 5k. or what I thought was my first 5k. (turned out it was a 4 miler. You should really read the fine print!) I went because my friend talked me into it. He was a great cheerleader and kept me motivated the whole way (even though he finished 20 something minutes ahead of me). Runners I didn’t know cheered for me along the course. I made another running friend that day. Runners (for the most part) are a fantastic group of people. I am glad you are one of us!

  23. Hi Jackie. Congratulations on becoming a runner! I’ve been at it for more than 30 years, have done several marathons and many other road races and I still have to tell myself to “Just f*n finish”. Every. Single. Time. It gets easier and tons more fun.
    All the best for your continued running success.

  24. Good for you! I started running again a little over a year ago after a thirty year break. My first 5k was so humbling. Took me over an hour. I had the same experience in that strollers, dog walkers and toddlers were flying past me. Now, a year later, I run most of my races and I have completed my first half marathon and a triathalon! persistence pays off!

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