Monday, November 7, 2011

Guest blog post: Laura's first 5k race

About a year ago, I started reading my friend Laura's blog - How to climb a volcano (and other fitness exploits). Over the course of several months, Laura documented her training for a hike to climb up a volcano in Costa Rica to raise money for diabetes.

I really liked Laura's blog, because not only were the entries well written, they were humorous and gave real insight into the highs and lows of such a training program (which included having to raise the funds to get herself there). In fact, Laura's blog partly inspired me to launch Halifax Runner Girl and start documenting my own training program for a marathon, and the blog expanded to what it is today - part journal, part advice column, part product review and also a chance for me to profile other runners.

In the meantime, Laura raised the funds, climbed the volcano and then took on a new challenge - training for her first ever 5k road race at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon while I was training for my races. A few weeks ago, she successfully completed that challenge, and I asked her to write a guest blog about her experience. I loved her entry, and I think you will too!
Without further ado, I give you Laura's guest blog post:

My foray into running and my first 5K race

I ran my first 5K race on October 16th. Some of you veteran runners are probably thinking, “Big deal!” but this was a pretty awesome feat for me. I am not a runner. Wait – I was not a runner. Until five months ago. I remember the torture of the one-mile run from phys-ed in highschool and barely being able to finish. Heck! I remember not being able to make it around the block, jogging with my dog, back in June. But on October 16th I not only ran a 5K, I did it in 31:44.

This time last year I was gearing up for training to climb a volcano (yes, really) but it was very different training. When I returned successful form that adventure in late May, it was time to learn to run. In June I launched into a couch-to-5K program and began my running adventures.

They go pretty easy on you in the beginning: run for 60 seconds, walk for 90 seconds. While the running jaunts were a challenge for lil’ ol’ me, I was pretty proud of myself for completing week one. In week three I sort of glossed over the running plan and read, “run 90 seconds, walk 90 seconds, repeat.” No problem. Well, you should always read/listen to all the directions. In this case that would have revealed run 90 seconds, walk 90 seconds, run three minutes, walk three minutes, repeat. I panicked when I first heard that, but guess what? That’s right – I did it! I ran for three minutes in a row. More than once! Again, you may be thinking, “Big whoop!” but it was another first for me.

In the end, the nine-week training program dragged into 15 weeks (injury, travel, injury – my physiotherapist and I are very close now) but I was finally running 5K around mid-September. Oh. Em. Gee. Me. Running.

A week before the official race I ran my best time ever: 5K in 30:43 (my October 16th race time was my second best time).

Race day came. I knew I could push myself and probably run my best time ever. My sister was also running though, and I really wanted to run with her. It was more important for me to run my first 5K race (and hers!) with her than to score my best time. As we stood in the corral it was hard not to feel energized and I was antsy waiting for the start gun. When it finally went... we didn’t move. Right, must wait for everyone ahead of us. About three minutes later though, we crossed the start line.

My sister set a great pace. I felt good running with her. It was also my first time running without music but between my sister, all the other runners and the crowds cheering us on, it was pretty easy to feel motivated. As we ran I felt pretty much the same as I would on one of my own runs; my sister’s pace was my pace. How convenient! We’d never run together and yet we were right at the same place.

I must admit it was a tricky run. Usually my path is clear but for the occasional person on the trail or 
Final 200 metres
 sidewalk, easy to manoeuvre around. This time, thousands of other runners surrounded me, some blocking me, some passing me, some darn near tripping me up! I’ll say that’s where my minute (best time) went. As we approached the end though, my sister and I powered up. At 200 metres we began to push ourselves. I didn’t feel I had much left in me, but I found something and my sister and I crossed the rather dangerous (people coming out of nowhere!) finish line together! It was a fantastic feeling.

So, I’ve crossed the line, I’m gasping for breath, my legs just want to stop, I need water desperately (which was not so readily available – grrrr....) and we are barely recovered when my sister asks, “So, are we training for a spring 10K now?”

We’ll see sister, we’ll see.

[Special thanks to friends, including Halifax Runner Girl, who gave me great advice and support throughout my introduction to running, and to Carli at Running Into Shape ( for her fantastic couch-to-5K mp3 training series.]

~ Laura Mousseau

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