5k Day

The ε>0 exercise plan continues. I did a 5k today. A friend was doing her first one; I came out to run in support.

I still remember my first 5k. I was about 30? Maybe 29 years old. I had done some running before, but it was hard and it rarely lasted for long. My main form of exercise at that time was a martial arts class, and I hadn’t gone in a while. After another lazy day, I went out one evening and surprised myself by how far I managed to run. Perhaps a more accurate description would be a slow jog. I did my first 5k not long after that. I think I finished in about 31 minutes, and I was thrilled. I ran a 5k! That is more than 3 miles! And I wasn’t last!

I’ve since done many 5ks. And many 10ks (you know that is more than 6 miles?), and a handful of half-marathons (13.1 miles!), although I think I’ve sworn them off after that last one. I’ve had an ambition to do a marathon (26.2!) twice, both times it got discouraged by IT band issues after I got up to a 15 mile run. That was heart breaking; I’ve eliminated that ambition from my diet.

The last half-marathon was at the beginning of December. It’s a long way to fall from doing most of a half marathon to finding 6 minutes of running taxing, but I managed it. I’ve been getting out to run maybe once a week. I knew better than to expect much today. Letting go of the past is hard. Today’s 5k was completed in 32:50, which is not half bad all things considered. So why do I feel disappointed?

A few years ago I ran a 5k in under 29 minutes. I think in under 28 minutes. I nearly threw up; boy was I pleased with myself.

Where does all that excitement go, between that first one where I would have been thrilled (THRILLED!) at 32:50, and today, where I am struggling with disappointment over the 32:50? I wish I knew, and I wish I could get it back. I suspect it’s stolen my motivation away along with it.

How do I reconcile this feeling of personal disappointment with the feeling of admiration for my friend, who ran her first 5k today, finishing in about 52 minutes, which is a damn fine time when you are older than 60. She did a mixture of run-walking, run for a minute, walk for two. Ran in the last bit. It is admirable to start on a running plan at any age. To stick to your plan for 52 minutes and get through the race, not letting the young, fast whippersnappers make you feel bad about what you can do. As Nike says, “Just do it.”

Maybe there it is, maybe that is exactly the lesson for me. It’s easy to be happy and motivated when you are doing something new. Success going forward means sticking to your plan and getting through the race, not letting the young, fast, whippersnapper you remember yourself being get in the way of what you can do today.