Two months ago, I joined a Couch to 5K program offered by the Nolensville Running Club, and last weekend, our graduation came in the form of running the Change for a Chance 5K, a fundraiser for the local charity which drew 248 runners (and legions of supporters) out on a clear Saturday morning.
First off, in true OTF style, I’ll share some random observations from my first-ever race:
6 Thoughts on a 5K Run
- It was so uplifting to see people cheering runners all along the way (and that includes Wendy Mucci, who somehow showed up on just about every corner of the course, banging a tamborine with enthusiasm!). My previous athletic experience has mostly involved playing beer league hockey, and while the camaraderie among teammates is special, we almost never had more than a handful of spectators in the stands (it was usually wives and girlfriends who would rather be anywhere else). It surprised me to feel the tangible boost that the clapping and cheering gave to my effort. Another special shout-out goes to Girl Scout Troop 2362, which manned a water station about halfway through.
- Having trained by doing 4:1 intervals (4 minutes running followed by 1 minute walking), I went into this race thinking I’d probably start with two of those regular intervals, and then try to run the rest of the way, listening to my body in case I needed a walking break. Instead, I began by running the first 10 minutes straight, because things just felt good right from the start, and only took 3 short walking breaks in total. My goal was to finish under 40 minutes, and I made it in 32:24. Woot!
- We’re not a particularly competitive family, but it was fun to see how our twins Haines & Hillary reacted to the challenge. During training runs, Haines was usually at the front of his group, but on race day, Hillary took the lead and never looked back, beating him by 17 seconds. In the process I think she’s kicked off a competition that won’t be taken lightly by either of her brothers. At 11, Harrison was too young to participate in the Couch to 5K program, but he’s itching to get involved (during last night’s potluck at the park, he felt compelled to run a couple timed laps around the track).
- The mens group at Nolensville First United Methodist Church are a savvy bunch of businessmen, holding a fundraising pancake breakfast immediately after the 5K was over. The regenerative powers of a stack of pancakes with a side of sausage can hardly be overstated, so of course we had to chow down. Jake Maurer was even there playing live music for the assembled crowd, but many (not all) of us were too wiped out to dance.
- I am SO glad we made the trip to Fleet Feet in Brentwood to get proper running shoes & socks, I was tempted to start the program with the basic gym shoes I had lying around, but an up-front investment in running gear was well worth it. Besides, the kids really got excited about the program as they were fitted for a genuine running shoe as well. Yes, they may be more expensive than your regular sneakers, but compared to just about any other sport the overall cost is pretty reasonable.
- While I’m sure that longtime runners are intimately familiar with this phenomenon, it was eye-opening for me to see how your body reacts to a run. There are various aches, pains, and other uncomfortable sensations cropping up at various times, in various places (there were a number of those “oh, that body part has never hurt like that before…” moments). The thing is, as long as no bones are sticking out and nothing’s falling off, if you keep on chugging the problem usually subsides, and you feel all the stronger afterward.
It’s well worth mentioning once again what a remarkable service was offered here by the Nolensville Running Club. In addition to their regular runs on Wednesday evening and Saturday morning, coaches and mentors supporting seven different groups also gave up their time every Monday and Thursday evening to help us work our way slowly from 20-minute jogs up to the point where we could complete this 5K. Their expertise, encouragement and persistence are all deeply appreciated. Even if you’re reading this from outside of the Nolensville area, take a moment to research local running clubs in your neck of the woods – you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
And have I mentioned that the Couch to 5K program was totally free?
Obviously, the real objective for this was to attract new members to their cult, and I’m happy to say that our family is jumping in with all 10 feet.
After all, we’ve graduated – we’re now runners, and my kids are already actively researching 5K runs for our next family outing (feel free to leave a suggestion in the comments below, we’re all ears). To make it official, we’ve even slapped a Nolensville Running Club sticker on the family minivan, an unprecedented development. I guess that makes it official, right? We’ll see you all on Wednesday nights!