Sunday, September 4, 2016

I did a 5K every week for 10 weeks and here's what happened

Hi! My name is Kim

I started my journey to "Running" back in January 2016 where I was actually only walking. I wrote a blog post about my First 5K in the Good Times Spring Series and I must have jinxed myself because I later injured myself for a couple months (the injury wasn't even running related), Nonetheless, I didn't complete all 10 races in the Spring Series. I returned to the Summer series with a goal to complete all 10 races! 

Here's what I learned.... 

Image via Ted Tyler / Jim Rhoades

I realized that drinking excessive alcohol affects my running.

I sure do like to imbibe on the weekends and you would think that a couple of days is enough to get back on track.  For me, it actually took longer to hydrate and recover.  The issue seemed to be excessive calve cramping during the runs... which is a direct result of dehydration.  Despite drinking lots of water during and after the booze fest, it took a couple days to get things back to normal.

Some weeks I just didn't want to run.

I made excuses.. it was either 92 degrees and humid or pouring rain minutes before the run. There were days when I just didn't feel like running and I just wanted to go home, order pizza and binge watch Netflix. What got me going was that Golden Miley, I had to complete all 10 races!  One race that I actually didn't want to run at all, I ended up PR'ring. What a pleasant surprise!

Amber's face (middle) captures how I felt some weeks before the run

My Facebook feeds and Google ads exploded

Not only did I post weekly running posts and pics but I was also tagged in other posts.  This resulted in  Facebook and Google labeling me as a person interested in running so now my daily Facebook and Google ads and promos are related to running and ads to sign up for other runs in the area or for running sneakers.  Also, being FB friends with other runners shows me the other runs that they are participating in. Sometimes I join and sometimes I live vicariously through them.

I COULDN'T outrun a BAD diet. 

I would love to write about how running weekly 5K's has helped me shed 50 pounds but I haven't lost any weight.  They say diet is like 60% - 80% of weight loss. Well.. I can't lose weight if I'm constantly eating like a truck driver.  I celebrate PR's with beers, wings and Chinese.  I need to get my diet in check to see results.  The next go around, things will be DIFFERENT!

On the other hand, I have noticed some muscle definition in my legs that I contribute to running.

Image via Ted Tyler / Jim Rhoades

Running with seasoned runners got me out of the comfort zone

My friends all run faster than I do. Some of them are waiting at the finish line more than 15 minutes for me to complete my 5K.  As a fun run (for them), they each ran with me on separate runs.

Usually, I stop at the bottom of the hill and tell myself I can walk up the hill as a "break".  When I ran with Samantha, I said, "let's go until the bottom of the hill, we can stop there." She was like 'No, that is your problem, keep going until you can't go anymore, its all mental" Of course I was frustrated and I VERY SLOWLY jogged up the hill and to my surprise, I didn't stop until over a mile later at the 2nd water stop.  That night, I PR'ed.

When I ran with my friend Ouk, she trailed behind me and let me do my own thing until she noticed that I slowed down my pace or took longer than usual breaks. She would gently nudge me in the back as in "Let's go" and I was like a energizer bunny than just got another wind- up.

My friend Amber was motivating and encouraging. She was like a personal running coach by my side. She would tell me to pick up pace, watch my form and offer words of encouragement.  As I was huffing and puffing away, she'd entertain me with her vocals and sing songs to keep me entertained. Even off road, Amber is my go to person to discuss training strategies, goals, injuries and anything else running related.

I met some INCREDIBLE people

When I first started, I went in thinking that everyone else was going to be a svelte young athlete with the typical "runner's" body. I quickly found out that this was not the case.

I met elderly runners over 80 years old that still had the urge to run.   I met people who overweight and still committed to running for better health to lose weight. I met a woman who lost over 100 pounds from running and ran a half marathon.  I met a man that ran at the same slow pace that I did, yet he completes in 10K's and even half marathons.

Meeting these people helped me realized that I didn't need to have the "perfect" body but I just needed to have determination and discipline and try my BEST.

Christine was always there to let me know what a great job I was doing whether I was having an off week or still recovering from injury. It was nice to have someone by my side motivating me and cheering me on as we pushed each other to the finish line. I HATE running with a phone so she would blare the music so we can both jam out to the popular hits to get us through the runs.  As a newer runner herself, she shared her experiences with me and taught me to go slow and steady and not get burnt out so quickly.  She was actually the one who got me to sign up for the series.

I MOTIVATED other people to run 

On a regular basis, people would approach me in real life or Facebook or email and tell me what a great motivation I am to them. I was surprised to learn that a lot of people have the same anxiety and fears about running as I did in the past. " I can't last 5 minutes", "I'm too fat to run", "I have asthma" etc.

People inquired about the weekly 5K's, my workouts, "diet" etc.  It was incredible how much impact my weekly posts had.  Hey, I'm not tooting my own horn but it feels awesome to know that something I am doing for my own personal health and challenge is encouraging others to do the same and join in on the band wagon.

I learned that I am not going to PR every week.

This was a bit more annoying. I thought I would be able to PR regularly. I didn't expect to PR every week but I wanted to gain momentum and gradually increase my speed for a better time. I did PR twice.

My 5K time improved

On the first run, I was coming back from an injury and took it easy. I gradually got better and improved my time significantly although it was still tough to be my PR set in the Spring series. Here's a snapshot of the weekly runs.

1st run:     June 21st:  47.11 
4th run:    July 12th:   42.19
5th run:    July 19th:   39.38 
7th run:    Aug 9th:     37.46
8th run:    Aug 16th:   36.33
10th run:  Aug 30th:   36:46 (12 secs from a PR!

First Week

10th Week

Shopping for Sneakers was a different experience

Typically, I want into a store, try on different shoes and walk out with the one I like best. To get a good pair of running sneakers, I went to a running store, exchanged in a small questionnaire with a salesperson, ran on an indoor treadmill, got my running videotaped, got my running analyzed then was suggested some sneakers that would most likely work for me.  As cheap as I am, I bit the bullet and actually paid over $100.00 for the first pair. Once I learned the style and type of shoes I needed, I was able to find older models online at a fraction of the price.  Clearly, I'm a fan of Brooks.

latest additions to the Sneaker Collection


All those times on the treadmill portions of the class, the coaches would push us to go faster whether it was on an "all out" or "run for distance" or a "rolling hill" helped me mentally push myself on the actual 5K course. When I would run up the last hill, I would imagine the coaches' voice in my head as if we were in class to "empty the tank" and go all out.

I met with my Chiropractor weekly 

As a new runner, I knew my form was not up to par and I was always prone to injuries.  Every week before the run, I met with my awesome chiro Jim from Evolved Health in Woburn and we would work on stretching, spinal manipulation, (putting me back into place), breathing, etc. He would also perform the Graston technique on my lower back and legs where it was always tight. I would also let him know if there were any unusual pains or sensations and he would look into it.  I would get my lower back taped as well to help with posture.  Of course, this is an added cost but luckily I was able to use FSA funds to cover it.

I'm more MINDFUL on my posture and breathing

It's actually tougher than it is to focus on posture and breathing. At first, I would just think about getting the run over with and just going. Instead of slouching and leaning forward, I mindfully try to keep my pelvis in the correct position and try to keep my back straight.  Now, I'm still not perfect and I tend to lean forward when I'm tired but I do try. I'm more mindful with my swinging arms and try to not let it go across my chest.  I'm still learning how to breathe in with my nose and stomach and breathing out with my mouth. This is still WORK in PROGRESS.

I learned to RELAX 

I read in a book that runners should run like a kid and be "relaxed and playful" and not so tense and "worried".  One of the great features of the Good Times 5k is the photographer that captures our runs.  In the beginning weeks, the photographer captured some photos of me looking like I was already dreading the run within the first few minutes.  I looked so tense and serious and there was great apprehension in my facial expressions. My shoulders were always up to my ears.

Image via Ted Tyler / Jim Rhoades

With that being said, in the later runs, I learned to take in the run, enjoy the scenery and not get too wound up over it.  I partook in an "emergency drink" and stopped for selfies along the way and just had a good time.

Image via Ted Tyler / Jim Rhoades

Image via Ted Tyler / Jim Rhoades


Completing all 10 races made me feel truly accomplished.  Even through I didn't get that PR on the last run, I was happy to receive the Golden Miley award.  It took discipline to not miss a day of the race,  My goal next year is to run all 10 Spring races as well as all 10 Summer races and beat my PR from this year's season. The long term goal is to get to a 10 minute mile!

Special shout out to all the volunteers and sponsors that help make the race possible! I loved the motivation and encouragement from the gents at the water stations and check points and comical relief they added.  The MC's did a great job keeping the pre and post race events lively.  Being a novice photographer myself, I appreciate the photographers capturing all the runners throughout the weeks and changing up the scenery.  Kudos to Dave Camire and Jessica Costa for organizing such a great event! I can't imagine all the work that goes into sorting the bibs, prizes and updating the results.  

Thanks to all the other runners that encouraged me along the way and called out my name at the finish line! Much Love! 

The Good Times Summer Series is a 5K running series every Tuesday night at 7 PM in Lowell. Each week, there is a different fun theme that runners partake in.  The races are chip timed weekly, giving runners the opportunity to beat their times from the prior weeks.  Standard pricing is $100.00 for all 10 races or $80.00 if you pay before the date of the special.

Until next year