Life List #55: Run a 5K. (With bacon…)
Running the Bacon Chase 5K.
“How is the couch to 5K going?” a friend would ask me every week when we hung out, to which I’d reply, “I’ve got the couch part down.”
Ten weeks ago I signed up to run my first 5K and immediately downloaded one of those “couch to 5K” apps onto my pink iPhone. It was a nine week, three times a week, program that alternated reps of walking and jogging dictated by a very lovely sounding woman whispering directions in my headphones. “Let’s jog,” she’d say. “Brisk walk,” she’d say.
Or, at least she would say those directions if I had ever gotten off that couch and used the app.
Finding the motivation to sign up for a 5K was easy. My friend Emily runs a lot of them and turned me on to the upcoming Bacon Chase: a 5K that promised bacon bits along the path and unlimited bacon at the end. Sign me up.
I wanted to lose weight, get in shape: I’ve gained way too many pounds since getting back to Chicago and I feel so frump that all I want to do is eat a carton of ice cream and wallow. Which, obviously, makes me even more frump. It’s a vicious cycle.
I figured ten weeks of running would help. So I signed up for the 5K. I installed the app. I bought new running shoes. I bought a sports bra that fit. And I started the 9-week program with 10 weeks ahead of me.
By the morning of my first 5K…I had completed 5 of the program’s 27 training sessions. And that fifth one was completed weeks before.
I’d put “run a 5K” on my life list as a challenge. It was supposed to teach me discipline. It was supposed to get me to train for something. It was supposed to get me in shape.
Instead, I was my normal lazy self. Between Chicago’s weather that ranged from Chiberia to a sauna with little in between it was hard to get the motivation to leave the apartment. Between working full time for months longer than I’d expected, with a full plate of creating promotional emails all day, I’d come home exhausted, just wanting to curl up and catch up on Glee and Awkward on Hulu — not put on running shoes. I guiltily made excuses until I stopped making excuses because I wasn’t even thinking about training anymore.
Ten weeks later, on the morning of the Bacon Chase, I wasn’t feeling very confident. I was out of breath just walking from the bus stop to the grounds at Montrose Beach. All I could do was bank on the advice I’d heard from one too many people: “anyone can finish a 5K.”
I knew I could finish. I mean, I often walk for miles all the time just for the heck of it. The day before the race I walked two and a half miles home from Wrigleyville because I didn’t want to wait 20 minutes for the Clark bus. If nothing else, I would finish.
In the holding area, before crossing the start line, I almost waited for another friend of mine who I knew was somewhere behind me and who I knew was less prepared than I was to run a 5K that morning. But I also knew that if I waited for her, I would end up walking the entire thing. I wouldn’t even try. I at least wanted to try.
When I stepped over that start line, I clicked on my phone’s stopwatch and started to jog, telling myself that I would run for a bit and then walk, alternating the whole way. Or at least that I would start out jogging and could switch to walking later. But as I ran I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to see how far I could push it.
After I hit the half point I slowed down to walk for a bit. But I found, at that point, that walking felt more painful than running. So I picked up my pace again and alternated between a jog and a walk. When the finish line was in site I picked up my pace, passed several people, and ran to the end.
I clicked off my stopwatch as I crossed the finish: 33 minutes, 31.85 seconds.
Some friends had told me that the first time they’d run a 5K they’d done it in 50 minutes or an hour. I was hoping to try for 45 minutes. Thirty three and a half minutes with virtually no training? I’ll take it. I’m out of shape, no doubt about that, but I’ve always been fast — I was, after all, the star of my eighth grade track team (thank you very much). I’m just lazy (hence why my running career ended at 14).
33.5 minutes was actually pretty decent considering I was in no way shape or form prepared.
After the race I met up with everyone else I knew that had run it and celebrated with the promised unlimited bacon and Bloody Mary. I mean, if you’re going to run for half an hour you really should load up afterwards with as much greasy pork product as you can.
So, will I take this 5K experience as a lesson that if I just try hard, train, I can improve my time, get in shape, get to the bacon faster? Or will this 5K as a lesson that hey, I can be my lazy un-motivated self and still get shit done?
In either case, one thing is for certain: bacon makes anything worth it.
“Run a 5K” was number 55 on my life list.