Lydia Morris writes about her first and second 5ks! She does a great write up and captures all the joy that experienced runners (me included) have to enjoy through others cause we’ve lost it. She also brings up an excellent topic that I completely believe in and have preached to many. Lydia takes up running, then to improve her running she gets healthier in all aspects of her life – diet, yoga, motivation… she ends up in an upward spiral that improves her life which improves her running which improves her life…. These are some of my favorite recaps to read. Keep it up Lydia, you motivate me! -Jared Busen
“This is the first time I’ve ever been able to see my breath when running.” I said to a fellow 5K jogger the morning of the Quincy Family YMCA Turkey Run. I made a commitment to running this past June, and where I live in Atlanta, GA, a typical summer day is pretty hot and humid. Thanksgiving morning was my first time running in sub 50 degree weather, and I loved every minute of it!
I didn’t start running to get in shape or to lose weight. After high school, my history of working out had been sporadic at best. I just didn’t care much about physical activity. That changed when after six long years of graduate school with no end in sight, I had settled into a routine of too little sleep, an unhealthy diet and very little free time. Though I did carve out a little time for church activities, dinners with friends and play dates with my little cousins, I had mostly forgotten about the world outside of school and work. My life was completely unbalanced, I had no energy, and to say I was stressed out would be an understatement.
Completely overwhelmed and burned out, I was desperate to find a way to effectively relieve stress. I decided that whatever it was needed to be cheap, fun and not take up too much of my time. I did a little research and decided to start running because it isn’t expensive, it’s not very time-consuming, and I heard from others that it can be enjoyable.
I started out slowly with the popular 9-week long Couch to 5K (C25K) program, which allowed me to ease into the workouts without wanting to immediately give up as in the past. For three days a week I alternated between treadmill workouts and walking/running around my neighborhood in the evenings after it cooled down.
I did start to enjoy running, and I also began to do a little research. I read yoga would help to prevent injuries, so I started going to a yoga class on Saturday mornings. I also read that healthy eating, getting enough sleep and drinking plenty of water are also important habits for runners. As my running improved each week, I slowly adopted these habits and noticed a substantial difference. I dropped about ten pounds over the past five months, but I am also more focused, I have much more energy and I feel much happier. Running helped me make both my physical and my mental health priorities.
Just a few weeks of running had improved my mood and motivated me to make some healthy lifestyle changes. At that point I wanted to continue increasing my running distance, and I needed a goal other than just to finish the C25K program. It worked out that in August the cancer center at Emory University, where I go to school, announced it would holding its first annual 5K fundraiser (Winship Win the Fight 5K) in October. I formed a team with a few of my co-workers, signed us up, and continued to run weekly.
Before the race, I only made it through “week six” of C25K, which ended in a 20 minute run. For me, that’s about two miles. I figured if I could run two, I could run three. I tested my theory by looking up the course online and trying it out a week before race day. After about a mile of jogging I felt like I might pass out! It was much hillier than I was used to, so I ended up stopping and walk-running the rest of the way. It seemed the course was pretty much either flat or on a slight upward incline the whole 3.2 miles. Though I was pretty discouraged by all the hills, I set two goals for race day: to finish in 30 minutes and to not walk at all.
I noticed something interesting the morning of the race. The start/finish line was set up in the opposite direction from how I had practiced a week before. So the course would be mostly flat and downhill. Yes! With the excitement of the crowd (~2,000 runners and walkers) and my adrenaline going, I was sure I’d be able to accomplish my goals. I ended up running for the entire race with an unofficial time of 31:22, according to my wristwatch. I was really proud of what I accomplished in terms of running the whole race and contributing to a worthy cause (our team raised $1,250). I was actually happier than I’d been in a long time.
Getting back to the morning of the Turkey Run, in our family we usually hit a holiday trifecta every several years. I was born on November 24th, which is also my parents’ wedding anniversary. This year it was also Thanksgiving Day! I used this to my advantage when I signed up for the run and added my younger sister, Regina, to my team for the 5K leisure walk. I knew this was a little early for her, especially for a non- work day, but I figured I could convince her using the old “but it’s my birthday” line. It worked, and we were out of the house by 7:30 a.m. to go pick up our packets. I’m glad we arrived early because it gave us a chance to catch up on sister time since we don’t see each other very often. I also happened to see Laura who was running the 10K, and we chatted for a bit before the race started. She truly is an inspiration to anyone wanting to be more physically active!
Regina ran into a few of her friends — one was walking and the other was running the 5K. She‘d have a walking buddy and I’d have a running buddy! When the race started I was determined to beat my time of 31:22. My sister’s friend blew by me and as I watched her pass me up, but I decided to just go with my own speed. At my usual 10 min/ mile pace, and with some of my favorite tunes blasting in my ear buds, the first few miles were easy. I was reminded why I enjoyed my first race so much. I love jogging next to so many people who all have the same goal, and it’s nice that the traffic is cut off to allow us to do so.
Around mile three I got a pretty intense stomach cramp that didn’t go away with the controlled breathing I read about, so I walked for about half a minute. I quickly remember my goal of beating my previous finishing time so I started running again and managed to power myself up the last hill to the finish line. Gift to self: my official time was 31:09! On my 28th birthday I saw my breath while running for the first time, I ran my second 5K and I continued on my journey toward a healthier lifestyle initiated by a new found love of running.
My favorite running/fitness/motivation quote: “You have a choice. You can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off of your face.”