Eleven years ago I wouldn’t have dreamt of running a 5k, a 10k, or anything else. Little would I know that eleven years later, a week without running would be non-existent in my life. Let me tell you how the story begins.
I was 23 and I had heard people talking about 10k races and about marathons -which I thought were the same thing-. I was born and raised in Venezuela and this running era had just started down there. Maybe 3-5 races per year were all we had. I heard about these people I knew who ran for 10 kilometers: ‘they must be super human!’
Then one day my brother was selling tickets for a 10k. The money would go to a wonderful charity that gave food to poor families. Always in favor of helping, I decided to buy one from him. Then he said: ‘why don’t you run the 10k? You could always walk if you get tired.’ And the more I thought about it, the less frightening it seemed. What was the worst thing that could happen? I would have to walk. The only problem was that the 10k was 15 days away.
Logging walking miles -or kms- was not a problem for me. Now, running was completely new and unknown. I searched the internet and found a ‘Couch to 5k’ plan, which had a run-walk format. The plan required 1min running, 2 min walking x5 for a week on alternating days, then 2min running, 1min W for week2, then 3min R, 1min W for week3, and so on. But with 15 days to go, I ran-walked every day and instead for weekly cycles I had to do 3-day cycles.
Come race day, I was prepared to run 5 min, walk 2 min until I could and then walk the rest. I had a very good companion by my side who pushed me from the start. I started jogging and after 5 min I was prepared to stick to my schedule and take a walk break, but he told me to push. Alright, I’ll walk after min 10. Minutes 12, 14, 20 went by and I was still running.
New plan… I will walk at the half-way mark. I was ready to stop. I was tired and a side stitch at km 6 was the perfect excuse. ‘Come on, you don’t need to stop, you’re almost there.’ I think that the moment I really believe I could do it was after km 7 (mile 4.5). After Km 7 I knew there was no point in stopping, so I just trusted and kept the pace (which I now know is called ‘pace’).
My first finish line was fantastic. Crossing it made me realize that I had discovered a new world. A new world in which people actually do something productive on Sundays before the rest of the world has woken up…