Run Omega. Run: My 5K Story

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Run a 5K? Yes, I’m hearing the beginners make all of the excuses.

“I am not fit enough!”

“I doh run unless is Carnival Tuesday and I trying to catch up to the music truck.”

“My knees not good enough.”

“Gyul…I jes doh run!”

I know them all, because I used to make them too. Well, more along the lines of the I-doh-run excuse because I just did not run, unless a dog was chasing me (which, as you know, is a matter of life and death, lately).

Then, a few months ago, I paid for a Carnival costume and loved it. But I was not in love with the body that was in it. The abs weren’t ripped; in fact they were a bit rippled. And my thighs were a bit more jiggly than I would have liked.

As soon as I saw pictures of myself, I resolved (for the umpteenth time) to start back exercising, and get back to the fit chick I was, way back before my university days, when the life of a student made me put on the ‘freshman 15’. You know…those 15 pounds that most new university students somehow manage to put on during their first year? Well, I actually managed to put on more of a ‘freshers 20’. Twenty pounds that I am yet to shake.

So, I joined a gym and I hated it! Then I decided that since I have (shamefully) secured a nice little collection of Wii exercise games, and numerous exercise DVDs – including yoga, Pilates, and even P90x – I would exercise at home. That didn’t work out too well, initially, because I could not stick to it.

Then I found out about the Couch to 5K (C25K) programme. This was going to be my 2012 challenge. I thought that if this programme could make someone prepare to run a 5K, in nine weeks, then it could make me fit.

I started at home, and modified the programme so I could simulate running and brisk walking on the spot. I was able to knock off two weeks, before I got it in my head that I would actually take part in a 5K.

I was going to join the ranks of the health conscious – this new wave of people who are paying closer attention to their health and taking on new physical challenges every day to achieve their goals. Suddenly, the girl who thought that walking around the Savannah was akin to a mortal sin wanted to do a 5K.

The mind is an incredible thing! The moment I pushed away the mental blocks and found something I liked to do, I felt a change in my body, and, more importantly, my attitude. All of a sudden, I wanted to do things I would never have attempted.

All of you fit people may be scoffing at my measly mountain of a 5K. You probably use 5Ks, as practice sessions for bigger goals. But I know that the beginners understand how big this was for me. Although it’s the equivalent of 3.1 miles, it can seem like forever for a first timer.

Honestly, I was aiming for the Scotiabank 5K later in the year, but, a few weeks later, I attempted my first 5K with a friend. I stood staring at the back of a sea of people who were hyped and ready to run. The starter pistol went off. Most of them were off and running. I decided to pace myself and power-walked with my friend for a long time, finding my rhythm. I suddenly felt proud. I was actually doing it.

“You can do it, don’t stop,” shouted my ever-supportive boyfriend who opted to support from the sidelines. “Just breathe. You are doing just fine.”

We walked, faster than I have ever done before, but I kept up with my friend. My boyfriend kept prompting us to take a jog. At first, I wasn’t up for it, but I thought, “Why not try it?”

Then we did. We jogged at least two blocks. Well, okay, my friend and other runners jogged two blocks. I jogged a block and a half, before I felt as if my chest was going to explode, and my legs were going to collapse under me.

Let me tell you… I believe these races are more like 70% mental prowess and 30% physical capability. I tried again, but I had to force my legs to move. My mind was the only thing pushing me forward. Pushing me to fulfil a small goal and make myself feel proud…even throughout the pain. This race became less about everyone on the outside, and more about my own inner strength. My mantra was, “Just finish, even if you finish last.”

During the last stretch, my friends had already taken the lead, and I soon lost sight of them. People twice my age passed me and even little kids went whizzing by, while I tried to keep a good pace and breathe. My boyfriend kept shouting, “You are doing fine, and you’re still going. We’re almost finished.” (He sweet eh!)

If I try to explain how I felt every step of the way, I’ll keep you here forever, or you’ll return to Facebook to maco someone’s photos. So here’s what happened in the end. I finished my first 5K with a time of 51.22 – not bad for someone who simply did not run. And there were a lot more people after me, slower than I was. I was all smiles and burning legs. I had achieved the biggest physical goal I had ever set out to achieve.

What have I learnt? That the mental hurdles are the hardest when trying to become fit, and taking on physical challenges. Like some of you reading this, I tried several times to choose a goal, and stick to it. This is the first time, in a long time, that I actually did it. So maybe, the next time you try, you’ll actually stick to your goal too.

Not everyone is super fit. Not everyone is Jillian Michaels. But if you get rid of your doubts and excuses, you’ll get rid of some of the biggest obstacles to being fit.

I plan to continue my running programme and to do more running than walking in my next 5K. And, hopefully, when Carnival 2013 comes around, I’ll love the body in the sexy costume I want to wear.

Omega Francis is just a girl who loves to laugh, read, write and discover new things. She wants to be a writer more than anything else, and strives to make her favourite Stephen King quote become her reality: "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot…reading is the creative center of a writer’s life…you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you."

6 Comments

  1. Marsha S. Haneiph

    July 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Good for you, Omega!  You’re quite right.  It really is a mental challenge in addition to a physical one.  I finished the Robert Ullrey C25K podcast last week and my first 5K will be in December.

    • Omega Francis

      July 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      Hey Marsha, thanks a lot. I did not run everyday, I am doing the training every other day and I used to do  simple weight training in the ‘in between’ days. Now I have added Jilian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred to be my in between day workout.

      • Marsha S. Haneiph

        July 10, 2012 at 3:19 am

        Hi Omega, thanks for the reply.  I’ve found that it’s almost twice as hard to run if I skip the between day workout.  It’s murder and I have to smother my legs with Biofreeze.

        Hey, have you heard of http://www.dailymile.com?  It’s a social networking site for runners, athletes, etc. It’s designed to foster healthy competition and camaraderie.  I like it a lot.

  2. Berkleymelissa

    July 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Great article Omega….and yes, you are right about mental obstacles, getting past those is the key to achieving not just fitness goals but  many other goals in life,

  3. Lullum Joseph

    July 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Congrats Omega! Good job on the article and race.

  4. One Opinionated Woman

    July 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    I’m excited for my first 5K in December.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EERSfHiqT8

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