Well, I finally did it! Today I ran my first (and probably last) 5 Mile Run at the Swiss City Marathon in Lucerne. As a non-jogger, I am quite proud of having accomplished this feat–from zero to 5 miles–all within the space of a single month. Let me tell you my story.
How it all started:
It all started at the end of last month when my friend M- hosted a sports-themed party at his apartment, and I dutifully showed up in my new running outfit that I bought from Primark in London the previous week. Never mind that I had never actually worn that outfit jogging before, but it had little silhouettes of a female runner on the outfit, so I figured it would be a fitting costume as a jogger.
When I arrived at the party, all the guys teased me about where my yoga mat was. Hey… it was supposed to be a RUNNING outfit. :O And to complete the look, I even wore my Yelp sport wristband to boot. 😉
But anyway, my friends K- and R- (real runners) then showed up at the party and started chatting about running half marathons. Ugh… I was only dressed as a runner… I never actually claimed to be one. So I left them to it and didn’t bother participating in their conversation.
Two nights later, I was messing around on Facebook when suddenly I got a group message from the two of them about joining the Lucerne half marathon. They noted that there was a 5 Mile Run I could do for my first run, so “let’s impulse register!” Say what?! Uh… no thank you. I knew I should have gone to bed earlier instead of staying up messing around on the internet. This is what happens when I don’t go to bed at a decent hour… I get roped into running a race.
Anyway, I also happened to be chatting with my friend J- at the same time, so I joked that if J- signed up, then I would sign up, too. The reason why I brought up J-‘s name was because I knew he was busy studying for his upcoming CFA exam in December and had no time to commit to such silly extra-curricular activities. 😉
Little did I know that the next day, K- would be applying kind but firm pressure on J- to sign up, and then HE DID SO THAT VERY EVENING! :O I really hadn’t counted on him doing it. Damn.
I tried to hem and haw my way out of it, but there was no way around it. I was stuck.
So on October 1st, I registered for the 5 Mile Run and put myself out of CHF 50 + 3.80 in transaction fees to torture myself at the end of the month. That’s a LOT of money to pay for self-torture. 😦
Training for the race:
The next day, I started training for the race. I drew out a little plan for myself. There were 4 weeks to go until the race on October 27th. So I would target 3 miles the first week… 4 miles the 2nd week… 5 miles the 3rd week… and then I still had the 4th week to continue practicing 5 mile runs. That seemed realistic. And thanks to the lovely CardioTrainer Android app, I could track my progress to keep myself motivated. Here’s what happened:
Training week 1:
The first 3 days, I ran 3.5 miles each day in about 40 minutes. Okay, that was doable. Then over the weekend, I tried to run longer, and hey–I discovered that I could actually run 5 miles in about an hour! I’d never run that much in my life before, so it was kind of exciting. I had achieved my target the very first week! Now this run was actually doable. And I was able to run 5 days in a row! 🙂
Training week 2:
I ran about 5.5 miles in an hour on Tuesday and Friday. I was feeling super sexy as I noticed my weight dropping and my belly getting flatter… despite still eating and drinking whatever I wanted to. This running was turning out to be pretty cool. 🙂 Then over the weekend, I ran almost 6 miles each day in about 65 minutes. And then I felt a twinge in my left thigh, and my friend A- told me to stop overdoing it so I wouldn’t injure myself.
Training week 3:
I dropped the training to only 3x per week with no runs two consecutive days in a row. I ran 5.8 miles in 66 minutes on Tuesday and 6 miles in 68 minutes on Thursday. Then on Sunday, I participated in the Run 4 Kids and completely exhausted myself. I ended up doing 8.8 miles in 104 minutes, but that included about 5 breaks, some walking, and I was COMPLETELY pooped for the rest of the day. I also started developing knee pain for the first time. 😥
Training week 4:
The GPS on my smartphone malfunctioned on Tuesday–so I dunno how far I ran–but I ran for 72 minutes without any pain and felt like a superstar. So then I tried again on Thursday and ran 7.2 miles in 82 minutes… and started getting knee pain again. Uh-oh.
Night before Race Day:
I consulted with J-–who was also experiencing severe knee pain from the Run 4 Kids event last Sunday–about whether this race was a good idea. “It’s terrible timing,” he said, “but we paid too much to skip it.” But then I mentioned that it’s already a sunk cost. But I suppose we weren’t doing business decision-making, LOL. J- also pointed out that including transport time, we would be
wasting spending half a day to do a 1-hour race. Doh.
We took the train from Zürich to the start of the 5 Mile Run at Horw and saw TONS of people participating in this event. Wow, I guess it’s really popular. It was really crowded but kind of cool to join all the hoopla. Unfortunately, K- and R- already finished the half marathon in the morning and were completely drenched from the rain, so they left before we even arrived and we didn’t get to meet.
J- and I were kind of lucky that the sun came out in the afternoon. My shoes and pants did get kind of muddy during the run, but we weren’t really affected by the rain.
The run itself was actually quite fun. Lots of peeps, lots of spectators cheering us on, calypso bands and Swiss alphorn players around every corner, snacks and drinks to refuel us along the way. There were a group of firefighters from Baden in full gear with oxygen tanks, and everyone was delighted to see them running. At first they were right behind us, and it was quite disturbing to hear what sounded like Darth Vader behind me–from them breathing through their face masks. But then I guess they dropped off or dropped the gear, because I didn’t see them anymore.
We each had an electronic chip attached to our running bib, and it was kind of cool because I guess it would display our names at certain checkpoints, so then I had random strangers cheering me on by name. “Hopp I-Lin!!” It was really cute and motivating. One announcer butchered my name and said something like “Lin Lin!” To which I still lifted up both arms and waved to the crowd anyway. Heehee… 🙂
At first, J- and I kept pace together, but about halfway through, he started getting really fast, and I couldn’t keep up. My heart felt like it was about to burst, so I told him to ditch me and zoom on ahead. I tried to pick up my pace a bit to catch up… but then I saw a guy on stretcher go by me, and I decided it’s not worth it to push myself to the extreme.
After reaching the finish line, we each got a little souvenir towel, some more fruit and drinks, and a cup of alcohol-free beer. I’d never had alcohol-free beer before, but it was quite delicious. J- saw a Slovenian flag displayed and wanted a photo next to it. I looked around for a U.S. flag but didn’t see one. However, I saw the flag of Taiwan! Even though it was displayed backwards. 😛 So I took a photo with the Taiwanese flag. You don’t usually see one of those around.
End result was that I ran the 5 miles in 52 minutes. That’s the fastest time I’ve ever run the 5 miles in. I ranked 257 out of 571 women. Not bad. So it is possible to train for a 5 mile run with 14 training runs in the space of 4 weeks. I’m glad I tried it out, as it was a fun experience. But both J- and I have decided to retire from running races in the future. There’s no point to push ourselves to the limit and risk injury.