Why shouldn't you train for your first 5k seven weeks after a C-section? This is a question I never asked myself because, honestly, I'm a bit of an idealist. In my ideal world everyone can run a 5K. In under 20 minutes. Without sweating. So when I got clearance from my doctor to "resume normal activity" I knew this was code for "begin training for the hardest physical activity you have ever personally attempted."
I registered for a class called "Your First 5K" that meets every Monday night at Heritage Park. (Enter first non-runner thought: Outside? Where do we have class if it rains?) "Your First 5K" is taught by two personal trainers/marathon runners named Tom and Cathy, who probably look exactly as you are picturing. They are young, healthy, and full of enthusiasm for running. Cathy is currently training for a full marathon, but Tom is busy and "only" doing "the half."
Can we take a minute to ponder the marathon? A marathon is a foot race for the distance of 26.2 miles. If you didn't understand that, it's like waking up in Canton and thinking, "I'd really like to eat dinner in DETROIT tonight. Good thing I've got these trusty feet to get me there." It's a long.freaking.way. For more perspective, get in your car and drive until you use about a gallon of gas.
I'm not gonna lie. There's a certain level of crazy my body will never hope to reach ... and that level of crazy is called Marathon Runner.
The class has sixteen people registered (although Tom cheerfully informs us that in three weeks only five or six will remain, reinforcing my Navy Seal fantasies and cementing the inner vow that I, alone, will persevere). We are given a training schedule (non-runner thought #2: We have to do this more than once a week?) that include 4 runs a week of increasing length, and cross-training on the off days. Today's run will consist of one minute run/two minute walk intervals, repeated for thirty minutes. We will run the .44 mile path that encircles the pond, hopefully five or six times. (I'll save you the math. 5x = 2.2 miles. Awesome.)
I could say a lot about my experiences that first class, but I'll suffice to say it began in optimism and ended in vomit. Specifically, mine.
I promised my sick husband I'd swing by Meijer after class and buy him some immunity boosting juice. That's an easy promise to make when you are not drawing concerned stares from complete strangers who are watching your red face with cell phone in hand, ready to dial 911 and rescue you from the passing out that should occur any minute now.
The next week we all meet up and lie about how great the previous weeks runs felt. I have shin splints and my hips and tummy hurt, but everyone else says that their running was almost downright euphoric, so of course I smile and nod along. Today is a four minute run/two minute walk around the pond. Tom and Cathy station themselves on opposite sides of the pond so they can encourage us midway through each lap. This initially causes me nothing but panic as I have .22 mile to come up with something witty and endearing to say EACH TIME I PASS one of them. I'm also concentrating on looking completely at ease and not like I'm about to die, which is how I feel. The second lap brings a light sprinkle. Inspired, I come up with this gem. "I'm running ... in the rain!" with arms raised the way I imagine star athletes celebrate a win. Tom laughs and responds, "Imagine how great it feels in the snow." This new thought (non-runner thought #3 - We could possibly run in the SNOW?) sidetracks me so fully that before I am prepared I see Cathy five yards away. I open my mouth to greet her, and inhale a bug.
Oh.My.Word. I officially hate running.
I make a variety of faces I'm sure display my (well-deserved) feelings of horror and Cathy says, "Doing OK?" I say, "I just ate a bug." Now, when someone says "I just ate a bug" there are a variety of responses I might expect. "Gross," for example. "I'm sorry," or even "Why don't you stop running and rinse out your mouth?" (which I'm kinda hoping for). Cathy chooses none of them. "It happens," she replies. I sputter some nonsense about needing more protein anyway as I keep running, absolutely appalled that swallowing an INSECT is par for the course in this strange new running culture.