Monday, March 14, 2011

I Don't Look Like A Runner... But I Still Ran 5K

But then again, I don't look like a rocket scientist either. People can surprise you.
First off, I'm such a shorty. I feel like I look like a cartoon running at higher speeds. You know, the drawing of the roadrunner and it's legs are just a blurry wheel beneath it's body. Yep, that's what I feel like I look like trying to keep up with a treadmill at 6.0 MPH. I tried 7.0 MPH once to finish the last 0.1 miles of my 5K with a bang. I thought my legs were going to fly off. Plus I'm not tiny, well maybe compared to what I was before, but I look at the girls at the gym running like it's such a breeze and they're thin, and tall, and barely breaking a sweat. At 7.0 mph.
But, I learned this pretty early on in school, looks don't determine success. I like to think I'm a pretty good rocket scientist (mechanial structure engineer, same difference... haha), but I certainly don't look the part. I'm rocking heels and a mini skirt right now, I look more suited to be in the business office of the company. But nope, I'm churning out engineering drawings and inspecting satellites. I'm one of the few females in my department. It feels good to surprise people with what I can do.
Why does running have to be any different? Sure, I have to work hard to get to the same level as the tall, skinny, effortless running girls. But I can get there just the same. Maybe not running at  7.0 mph, but I ran my very first 5K on the treadmill. I ran the whole thing! I started at a slower pace to warm up at 4.4 mph and cranked it up gradually to 4.8 mph and ran at that pace for almost the entire time. I turned it down to 4.7 for the last couple minutes and then sprinted at 6.0 to get under a 40 minute time. I really thought I might die before I saw 3.1 miles come up on the screen. The last few tenths of a mile were painful. But I was committed. It would be like quitting my degree program in the last semester. I didn't work that hard the whole time to walk the last 5 minutes. So, I pushed and cranked up my music and I did it. It's amazing what I can do, especially armed with my inhaler for the exercise asthma. 
So now I have a nice starting point for my 5K training (race with my MPF twin Sarah on May 1st in DC!).  I know I can RUN a sub-40 minute 5K. I was OK at a 12:30 pace for most of it. I think with a month and a half of working on it, I can get my pace below 12 minutes and hopefully closer to 11-something. I'd love to run the race in under 36 minutes. It's a flat course in downtown DC, so it shouldn't be terrible. I'm gonna start running outside at least once a week now that the time has changed and it's not dark when I get home. I have that nice trail around my apartment that's one lap = 1K. And it's a bit hilly so it'll challenge me. 
It's really nice to have something to work towards, and I'm hoping the scale starts to follow suit. This weekend's family visit derailed me a bit, but I made the best food choices I could at the places we are. And I kept it to one beer per dinner. Now it's time to focus.  And running is a great motivation to eat the right foods and not stress. Who would have thought that I'd be a runner? But some people didn't think I'd be a rocket scientist either... time to prove people wrong once again.

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