The end of our 15 weeks of training was rapidly approaching. For the last three weeks of training, I had no other exercise classes to go to. They had all come to an end, and I decided not to sign up for any other classes until the Couch to 5K program was over. I definitely felt a difference. I didn’t feel drained all of the time and could tell a difference in my running performance.
The last week of the program, we took a break so to speak so that we would be running on “fresh legs” for our big finale–a 5K race on Saturday. On Monday our plan was to do our normal out and back down the big hill, across the bridge, and up the next hill. We started off like usual and had only gone a short distance when our coach brought us all to a screeching halt. He turned around and told us all, “that was one minute.”
We all chuckled. Wow! I immediately had a flash back to the first day we met and were to run for one minute. What was the hardest thing I had ever done 15 weeks ago, was now a breeze.
On Tuesday night we ran for about a mile, then on Thursday we were to take a short half-mile run. I was frustrated on Thursday that it seemed extremely hard. I couldn’t even run half a mile without taking a break and walking.
Friday morning, I soon found out what my problem was Thursday evening. I had the flu, was running a fever, and felt miserable. Friday afternoon was packet pick up for our race. I had until 7:00 Friday night to pick up my packet. I spent most of the day in the recliner trying to psych myself up enough to pick up my packet. I finally did at the last minute.
Saturday morning, the day of the race, I got up feeling better. However, I knew I was dehydrated from not eating or drinking much of anything the day before. I’m also not a morning or breakfast person, so I got up extra early so I could eat a slice of toast with peanut better and a banana. I knew I needed something for energy. I drank as much water as I thought I could stand. My stomach was still not feeling real well, so I was relying on peppermint oil to help with the nausea.
At the time of the race it was a crisp and sunny 45 degrees. I came to the race with my husband and seven year old. My two adult children got out of bed early and left their spouses at home to come see Mom perform this Herculean feat. One of my workout buddies, Velma, came to run the race with me. I wore my hooded sweatshirt until a few minutes before the race and then handed it off to someone in my family. My two necessities were my headband for my ears and my peppermint oil for my stomach. I was using the peppermint oil liberally, putting it on my wrists and upper lip.
The race started and we were off. I knew the course and had run it several times, so I felt like I was prepared. I knew I could do this. I did well until the last hill. It was always the most difficult for me, and I had only conquered it a few times. I pushed myself as hard as I could and made it about half way up the hill. At that point the nausea took over, so I had to walk the rest of the way up the hill.
Once I had recovered, I ran the rest of the way. It was slow going, but I made it. As I neared the finish line, I could hear my family and the other people in the Couch to 5K group cheering. I was surprised to see some of our neighbors that had showed up after the race started. One of our Couch to 5K coaches, Dana, ran with me during the entire race. I felt bad that she had given up this opportunity to go out and do her best to hang out with a slow poke like me. She had been where I was now a year before, so she was an inspiration to me the whole 15 weeks. As I got closer to the finish line, she hung back and let me take all of the glory. This old, fat couch potato had become an athlete!