Today was the last day of the C25K program. The goal was to run 3 miles (or 30 minutes).
I know I probably should feel proud. I should feel a sense of accomplishment. After all I ran the 30 minutes. I ran the entire time all three days this week. In fact, I haven’t missed a goal since I began running outside.
The problem is in 30 minutes I covered 2.1 miles. I am insanely slow. 2 miles in 30 minutes means I averaged 15 minute miles. I know my first mile was done in a little over 13 minutes so I obviously get slower as time goes on. I’m not even upset about the fact that I’m so slow. Truly. I do not care. My boyfriend is over there sprinting the goddamn thing and I’m plodding along but my thoughts are pretty much, “Knock yourself out. If you can go from sitting on a couch to running this race in under 20 minutes good for you. I’m proud of you.”
This is the part most people don’t understand when I say, “I only ran 2.1 miles in 30 minutes”: It’s not about me being slow. It’s about the fact that I’m not running a 30 minute race. The officials are not going to say, “Okay everybody. When we give the signal you all start running and run for 30 minutes. Whoever gets the farthest in that period of time wins!”
No, I’m running a 5K. I have to run for 3 miles. 3.2 actually. I’m 1.1 mile short. Which means that despite all of my progress I’m still not at the goal line. Sure, when week 4 came I couldn’t run the 3 minute/5 minute/3 minute/5 minute shit they had me doing. When the end of week 5 came and I was supposed to run for 20 minutes I couldn’t do that either. I’m pretty sure I struggled through all of week 6 when my task was to run 5 minutes/8 minutes/5 minutes, and I know I only managed to run the full 25 minutes on day 3 of week 7.
So I should be somewhat proud of myself that I managed to run the entire 30 minutes. But I’m not. Instead of focusing on, “Woohoo! I ran 30 whole minutes!” I’m focused on the fact that I have another 15 minutes still to go if I want to run this 5K. My race isn’t over. I haven’t gotten from the couch to a 5K. I’ve gone from the couch to about 2/3 of the way through a 5K.
I’ve gotta be honest with you. I’m tired at the end of my 30 minutes. I’m not thinking to myself, “Wow- I feel great! I could go another 10-15 minutes easily.” No, my face is contorted. If you drove past me you would probably see me grimacing; I’m pretty sure I look like I’m dying. I’m usually cussing under my breath, saying things like, “This is going to kill me!” or “I’m dying here!” Motherfucker and sonofabitch are both liberally sprinkled throughout my run. So the idea of adding on even more minutes kinda makes me wanna cry. A lot. Actually the fact that I have come so far and yet still have so much farther to go makes me want to cry. A lot. Seriously.
The other night, and even today, when I finished for a moment I was cheering myself on. “You go, girl! You did it! You ran the entire time. Good for you! Look at that- 30 minutes! You are crushing it!” And then reality sank in. It became, “Oh my God! I’ve got to run another 14-15 minutes! My real goal is to run a 5K. I’ve only ran 2 miles. This is no victory. I still have one mile and 15 more minutes to go.”
Plus, I get to deal with the aches and pains. The entire next day I’m so stiff. Getting up out of my chair is a chore. I deal with the stiffness all day until the following day- when it’s time to run again. On Saturdays, when I run in the morning, I get to deal with the stiffness all day long. Hooray!
The first time I did this program, more than 10 years ago, my running partner and I chose to go for the mileage. If it took us more time than what the program thought it should take us we were fine with that. So those days when the program told us to run 1/4 a mile OR however many minutes, we ran 1/4 mile. And then a half and then 3/4 and then 1 and so on and so forth. This time I tried to go for the distance but ended up settling on the time. Big mistake. Because now I’m at the end only I’m not really at the end. I’ve still got another 1.1 mile to go. And that’s going to take me a long time.
2 miles (or 20 minutes). 2.5 miles (or 25 minutes). 3 miles (or 30 minutes). Those minutes always correspond to a 10 minute mile.
Why on earth someone thought they could take a couch potato and not only get them to run a 5K in 8 weeks but to run that 5K in 10 minute miles is beyond me. But that is apparently the goal as far as the program is concerned. 3 miles or 30 minutes. Or rather, 3 miles in 30 minutes.
Oh, it can be done. The mobster ran over 4 miles in that 30 minute time span. I, on the other hand, ran 2. He’s finished the race and is a third of the way through yet another 5K. He absolutely, positively knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he can run this race and finish it. Because he has. He’s gone the distance. I have not. I’ve gone 2/3 of the distance. Will I need to walk the last mile? Will I even run across the finish line? Who knows? Not me because I haven’t done it.
The mobster likes to point out that I have in fact done it because back when training was sucking big time I got frustrated with myself and forced myself to walk and run the entire 3.2 miles. I don’t count that because I walked. Interestingly enough I’m only projected to be 3 minutes faster running the entire time. Nonetheless, I don’t want to walk this race. If I was satisfied with walking I would enter the race as a walker, not a runner. So we’re back to: Will I be able to do it? The answer is: Maybe.
I’ve still got 3 weeks before the race happens. IF it even happens now with the coronavirus leading to the cancellation of just about everything.
It would be a big jump but I could increase my running time to 35 minutes all next week. Or 33 minutes the first 2 days and 35 the third. Then increase it to 40 minutes the second week (or 38 minutes for 2 days, 40 the last) and finally 45 minutes the last week.
I could also choose to do distance. Right now I’m at 2.1. Next week I could stretch that to 2.5, however long it takes, the week after 2.75 and the third week 3.0.
It’s doable. I know that. I’m still sad that I don’t feel any sense of accomplishment now that it’s done. I’m still not ready to run a 5K. Sure, I’m closer to it than I was 8 weeks ago but I’m not there. It’s not called The Couch to Almost Running a 5K program. I will be running and “training” every single week up until the day of the race just to get to the point where I can run the damn thing. It’s depressing when you do this thing that you should be proud of, but instead you get to the end and realize you’ve got 50% more to do. Hey! You ran 30 minutes. Congratulations! Now you need to run another 15. Good luck! You can’t celebrate because you’re not done.
Perhaps in another 3 weeks I will be celebrating the end of my C25K program. Today I am dejected, defeated, and definitely not looking forward to Monday when I have to add on even more minutes.