Who knew, that in the span of just a couple of months, I’d actually begin to ENJOY running? What are these shenanigans? In the beginning of January, I started a Couch-to-5K program. On February 12th, Chuck & I ran our very first race — the SkirtChaser 5K in Tempe, Arizona.

Our times weren’t spectacular, but neither of us were runners prior to this year. The SkirtChaser 5K has the girls starting first as a head start, and then the guys get to start three minutes later. It was an “out and back” course, and Chuck caught up to me just on the other side of the halfway point. Then we ran the rest of the race together. My time was 38:47 and Chuck was about 35:45.

Three lessons I learned from my very first race (that I will probably look back at and laugh about down the road):

1) Posture Counts. I got very tired for that last mile or so, and had my head down and shuffled along with a slow, lame jog. The next day, I found that I had pulled most of my back muscles from that unnatural, heads-down posture. Ever since that run, I’m running heads-up these days.

2) Liquid is Good. I learned that I get dry mouth during a race. An aid station with a few sips of Gatorade at the 1.6 mile point wasn’t enough. Next race? Definitely getting a FuelBelt.

3) Don’t Be a Hero – Walk. I’m no natural-born Tarahumara runner. I’m turtle-slow, and I have to work at it. I’ve been training with the Jeff Galloway run-walk method. But for that race, I wanted to RUN! And as a result, because I didn’t walk at all for the first 8 minutes, I was spent for the last half of the race and quite sore the next day. Had I used the proper run/walk intervals, my time probably would have been faster and my recovery better as well. Live and learn — that’s what life’s about mostly, isn’t it?

Training with the run/walk method, I’ve been trying all kinds of intervals on the same 2.01 mile course during my weekday runs. Last night I tried a 30/35 (walk 30 seconds, run 35 seconds) instead of a 2 min run / 1 min walk. I was shocked to find that I ran a full MINUTE FASTER average pace than my best workout time from before! My run periods were coming down into 8 and 9 minute miles, and my average pace went from a 12:20 down to an 11:32!

We’re at the point where we’re starting to do long runs (long for us being six miles) on the weekends, and then over the next few months, work up to that 13.1 mile half-marathon we have in September at Disneyland. Two months ago, the thought of me running the Disneyland Half-Marathon was ridiculous. Now, I can see it happening. I even wonder if I’ll do a full marathon one day!