My first 10k journey

by Martha McSims

I am a strong believer that life is a journey. I also believe that we need to enjoy life everyday because life is short. I feel the same about running. Running is definitely a journey, and I know as runners we enjoy it every time we lace up our shoes. I can think of no other reason we would run in the snow, rain, wind, heat, and freezing temperatures if we didn’t love it. The best thing that I have learned from our club and other runners is the way we support and respect each other. Each of us is on our own individual journey and I am truly grateful for the runners who supported me through my first 10K journey.

I have been a consistent and dedicated runner since August 2016. I had a few 5K’s under my belt, but I was ready for bigger challenge- the 10k. I had never run 6.2 miles before and I needed to make sure I trained for it, but I didn’t know how to train for a 10K on my own. I researched training programs online, but it was so overwhelming. There are so many, and which one do I choose? I started to ask around and I signed up for Joe Bails 10K training program, which was a 10 week program targeted for the Christie Clinic 10K.

We met on Saturdays at 7 a.m. for our long runs, then he gave us a chart of what to do the rest of the week. Every Saturday morning I woke up at 3 a.m., so I could have all my clients walked to make training on time. The weather was different every Saturday morning, but I was determined. Ironically, the Saturdays in February were the best running mornings. We increased our mileage every week, along with running hills and running on the track. As a new runner, I learned a lot from this program. I didn’t realize how important running hills and running on the track were, but they were very beneficial to my 10K training.

The proudest moment of training was during spring break week. As a professional pet sitter, spring break is one of the busiest weeks of the year for me. I somehow managed my time and I didn’t skip any training miles. No matter how tired I was from walking dogs all day, I ran.

The best moment of training was when we ran the entire 10K course two weeks before the race. I couldn’t believe I ran a little over six miles, and it went really well. I really hadn’t set a goal for the 10K because I had nothing to compare it to. After realizing I could do this, I set my goal to finish in an hour and twenty minutes.

The funniest moment of training was when one of my clients ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich the same day I was running the entire 10K course. I always eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich an hour before I run. I was running a little behind that morning, so I was going to eat my sandwich when I walked my client. I put my sandwich down to grab the leash, I turned around and my sandwich was gone. I couldn’t believe it and it worried me a bit because as a runner I have adapted to my routine and I wanted to run well. Luckily, I did have a little breakfast that morning. As previously stated, the run went really well. It was a stressful moment for me at the time, but it is funny to me now.

I was pretty nervous the morning of the race. I had put in all this training and I just wanted to run a good race. The race was totally awesome. I tried to imagine how crossing the finish line was going to be before the race and it was better than I ever imagined. It was amazing to cross the line with my running buddy Sara. We have been on this 10K journey together since day one. We met while running and she has become a very close friend. I also knew when I came into the stadium that my Mom and Aunt were watching me. I was so very happy they were there, and it made crossing the finish line even more special. After crossing the finish line, I was honored and proud to watch my wife Tammy cross the finish line and it was so memorable. She had been ailing with a knee injury the entire 10K training. The week of the race, she didn’t know if she was going to be able to run. She persisted and finished the race within her time goal. Hugging her after she crossed the finish line is one of my favorite moments. We may not run the same pace, but I love that we do this together.

The Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon weekend is one of my favorite weekends of the year. I ran my very first 5K there and I absolutely love the volunteering! It’s so inspirational, and this year was even more special to me, because I ran my very first 10K.

Looking back on the entire journey starting with the training, meeting some really incredible people, crossing the finish line, and beating my timed goal, I could not be happier with how my first 10K journey played out. I will cherish it forever. The whole experience has inspired me to keep running and to enjoy this new and important part of my life.

Always remember that no matter what kind of runner you are, or what your goals are, to always enjoy your journey.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of In Passing.