This past Saturday, I ran my first 5K! If you would have told me five weeks ago that I would run a 5K, I would have laughed in your face. I never thought I would be able to do something like that. So how did I get from a couch potato to a runner in a month? Well, it all started with the CFOT World Missions fundraising committees.
Each cadet at CFOT joins a fundraising committee to help raise the college’s goal for World Missions. There are sign up sheets posted and you just need to be quick enough to get the committee you want. I had no idea of what committee I wanted to sign up for until I saw the sign up sheets. The one I had hoped to be on, the movie committee, was already filled up (of course). I began to look at all the other committees and none of them really sparked my interest. As I scanned the pages, I found one committee that I thought might be somewhat interesting: the running events committee. I actually thought the idea of me being on the running events committee was quite a funny joke. So here I was, joining the committee that would be putting on what would soon be my first 5K.
To be honest, I had no intention of actually participating in any of the running events. I would gladly stand at the sidelines and watch and help organize it, but I did not plan to actually run or walk any of the events. That was my thought until I saw a post on our internal bulletin board about a 5K training group that was going to begin. Little to no running experience was needed and it would prepare you to run a 5K in just four weeks. I kind of thought it was too good to be true, but I was wrong. I think the only downside was how early the group met during the week, but even that was not too bad.
I signed up for this running group and showed up to the first run by the lakefront with shorts, a hoodie, and my $16 worn-out Payless shoes. Our first interval that we ran was 2 minutes running followed by 2 minutes of walking. We would alternate between these for about a total distance of 3 miles. I thought this first run was going to be my last. This basic interval seemed so strenuous that I thought I would never be able to do the 5K, but I decided not to give up. I came to the next training and we changed the interval just slightly – either adding an additional minute of running or taking off a minute of walking in between running intervals. As we progressed through the training sessions, I found each one to be difficult, but not impossible. I often felt awful during the runs, but I kept pressing on and would often feel great later that day. I wound up trading in my hoodie for some running gear and replacing the worn-out tennis shoes with some bright-orange running shoes.
Since I began training for the 5K, I’ve really begun to enjoy running. I’ve found that with practice and determination, goals can be achieved. Saturday was race day and it was bitterly cold outside. I was at the lakefront early to get the half-way point and the start/finish line set up. We began the 5K around 10:15 AM and the start went well. I felt that I had more energy that morning than I ever did during our training sessions. I had two goals in mind when I ran the 5K: 1) finish, and 2) finish under 40 minutes. I used an app to calculate my time and distance and I even received an alert when my mom cheered for me through Facebook. Reaching the half-way point, I was pretty tired. I ran almost the entire first half with only a short walk during part of that half. I took a couple minutes to rest and re-hydrate at the half-way point. The most difficult part was the next mile. Heading back towards the finish line, the wind was against my face which made it almost impossible to maintain a good running pace. At one point, I gave up running until the wind was settled down by the trees. After the wind died down, I did a few running and walking intervals while keeping track of my time so I would finish under 40 minutes.
One of the sort of “markers” that I will always remember along the lakefront trail is seeing Temple Shalom across Lake Shore Drive. This always reminded me that I was almost there. I try to make it a point to make that a reminder to pray for the Jewish people and that they may come to know the salvation made possible through Jesus Christ. When I saw Temple Shalom, I knew I was almost there and decided, tired as I was, that I would run the remainder of the 5K. I found at that moment that I had more energy than ever and easily made the last stretch. As I approached the finish line, I took off my armband with my phone so I would get my exact time. As I pressed the finish button, I was excited to see that I finished in 38 minutes and 57 seconds! For some runners, that may not seem impressive for a 5K, but I was satisfied! I met both the goals that I set!
So, now that I’ve finished my first 5K, what’s next? Well, I don’t plan to give up now. Since I’ve invested in this, I intend to keep running. There are two more 5Ks that the College for Officer Training will be putting on this academic year and I plan to run in both of them. Another race I would like to start preparing for is the Soldier Field 10 Mile race in May. This seems extravagant at this point, but just four weeks ago, I thought running over three miles would be impossible. I have plenty of time to train and prepare.
I want to say thank you to all of you who have been supporting me during this experience. Thank you to Captain Catherine Fitzgerald for training me and the other cadets. Thank you to my running buddies who put up with me always being the last one running. Thank you to my parents for supporting me through this.