It was fun hearing what other people chose; some decided to drink 100oz of water a day for 30 days. Others wrote a food diary and sent it to the trainer for review. A few people picked jumping rope (600-1000 jumps per day), while others did strength exercises like 100 push-ups, 100-situps, or a 100 bridges.
I had no idea what to pick, so I left it up to Kerry and Reinier. Knowing I was going to miss three full weeks of camp due to vacation had me seriously concerned about my progress over the last few months. I would hate to backtrack and lose some of the strength and endurance I had worked so hard for. I also wanted to pick something big but also something that I could easily do in all three states I would soon be visiting. Kerry suggested the 5K-a-day, and it seemed like the perfect fit.
So on June 2, 2013, armed with my arm band, hydration belt, and outdated playlist, I began this strange little odyssey. It started at 4:45am because Vegas summer was upon us and it was 90 degrees by 7 o'clock. I love to run, but running under the blazing sun in three-digit heat? No thanks.
This early morning wake-up lasted for two weeks. My first challenge was resisting the urge to smash my alarm clock into a million tiny pieces every morning. Instead, barely conscious, I donned my running gear and headed to the park. As long as I started running by 5:30, I would make it to the 6am class on time. A few times I was late. A few times I considered running straight to my car and driving home and skipping boot camp. But each time, I thought, it's only for 30 days. Anyone can do anything for 30 days, right?
I missed an early morning run one day and had to do penance on the dreadmill. So, so boring. One morning, I fell while running. That shook me up. Here's a question: if a runner falls in the morning while no one is around, do they still make a sound? The answer is yes, and it sounds a little something like, "Ooooow! Crap! [Bleep!] I just fell. That hurt. Oh, there is no one here to talk to about this. [Bleeping bleep] what was I thinking? What's my pace? Oh, I'm doing good! Okay, I'm not bleeding. [Bleep!] Keep running!"
And in case you are curious, I tripped over a curb. I can't even claim it's a good, exciting injury. It was just me being half-asleep and clumsy.
I'm pretty sure I perfected the ability to sleep and run at the same time. Most mornings, by the time I got to boot camp, I had no memory of the run itself. I had to look at my Map-my-run app to make sure I really did it, and wasn't just dreaming it. Also, my legs adjusted after about three days of soreness. By the end of the 30 days, they felt strong, lean, and capable.
My first real transition happened when we flew to Indiana. I went from running in the early morning hours on smooth, softly-lined asphalt pavement to this:
1.) Vegas streets are very wide. Indiana streets are not. If a car comes, you need to jump in the underbrush. This is not fun.
2.) Those cold Indiana winters create lots of uneven pavement. Potholes, cracks, divots, etc. It's a minefield out there and I was determined to not sprain an ankle. Most days, it looked like I was Prancersizing, not running, due to my zig-zag route.
3.) I'm convinced my mom lives in one of the only hilly parts of Indiana. The whole state is flat as a pancake except the 7-mile radius around her house.
4.) My greatest threats while running: dogs, running around, not in, road kill, and not becoming road kill myself. Crazy UPS driver, I'm looking at you.
The upside of running in Indiana was that I didn't have to wake before the sunrise. The downside was the humidity. For the first three days, my poor little desert lungs felt like someone was pressing a wet washcloth over them. The constant rain didn't help, but at least it cooled things down.
Randomly, I entered a 5K that was being held at the Lake County Fairgrounds. It seemed like an easy way to get my mileage in and it's always more fun to run with other people. So early one Sunday, after pinning my number on and waving to my mom and Scotty, who cheered from the sidelines, I took off through the tree-lined trails. The little voice that chirped in my ear was telling me amazing things; my pace was incredibly fast (for me) and I wasn't feeling the least bit tired. My legs felt great. I stayed behind a woman who seemed like she knew what she was doing and just tried to keep up. In the last .5 miles, I kicked into high gear and really pushed myself over the finish line. I'm not sure who was more excited - my mom or myself - when I saw I had completed the course with an 8:18min/mile. Overall time: just over 27 minutes, making it my fastest 5K ever.
And the best part - I grinned like a fool when they called my name during the awards ceremony . Third place in my age group. My mom cheered and hollered like I had just won an Olympic medal. Aw yeah. Better watch out for those chubby stay-at-home-moms; we may seem like a benign bunch, but we are fleet of feet.
Before I knew it, it was time to head west. The crumbling roads were quickly replaced with...
Brian and Scotty dropped me off at the visitors' center and I bade them a nervous good-bye. This was safe, right? I am not a fan of heights, bridges, earthquakes, or really anything that is potentially unsafe. Choppy water, shark-infested waters, and sharp rocks are also on that list. Hell, I just don't want to get mowed down by a distracted motorist.
But the run was downright magical. Yes, I had to sidestep a few overzealous bikers, but considering the length of the bridge is exactly 1.7 miles, running there and back was a perfect ending. With my music blasting, I tried to soak up every last detail of the experience.
I took the obligatory boot camp photo and send it to Kerry immediately. My grin is so cheesy and my cheeks actually hurt from smiling. I was just so darn happy. This experience is definitely on my top-ten "Best Moments of My Life (So Far) List."
Before I end this, I do want to issue one small warning: if you think running a 5K-a-day will make you skinny, it will not. Eating a clean diet makes you skinny. Kale and chicken and egg whites make you skinny. Running a 5K is great exercise and a lot of fun, but I managed to pack on a whooping 9 pounds over the course of my 3-week vacation. Mind you, I ran every day except two. (Six of the pounds came off easily, I'm still dealing with the other three). I resisted my mother's homemade cherry cobbler for about two days before giving in, and then discovered it was nothing but a gateway dessert for more delicious concoctions, such as pecan oatmeal cookies, s'mores, and a wicked little cookie simply called "the blondie." I have yet to meet a baked good I didn't like, particularly one that comes out of my mom's kitchen. But it was worth it.
I started my next 30-day challenge on July 11; 1,000 jump ropes, 100 sit-ups per day. This is actually easier than it sounds if you break up the exercises into sets of 250 and 25. It can also be done anytime of day (not 5:30am!), indoors or outdoors, and only takes about 15 minutes. I'm a big dork and like to time how quickly I can jump 250x. So far, my best time is 1:51mi. I hope I can beat that over the next few weeks. If you think doing a 30-day challenge would be fun, let me know about it! We can cheer each other on.