Friday, 16 August 2013

I signed up for my first 5K this week...

This week one of my co-workers posted an invitation for people in the firm to join the company team for the Run for the Cure, a race to raise funds to combat breast cancer. 

Most years I would receive this invitation and I would politely decline, but I would sponsor my friends on the team with donations.  It's always easier to pay someone else to do something than to do it yourself, after all.  Pay someone to run for me?  Perfect!

And let's face it - - most years I would not have been able to participate even if I had wanted to - - my body could not handle walking 50 metres, let alone 5,000 metres.  My office is about 550 metres from my apartment (3 short city blocks), and at my heaviest I could not walk that distance without stopping at least once to stretch out my back.  My back muscles would seize up before I had even gone a block, causing me to limp and one of my legs to drag.  Attractive, I know.

But that was before I began working out.  It has been a long time now that I have been able to handle the walk to work with ease, and walking is now part of my regular routine.  I assume that I can walk places, and so I do.  Go to the mall?  No problem.  It's faster, cheaper, and less hassle to walk (as compared to taking the subway one or two stops).  I love the fact that I no longer do frantic calculations in my head to figure out what is the closest I can take transit or a car to a particular place - - if it's nearby, I'll just walk.  No math required.

As for longer distances, I vividly recall planning for a 1.7 km walk from a restaurant to a friend's house last August.  I was easily able to handle the walk, but it was my first significant walk of any measurable distance, and I had been worried that I would not be able to keep up with the others who were walking with us.  I had to talk myself into going, and reassuring myself by telling myself that I could easily handle 550 metres, so I could certainly handle 1,700 metres.  As it happened, not only was I able to keep up, I was not the slowest, which was eye opening for me. 

From that time I have walked increasing distances, to the point where the Nerd and I have repeatedly done 6 mile walks around town.  5 km no longer scares me - - I look at it as a fun challenge.  Walk for an hour?  No problem! 

So this invitation to participate on the firm team for the Run to end Breast Cancer came at an opportune time.  I am fitter than I have been in more than a decade, I am not embarrassed to be seen out in the streets wearing my workout gear (thank you Old Navy Compression leggings!), and I even own a pair of proper running shoes for the first time in my life. 

The walk route is very pretty, too, which is a bonus.  It starts right around the legislature buildings, south around Queens Park, then back up past the University of Toronto campus which has some beautiful old buildings, then up to Bloor Street and across to St. George and down to College Street to Kings College Circle.  Interesting trivia, the course takes me past my law school, my MBA school, and Convocation Hall, where I attended the convocations for each of my graduate degrees. 

The only real question is whether I will walk the course, or whether I will run it.  I can already walk it comfortably, so no incremental training is required.  I have never run as an adult, though, so if I want to run the course I should probably do a C25K program.  I have heard so many people rave about running, but I also have the world's most terrible knees, and I have real concerns about their ability to handle the pounding of running to any significant extent.  After all, most people my age are winding down their running careers because their knees are shot - - it's hardly the time to pick up running. 

But I really want to run the course.  The main reason is that I get done faster, and to my mind, 30 minutes of exercise is better than 60 minutes, any day.  Yes, I am exactly that lazy (!)  Maybe it will be OK to do one little 5K.  I'm sure my knees could handle that, decrepit though they are. 

The other reason I want to run the course is that my friends who will be on the same team will mostly be running, and I want to keep up with them.  If I walk, I will be walking alone (yes, alone with thousands of other Torontonians), which strikes me as less fun somehow. 

I don't know which way I am going to jump yet, but I am registered, so there's no turning back now.  Wish me luck!  (well, wish me luck eventually, because the race is not until the week before Canadian Thanksgiving)


  1. Strictly from the viewpoint of the "decrepit" knees, and as someone who has such knees: you'd have to start with short runs or, as you said, the C25K and see how the knees react. The other thing to remember is that running outdoors on pavement and training indoors on a treadmill are vastly different in terms of surface and how your knees will react. I can run on a treadmill (although 7 consecutive minutes is my all-time max so far), which is softer, and STILL my knees complain bitterly to me for 2-3 days afterward.

    You could train for it and do half run, half walk, too. (Just don't call it wogging. Please.)That way it would still take under an hour.

    Either way: it is tremendous that you've reached this stage in your fitness quest! To have gone from hobbling 600 metres to thinking nothing of walking 6 miles? Truly an achievement to be proud of.


  2. Awesome. Simply awesome. Whether you walk or run or do a bit of both, what an achievement.