Just after my first 5K finish line with my supportive and loving fiancée, Katie.

My First Official 5K: Completed

Just after my first 5K finish line with my supportive and loving fiancée, Katie.

Just after my first 5K finish line with my supportive and loving fiancée, Katie.

It is finished. My first official race is in the books! I’m glad I now have it under my belt. The race itself was tougher than I thought it would be. I didn’t expect for there to be so many people participating in the event. In typical fashion, we arrived thirty minutes before the gun went off, so by the time I found my bib and timing chip, I had to scramble through a sea of people to get to the starting line. I was literally one of the last persons to start.

The course was a lot hillier than I had planned on it being. Having run for only a few days (and on a treadmill at that), I was winded after the first hill (which happened to be the whole first half of the first mile). Instead of finding my pace and feeling good about it, I began thinking about my body and how out of shape I was. I didn’t expect those mental obstacles to present themselves until mile three.

Since I began late, I had to navigate through crowds of people, often opting to use the sidewalk. That also meant alternating between the street and the curb. I don’t think I was able to run straight ahead for any period longer than a quarter of a mile. In future events, I’ll need to be at the starting line super early to eliminate some of those time and energy-wasting obstacles. Lesson learned.

Confession: I didn’t know 5K was actually 3.1 miles until after the race. For some unknown reason, I got it in my head that it was actually only 3 miles, so even during my brief training period I only ran that distance. This 5K was my first time completing 3.1 miles. Ever. That information would have been good to know before I got it in my head that I was going to break 30 minutes.

The best part of the race was the end, when I could see the finish line. There wasn’t a more welcoming sign than that. Not sure where I got the energy, but as soon as I saw the finish, I sprinted home. It was such a great and surreal feeling to walk across and realize that I accomplished something I had never before considered. And it’s just the beginning.

All things considered, I ran my first 5K in 31:27, with a few intermittent 15 second walking periods. When I looked up my time after the race, I was real disappointed. Katie was proud of me, but the only thing I said was, “I didn’t break 30.” Leave it up to me to be the only one who wasn’t entirely proud of the end result. 30 minutes seemed like a great milestone to break. I wanted to prove that I could do it (even knowing that I didn’t truly put in the effort to make it happen). And not reaching that goal didn’t feel good.

It took a conversation with Katie for me to see the bigger picture. I failed to realize that it was only four months ago when I learned that my cancer went into a deep remission. I didn’t give myself credit for being in school, working, not having a whole lot of time to train but making time to do it anyway. I needed to not worry about a number that might have been better had I considered all of the circumstances. I’m thankful for Katie’s perspective. I rely on it often. Another lesson learned.

The good thing about always being in a permanent beta — the state of constant refinement — is that I’m always looking for opportunities to grow. This race provided plenty of those opportunities and I’m thankful for that. Saturday was more than just running and finishing, it was about beginning the journey to achieve the bigger goal of completing a half-marathon. It was about overcoming mental challenges in a physical way, one that unlike cancer, I can control. And for me to get stuck on 30 minutes seemed kind of silly in the end.

This simple 5K also taught me about the futility of being hard on myself. It showed me that I have to learn to let go of unrealistic expectations and confirmed that I’ll reap the effort that I sow. But most importantly, it taught me that I have to enjoy the journey. If I can’t do that, then I’m missing the point.

Overall, I had a great experience and a lot of fun. I’m glad I participated and look forward to my next 3.1 before graduating to a 10K, on my way to a 13.2 miles. I plan on tackling my goal in December, at the Dallas Marathon/Half-Marathon. Looking forward to getting there!

  • Becky

    ……….NO Doubt…….. as you say, enjoy the journey….. it’s the only thing that matters!

  • Julia

    YOU GO BOI!!! Am super proud of you and please be nice to yourself. The first race is always an experience and for future you know what to expect. P.s. you could’ve probably shaved a minute or two off your time if you didn’t start in the way back!!

    • Justin Ozuna

      Thank you, Tulia! I’d like to think I would have done better without the clutter, but oh well. As difficult as it was, I really enjoyed it.