Thursday, 6 September 2012

If you can run 1km, you can run 5km!

Hey there :) I'm writing this from the clouds...literally and metaphorically: I'm writing this on the plane as I fly to Perth for finale as well as actually still feeling like I'm in a cloud of elation (!) from my story from Sunday that I've been wanting to tell you about :)

Just a warning though, this is a long post. Skip through it if you prefer, otherwise I hope you enjoy my story. :)

I have a big list of goals, 2012 goals, 12WBT goals, some are written down and some aren't. One goal that fits into all of those categories was my goal to run 5km without stopping.

A quick background of my running history:
*Insert blank space here*
Hahaa I have practically never run before!  Unless Year 2 school sports day races count. Running is one of those things that has been a dream, something that fit people do, and that I? Well, I don't.

One of my goals for 2012 was to finally learn how to run. I did my first fitness test just as Round 2 started. I did it in the darkness of night, where no-one would be able to see me. I set my stopwatch to time myself for the time trial. I was able to run for 200 metres. That was it. My throat seized up and I couldn't continue. I had to stop and gasped for air while I continued walking the rest of the 1km.

Over Round 2 I kept training and I felt my fitness improve each week. In Week 4 or 8 (I can't remember which), I pushed and pushed during my fitness test and was able to run for 1km without stopping! I was so excited and this night declared myself as a runner :)

Fast forward to Week 12 - my major milestone for this round was to enter the Bridge to Brisbane. This is a 5 or 10km walk or run event. My deep seated wish was to run my first 5km in this event. But during Round 2 I realised that it wouldn't be possible. I had a lot more training to get done before I could run for 5km.
My wrist band
My retail therapy from last week ;)

I was extremely disappointed in myself but had to accept it. Instead, I decided that my Round 3 major milestone would be to run for 5km, and my Round 2 would be to simply enter and complete Bridge to Brisbane.

This was actually a big feat in itself for me- entering a big event like this. For anyone who has read my Brisbane to Gold Coast Coming 7000th story (link here), you'll know that my history with group events were a horrific mix of police escorts and tears. The only other event I've done was the Cool Night Classic, a 3 or 5km walk/run. I did the 3km walk a couple of years ago with work. I struggled to complete this and remember being out of breath and embarrassed crossing the finish line, barely breathing on a mere 3km walk while my work mates ran the 5km.

So I forgave myself for being nervous about the B2B! I actually didn't think about it much in the lead up. Ignorance? Fear? Maybe a bit of both. Finally, the day before, I realised I had to find my race number and start thinking about it.

I told some 12WBT friends about it. I decided that my goal was to just complete it, and if I could get the courage up, to try to run a part of it- I didn't even let myself consider that I would run 1km in it, as I have never run in public and the thought of this sent me into a spin. I decided if I could turn up and walk, I would have won. And if I could dare to run a part of the way, in public, then that would be my bonus. I used a combo & average of my 5km walking pace and my last 1km time trial and decided I would try to do it in under 50min.

Ok! So I had my goals. My 12WBT friends encouraged me and wished me luck. One of them, W, said something that stood out to me. She said "If you can do 1km, then you can do 2km." She said if I can improve on my 1km, even by 200m, then I would be a winner.

I wasn't sure I could run at all in public! But I remembered what she said. On race morning I was nervous, I had my new One Active gear that I splurged on last week, and I put that on as well as layering myself up to give me a bit of confidence not to "jiggle" if I decided that I could run. I wore a bra, 2 Mish crop tips, a T-shirt and my Mish jacket. I didn't care if I overheated, I was held in and that's what mattered! :)

I drove myself to the finish site and caught a shuttle bus to the start line. When I got there I had an hour or so before we started. I needed that time though as I didn't realise we needed safety pins to hold out race numbers to ourselves. Novice mistake! I thought the plastic strips on the numbers were sticky things to stick them to us. Turns out they were our timing chips. Whoops!

So I spent a while in Portside IGA with a few others in the same boat as me, finding out that they'd sold out of safety pins. IGA lent us a stapler and we stood at the cash registers for a while, stapling the numbers to our shirts :)  That didn't work so instead I bought some sewing pins and some girls I met pinned it to me. Random moments!

I was really nervous, I was by myself and seeing the start banner gave me flashbacks of the Brisbane - Gold Coast hooplah ;)

I was disappointed in myself that I was here and hadn't reached my original goals of being able to run it. Many times I considered pulling out, but this was my major milestone - enough said! I lined up with the rest of the 5km walkers. I had entered the slowest category (walking). I didn't want to annoy people by putting myself in a start level that I couldn't maintain.

As we entered the start banner I let myself run, to see how it felt. I wasn't jiggling and I was insignificant in the large crowd of people, so I felt ok to give it a try.

I was slow, I was just jogging, but I was ok. :) I reminded myself of what W had said, to see if I could beat my 1km distance, even by 200m. I decided to give it a go. I kept running and smiled when I saw the 1km banner. I grabbed my camera from where it was safely tucked in my bra (ok, 3 bras!) and took a photo. I ran past it and was still feeling ok.

W's voice came booming into my mind: "If you can do 1km, you can do 2km." I started to consider if I could do this. I imagined how excited I would be to not only double my 1km in one go, but also to tell her.

I had more in the tank so I kept going. I was passing people with every step I different to my past events! :)

I strained my neck to see the 2km banner, but I stayed patient and kept very focused. After a while, I saw it. I was going to make it! Imagine doubling my running distance in one day! I was SO excited that not only did I take a photo of the 2km banner, I FILMED myself crossing this line :)

But I kept going. W's voice was back (dammit W how did you do that??) :) and suddenly I was saying to myself "if I can do 2km, I can do 3km." I started to believe it. Why not? W was right, I could do 2km without realising it, why not 3km? I had my doubts, but I thought wow if I can just get to 2.5km, how amazing would that be. But I was feeling ok and kept going. I thought of nothing around me, I had my headphones in and just kept running. I was so proud of myself. :)

Around this time something happened. Do you know what happened? I'll tell you what happened, a hill happened! A big hill! Where did that come from? No-one told me about this! This almost threw a spanner in my works.

Come on, give me a break, I was managing to actually run on the flat, but a hill was just cruel!

But I tried. I took it easy, I took it very slow and I just kept at it. My breathing started to get out of whack though. I was struggling to breathe and get air, and I was starting to panic and was scared of hyperventilating. I was struggling so much that in my panic state, I considered stopping and calling for help from one of the ambo's I'd seen along the run.

It sounds dramatic but I was really panicked. But I didn't want to stop what I was doing! I was doing so well! I pushed through the panic and the pain and I focused intricately on my breathing. I tried to take long, deep breaths, and kept going. It was hard and I'm proud that I got through that. I reached 3km and was already saying something to myself (can you guess?) "if I can do 3km, I can do 4km." :) (W was going to be so proud!)

I was taking it slow and I was able to keep running...I had no idea how. Around this time I finally started to let myself dare to dream something else...I barely let myself consider it..."what if I could do my 5km goal today?" I squashed the thought each time I pondered it.

I couldn't do 5km! 5km was my end of Round 3 major milestone. I was only able to run 1km before today (well I thought I could only do 1km!) As if I could reach 5km!

But then I spotted a red was the 4km mark. It said that we only had 1km left. I knew then that I could do it. I KNEW that I could run 1km- I had an understanding of the distance. And besides that, I was so close that there was no way I was not going to let myself smash this today. I had come so far (4km in fact) and I knew I could do this.

Focus, pace, breathing, focus, pace, breathing. It was only here that I let myself pick up a cup of water that they were handing out. I had skipped the first couple of water stops so that I wouldn't interrupt my pace.

I grabbed some water here though, partially because I'd always seen people on TV doing it in big runs haha! I didn't walk once though. I grabbed and drank on the run.

As we entered the RNA Showgrounds, I knew I was almost at the finish banner. I was still so focused and kept going. I didn't realise that there was a bit of a 'lap of victory' thing before we reached the end banner. Heaps of people were watching but I kept going. AND I RAN THROUGH THAT FINISH BANNER. There was no police loudspeaker, I wasn't last, and I had run the entire race.

As soon as I stopped running, my body released. I was in pain immediately, it was like I had kept my body so focused for the entire 5km that when I stopped, I let myself relax, and it hurt. I thought I might faint at one point, and I got really emotional too. I was walking through the crowds in a daze, teary and sore, but I was grinning from ear to ear.

I had just smashed both my Round 2 and Round 3 major milestones at once, I didn't think I could do this this day! And I ran in public! I had blown my own expectations way out of the water. :)

I had some breakfast and texted/Facebooked my family and 12WBT friends. I wanted to stay and listen to Vanessa Amarosi who had just started singing onstage but I had to rush off for a busy day starting with Fathers Day lunch, so I started leaving the showgrounds, still walking on air :)

As I walked out, I heard a few beats of Vanessa's next song. Hang on- I couldn't leave now. She was starting to sing "Shine". Ahhhh. It's such an iconic song and I've played it to many times over the years to inspire and celebrate myself.

I walked back and stood under a tree by myself. It was like something from a movie for me. It was like my life was a musical for 5min. As Vanessa sang, I saw the most amazing woman on the running track. She had crutches and a wheelchair type thing and she obviously struggled to walk usually. And here she was, doing the B2B, one very slow step and crutch move at a time. 

Well this just did it for me, I burst into tears :) Me being overwhelmed already and now watching this amazing, gorgeous woman beat her own battles, while the crowd, who didn't know her, cheered her on. All while Vanessa sang Shine as the backing track :) My heart! Hahaa, yes there are tears right now :)

I'm glad I gave myself this moment- it made me realise how many people we're smashing their own goals today, all at very different levels, but all achieving something amazing. There was the winners of the 5 and 10km events that I saw onstage, how amazing are they...there was one my 12WBT friends who beat her PB in the 10km by something like 20 or 30min! There was me, who had just run 5km for the first time ever, and there was the courageous lady with the crutches. And so many people in between. Each person just putting one step in front of the other, 1 metre, 1km at a time.

It was the most amazing day for me and I am still so excited about it. I only started the 12WBT Learn to Run program last week! I had no idea that was in me. It's amazing what your body can do when you believe in yourself, and when you dare to dream and push past your self imposed limitations.

I now have to think up a new major milestone for Round 3! How cool is that :) The only thing I can put this down to is my increased fitness. Just 13 weeks ago I struggled with 200m. I've been working on my fitness, losing weight and getting healthier. And that's all I seemed to have needed. Oh, and the mindset. :)

It just goes to show that if you can dare to dream, that you can do anything. And if you can do 1km, you can not only do 2km, but you can do 5km. You can do anything you dare to, or not dare to, dream. 
Oh, and my finish time was 48:47 and I finished somewhere in the middle. :)  Dare to dream.......

Start banner

1km ran in public!

First glimpse of the 2km banner

Loved this :)

If you can do 3km...

This is where I made my decision

This was cool

The best view of a finish banner I've ever had


  1. Congratulations - what a special achievement. Lovely post, Coco. It's making me think - hmmmmm perhaps I can do a 4 km run in October... Love your work. x

  2. Coco what a terrific post, go you! So inspiring. My friend Jane has sent me the link to this post to have a read. I have just hit the 1km without stopping. OMG the feeling, wow! I even had to go to another gym to see if I could do it again just in case I was suckered in on a treadmill that was calibrated wrong. And I did it again. I don't mind telling you I'm walking about 6 feet tall at the moment! This has only happened this past week for me and I can't tell you how inspiring I find this post of yours. Brilliantly done. I only hope I will get there too. Keep it up.


  3. What a fabulous accomplishment - congratulations. Keep the momentum going; don't forget the feeling!

    Kyla (doing 12wbt)

  4. Me again! I don't know if you realise but I have come back to this blog post a number of times and re-read. I have just blogged tonight and linked up to this post, I hope you don't mind. It's so inspiring.