Tag Archives: 5k

Sometimes you just have to have a little faith….

Well, this is my update that I was hoping to do on Saturday after the race.  I should really stop thinking that I might actually get to blog 2 days in a row because it’s just not happening, lol. Another reason I’ve held off on writing was because I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around the race on Saturday. If you don’t already know what happened, I’ll fill you in.

The last time I left you, I was preparing for my biggest 5k racing challenge yet. I was feeling more than intimidated after we drove the course the day before and I got my first good look at those hills.  I’ve just recently started kicking in serious hill training days in order to prepare for the Okatoma 5k race in May but this one on Saturday was much worse and much sooner than I’d anticipated. Not sure if you know this but I don’t like hills! 😦 What’s really crazy is that I wasn’t nervous on the morning of the race. I was super tired the night before (read my previous entry to find out why) and I really think, for once, not being amped up helped me. I had given myself permission to go slower if needed…to do worse than I’d ever expected…to not even beat some of the walkers – Ok, I’ll admit I was being a little overly permissive but I really thought I was going to bomb, which is not the way anyone should think when they are trying to do accomplish something. I suppose you could even say that I had come to terms with my poor performance long before the race started. When we got there, it was so nice and cool, which was a huge encouragement for me because I loathe hot weather when I’m running! I had worn my long sleeve 13.1 running shirt and my running skirt but really could have been a lot more comfy in a short sleeve shirt. I’m certain of this because by the time I had hit the first mile I was really wishing I could rip my sleeves off. There was a fair amount of people there for such a small town race but still not nearly as many as the other two in the last couple of weeks.

When we started lining up, I decided to use Jason’s suggestion again and line up near the front. This time, I lined up right beside him and we were very close to the front row. As I looked around, so many of the ladies “looked fast”. If you’ve ever raced, you know what I mean. I always look around and think, “Yep, she knows what she’s doing or he’s got his shirt off and weighs a lot less than me…he’ll run it in less than 20 mins. So, after sizing up my competition, I just prepared for the race to finally begin because I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me.

I had planned on running the first 200 yards a little faster because it wasn’t as hilly and I knew I should use that to my advantage. As I took off from the starting line, most of the front-runners did what they normally do, they left me in their dust but there were still a few folks in front of me that I could have reached out and touched. We made our first turn on to the main road that we would be running on (yes,the one with the killer hills!) and I expected a pack of ladies to pass me but they didn’t. I made it over the first hill and started my descent down. “Now, they’re going to catch me”, I thought to myself because they could gain all the speed they needed once they headed downhill. No one passed me. I kept trudging ahead, the thought of them gaining on me any minute occupied my thoughts as I closely watched my pace. Finally, a younger girl ran by me and continued on ahead and I expected the same thing to keep happening. (Was I being ultra negative that day or what??!!) We turned left off of the main road and continued our run around a school. When I turned, I could see where I had been and where the other ladies were. (I can never bring myself to actually turn around and look behind me during a race, so that’s the only way I was going to check.)  I was in shock and kind of freaking out too. They were far enough behind that I had a safe lead on them but I just kept thinking that I couldn’t slow down because if I did, they’d catch me! What the heck was wrong with me?? Where did this crazy competitor come from? I’ve raced before and I’ve even beaten a few people as we approached the finish line but this…this was a whole new feeling. Going around the school gave me time to recover from the hills we’d been running on just in time to go right back on that road and run them again in the opposite direction. I was so happy to hear my Nike+ lady cheerfully tell me that I only had 1 kilometer left!! I kept a close eye on my pace but never once checked my time. I turned right to make the final loop before turning down the street towards the finish line. It was a little flatter and I was so glad of that! When I got to the turn to head towards the finish, Jason was there waiting to run in with me. I was so glad to see him but I knew what seeing him meant – Run even harder! He was egging me on to run faster and as we approached the time clock, several things happened at once. He started telling me not to slow down (I didn’t realize that I was?), my jaw dropped and I was laughing and nearly crying and then I sped up again. The clock said 29:something…I didn’t even see the other two numbers. Apparently when I saw my time, I nearly stopped completely out of shock. Thank goodness I didn’t! My time on my Ipod said 29:47. This was my 3rd personal record in 3 straight weeks/races. Each time I’ve been equally shocked and excited but never as much as this day. This is the day that changed things for me. This wasn’t a flat course….it was HILLS! Of course, immediately I started thinking it had to be a mistake even though they had clearly measured it out and spray painted the mile markers on the road. I just couldn’t believe it. With such little faith in myself, I’d done something I never expected to do (at least not any time soon).

We began the wait for them to announce the winners. Jason was telling me that he knew I’d placed but I just couldn’t let myself think I had. I’ve never won anything before in a race. (I really have confidence issues when it comes to running, if you haven’t noticed yet…I’ve Got To Work On This!) When they finally got to my age group, the announced 3rd – not me, 2nd – nope, I never thought when they announced 1st it would be me. The words 1st place and Gina Mooney have never been put together. Ever. But this day was different. I’ve had many milestones as a runner in the last year but this was like a dream. I’d imagined it while I was out running many times but never thought of it as a possible reality. I cried more than once that day when I tried to talk about it and, in fact, I did a little while writing this tonight. It may sound silly to some of you but I finally feel like I’m not just a beginner anymore. I feel like I’ve finally moved to the next level and I’m just going to keep on moving forward.

Jason won 1st in his age group too with a time of 21:36, a new personal record for him as well! We both received Olive Garden gift certificates (yum!) as our prize instead of a medal or trophy but I still ended up with one! Jason bought a medal for me that says 1st place to commemorate the first time I ever won a race and yes, I have it hanging up in our room. 🙂

So, that was Saturday’s events in a not so brief re-cap. It was pretty much a red-letter day for me. I missed my hill training tonight because of all the bad weather we had here but I’ll hit it tomorrow evening. We are thinking about racing in the Run for the Roses 5k this Saturday but haven’t decided for sure.

If I learned anything this weekend, it was to have a little more faith in myself and never give up even when it all seems uphill. If you take anything away from my blog today, I hope that you will have the confidence that I should’ve had when I was racing that day, never give up and DON’T SLOW DOWN WHEN YOU GET TO THE FINISH LINE! 🙂


“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.”

1 Corinthians 9:24 ESV



Filed under Running

Slow is the new fast

It’s been a few days since I’ve had a chance to sit down and blog, mainly because things have been pretty busy around here. We had another 5k race on Saturday, March 26 which was the Doctor’s Day Dash (I’ll come back to that in a moment), Sunday was my oldest son’s 17th birthday, dentist and doctor’s appointments abound this week , AND the weather cooled off. ( Yay!! Thank you, Lord!!)

Saturday was the Doctor’s Day Dash at the Longleaf Trace Gateway at USM. There was a pretty large turnout for it, which we expected since it was free, unless you didn’t pre-register and then it was only $5.00 to run or walk in it. I thought it was a really well organized race and the weather, compared to the race the weekend before, was much more tolerable. Even though we had planned to get there early enough to warm up for a few minutes, we were running late. Our warm up ended up being us trekking through the parking lot as quickly as possible to go get our race packets, take them back to the vehicle and go to the bathroom, of course.

The bathroom seemed to be the biggest challenge on this day! The line was a mile long and some brave girls were even sneaking over to the men’s room. The countdown for the race was down to about 2 mins or less and there I stood with about 5 ladies in front of me. Why oh why was I thinking that 5 women could all go to bathroom in 2 mins or less?? Jason finally convinced me to try the men’s bathroom, but, as my luck would have it, it was occupied too by women. I looked back over at the ladies room. With about a minute or less to go before the race started, low and behold the bathroom had cleared out (apparently they had given up on it, as I should have)! I made a mad dash from the bathroom and there was about 20 seconds left before the gun fired. With my heart pounding, I feverishly wiggled my way through the crowd to get closer to the front, stuck my ear buds in and pressed play on my Ipod just in time. That’s not the best way to begin a race, by the way. 🙂

Besides the awful start, I really felt good while I was running, once I finally settled down and was able to get to a good pace. I don’t usually start near the front but gave it a try because Jason had suggested it was much easier than using so much energy passing people at the beginning. He was right!  I felt only a little fatigued around the 2 mile mark but after allowing myself a few seconds to “get it together”, I was ok again and feeling strong. As I approached the finish line, for some reason I had decided my time was going to be slower than usual. I don’t have a clue why I was thinking that…maybe just not getting my hopes up? I hadn’t even looked at my time on my Ipod, just my pace. I was only about 100 meters or less away and I glanced up at the numbers on the clock that I had been dreading to see. I couldn’t believe it. Surely I was hallucinating? I looked over again….it had the number 31 at the beginning!!! Not 32 or 33…Thirty one!! My unofficial time was 31:08. Fastest ever. Now, for you really super fast runners that are reading this, I know you’d probably choke on your sports beans if your time was ever this “slow”. For me….the person that considered getting a tshirt that says, “This is my race pace!”, it was a huge deal! In the race the weekend before, I had set another PR,coming in at 32:04, even though the actual race results were jumbled and it shows me coming in behind Jason at slower times. (He was behind me that day, for once in history, only because he was pushing Zach and Zoe and I’m pretty sure he was still holding back.)

I really thought that it would be awhile before I could surpass my time of 32:04. He kept saying for me to try and start closer to the front and try to aim for 31:59. So, that’s what I did and I couldn’t believe it. I’m so thankful to have Jason to encourage me, give me a high five when we meet each other in passing during our races (He’s always the one on his way back and I’m on my way to the turn around!) and cheer me on at the finish line! Oh, and he set a PR that day too by running it 22:30 *unofficially* AND won 3rd in his age group!!

Overall, it was a really great day. I didn’t win any prizes or medals but sometimes the best prize is accomplishing something that you thought you couldn’t and running into the arms of the people that you love. I did both.


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March 31, 2011 · 3:04 AM

Looking back at one year of Running, Racing and Reaching Goals

***Warning:  If you aren’t a runner or remotely interested in running, this may be the most boring thing you’ve read. Ever. Trust me.***

I was never a runner….that’s what I’ve always said.

I would see people out running and think how nice it would be to be able to do something like that but knew I never would because “I’m just not cut out for running”. I would watch with curiosity while Jason got his gear ready for a race the next morning and could never understand why in the world he had to get up so early to be at a race that started at 8 and was 15 minutes away.  It was, in fact, the most uninteresting thing to me in the world of exercise, mainly because I thought it was this big unattainable feat.

I had tried it before. I’d speed the treadmill up and go from a fast walk to a trot and I’d glare at the time ticking so slowly as I felt my legs burning and my chest tight because I could barely breathe. I’d press the button as fast as I could to slow it down and go back to my fast walk. I’d try it at the track. I would try to run the straight parts but most of the time I could barely make it from one end to the other before I thought I was going to absolutely collapse. “Who would want to do this and why am I even trying??” were a few of my thoughts. I would leave thinking, “I’ll just stick to walking.” and (again) “I’m just not a runner.”

It all started innocently enough last year, a few months after I had Zoe. I had started trying to ease into some type of exercise. I decided that taking some walks on pretty days would be one way to do it and I could bring the kids and push them in the stroller. My oldest daughter came too and on the days that it was too cold, she was sweet enough to offer to watch them while I went for my walk. My first walk consisted of walking to the first rest stop, which seemed far enough to me, and then walking back. If anyone is familiar with this part of the trace in Sumrall, you’ll know that I wasn’t exactly pushing it to the limit….in fact, my heart rate probably didn’t even change but I was trying. My next big venture was to walk all the way to the first car crossing, as I call it, and then go back. After a few times of doing that, I had the craziest thing come over me. I wanted to see if I could mix in just a few seconds of very slow running jogging with my walking. I always assured myself that I didn’t have to do it for long and then I could go back to walking as soon as I felt like I needed to. So that’s what I’d do. I would push the stroller for a little bit and then I’d hand it over to Becka and inform her that I was going to run for a min or two. It was more like 30 seconds or a minute but little by little, things were changing. One day, we got to our turnaround spot and I told her that I was just going to keep going for just a little ways more. Instead of walking, I jogged from that point until I was across the first car crossing, which is a pretty good stretch for a non runner! There was another one coming up. I walked until I got to it and then I jogged it too. I can’t really explain the excitement I felt but it’s kind of like when you’re first learning to ride a bike and you actually stay on it long enough to pedal a few times before you wipe out again. You can actually feel it, get a taste of how it could be if you could just keep pedaling. So, I turned around and did it again and then after that, I walked a little and then jogged until I caught up with the kids. I was exhilarated! Suddenly, I began having thoughts that maybe I could try to do this every time and maybe I could actually start trying to run a little more than I walked. Crazy? Yes. Did I try it? Of course.

Fast forward a few weeks to February 8, 2010. I went alone that day. I had my new Nike+ gadget that goes with my Ipod. I’d only used it a couple of times. The last walk/run I had gone on was a few days before and I’d gone 12k (about 7 miles). There was something on this day (Feb.8) that made me decide I was going to just try to start out running….slowly. As always, I reminded myself that I didn’t have to keep it up if I started feeling bad, so I hit play on my Ipod and away I went. Step after step, my smile seemed to get bigger and bigger although in the back of my mind, I still wondered how far was going to be “far enough” and I’d have to walk. I had set my distance for a 5k. Could I do this? As I clip-clopped along, the lady on my Ipod informed me I had completed 1km. All that I could think about was that I was still running and I wasn’t ready to stop yet. Before I knew it, the little voice from my ear buds cheerfully announced “Halfway point”. Halfway point?? Already?? I was really doing this…slowly…but I was doing it. The only reason I wanted it to be over was so I could call Jason and tell him what I’d just done. Then the countdown began. 400 meters, 300 meters, 200….I was nearly there and I hadn’t stopped once. This was huge. My little lady friend on the Ipod congratulated me for completing my run, it was if I’d finished a marathon. I had tears in my eyes but it was from being so very happy. I took the next day off but could only think of when I could go again and when I did (2 days later) I ran 8k. Looking back, I shouldn’t have kept pushing distance so soon but I was in awe of how my body adjusted and how much better I felt. Seven days later, I ran my first 10k distance and made up my mind then that I was going to run in the Crescent City Classic in April. I think Jason probab thought I’d lost my mind.

My first race ever was on March 19, the Irish-Italian Festival in Hattiesburg. It was more so I could get the feel of how it was to run with other people in a competitive environment because I surely didn’t place. I liked the feeling of a race. I liked the excitement and I really liked being there as a racer, not a spectator.

My first 5k race. Italian Irish 5k March 19,2010

Crescent City Classic was only a couple of weeks away (April 3) and it would be only my 2nd race ever! When the race weekend finally came, I suddenly realized I had a some quirks too when it came time to get ready for the next morning. (I also thoroughly enjoyed eating the great pasta meal that we’re encouraged to eat the night before a big race!!) There were so many people there! Jason had tried to prepare me on how it would be because he had run in it the year before but I really had no clue. I also quickly found out that not everyone lines up in their correct corral. This meant that as I was running along, I’d suddenly have to come to a squealing halt and then dart right or left to avoid plowing into a cluster of ladies that were walking and visiting and pulling a wagon and even sometimes had their arms linked. I caught on fast and began looking for open spots before I had to slam on brakes. I think it’s all just part of being in a race with 20,000 other people, unless your one of the ones on front wearing a white bib, which means you’ll never even realize how many people are in the race because you’ll finish before half of us make it to the half way point. After the first few miles, I settled in and truly enjoyed myself. People were everywhere cheering us on, bands played, some even had their sprinklers on and pointed in our direction (I would run out of my way to go right through them too!). When I crossed the finish line I felt like I was on top of the world. The only thing missing was Jason to give me a hug or a high five….literally, he was missing. I immediately decided he had broken a leg or had a heart attack during the race. Funny enough, he was thinking the same thing about me. Apparently, just a few minutes before I finished, some poor guy had a seizure after he crossed the finish line and they made Jason and others move away. So, he missed seeing me cross, finally went back to wait for me and started getting pretty worried when I never showed up. I was waiting in what I thought was our designated meeting spot but I kept moving around because I kept thinking maybe that wasn’t it after all. It took about an hour but we finally found each other and low and behold neither of us had broken bones or had been hospitalized. It was a great experience and also one of the longest races I figured I’d ever run. Ever. Who are those crazies that run those half and full marathons???  Not me, thank you very much.

Before the Crescent City Classic. April 3,2010

Sometime after Crescent City Classic and before the Okatoma Festival 5k (May 1) I began suffering from what I thought were just shin splints. This was really starting to become a problem with my training and on top of that the weather was warming up. I had never run in pain and I had never run in the heat. Mix those together and things were starting to get ugly. I ran a race in my hometown of Columbia on April 24 with a time of 34:41. By the time I finished the Okatoma race a week later, I thought my leg was literally going to break off. My time was 32:54. I was disappointed, I was hurt (physically) and I was suddenly wondering, again, if I was really  cut out for all of this.

Crossing the finish line in my 2nd 5k race in Columbia. We ran in an absolute monsoon. April 24

Crossing the finish line, Okatoma Festival 5k. May 1st

We decided that maybe I should take some time off for awhile and let me leg heal. I was devastated but knew I had to. It didn’t get any better. It hurt when I ran, walked, when I stood still, even when I tried to sleep it hurt. It was time to go to the doctor. They examined me and x-rayed my leg. The doctor said he was pretty sure that it was a stress fracture but that it wouldn’t show up on an x-ray until it had healed. He advised no running for 6-8 weeks. Wow. We bought an elliptical machine to help me through that time but it was really hard to deal with. Anyone that runs on a regular basis will understand what I’m talking about.

I slowly and nervously started getting back into the swing of things again around the end of July. As I began to get back my confidence and strength, I also started wondering about pushing my distance a little more. I mentioned to Jason that the thought had crossed my mind about attempting a half marathon one day. I believe he looked at me the same way he did when I mentioned running the Crescent City Classic.

We began to look at training plans. It wasn’t long before we knew that he’d be ready long before I would be. Because he was beginning to peak with his training, he decided to run the Orange Beach Half Marathon Nov.30 and I ran the 5k. I still was determined to run one too.

After the race in Orange Beach. It was soooo cold that day!!!! November 30,2010

As I began to bump up my mileage, I started to realize that this might be the kind of running I was meant to do. I could run slower (without feeling the pressure of having to be fast) and because I was running a little slower, I could run and run and run. I loved that I could almost forget that I was even running and could just enjoy myself. I even loved my black toenails!

My black toenails from running. Gross maybe....but for me it means I've been putting in major mileage!

We were looking at either the Rock and Roll Half in New Orleans or the half in Long Beach as possible dates to aim for and finally settled on Long Beach. Ironically, it was their Carnival Association’s first time to have a half marathon so I think it was a good fit for me. I didn’t go to bed the night before until nearly midnight, which wasn’t my plan but Zoe wasn’t ready to go to sleep. So after riding all around the Biloxi Regional Airport a few times, we actually drove down to Long Beach to where the race would be held.  That’s when I realized I was nervous. I had never been nervous for a race (I’d only be in a few).  I’d always been a little excited, a little amped up but not really nervous. The next morning, I had settled down some and was ready for the race to begin. We were able to take some great pictures with the beautiful sunrise as our backdrop. The race began and people shot by me as if we were in a 5k race. It was the hardest thing in the world to make myself stay on pace. I didn’t want everyone, including one very fast speed walking grandmother, to pass me! Lots did though and I just kept going at the pace I knew would see me through until the end. There were NO mile markers and my trusty Nike+ wasn’t exactly giving me an accurate reading but the one thing I did know was that, at some point, we had to turn around and at least I’d loosely know where I was. I really needed to know when I was starting to get close to the end because I wanted to bump my speed up. Something I learned that day was this: When you’re running by the beach on a flat, straight course, you can see where the finish line is for a really long, long time. Finally, I had an idea. There had also been a 5k race that morning and I remembered passing their turnaround point when our race started. I knew that when I finally got there, the finish line was close! Another thing I discovered is that when you aren’t exactly sure where you are, it feels like it goes on forever. Imagine my dismay when my Ipod congratulated me for completing my half marathon and I hadn’t reached the 5k turnaround point I’d been searching so feverishly for! The thrill of the countdown of those last 400 meters kind of lost their appeal when it was obvious I was no where near finishing. Kind of a spirit breaker, to say the least but I decided to just laugh about it. When the little lady came on and said I had gone 1 mile over my goal, I just laughed and said out loud, “Yeah right!” I’m sure the people around me thought I was crazy but hey, aren’t we all just a little, especially when we’re getting ourselves through a long run. Finally, the elusive turnaround appeared and I felt rejuvenated. As I approached the end and could see people waiting, it didn’t matter that my Ipod wasn’t feverishly counting down every step I made. I could see my family! My husband was there. My sister and her family were there and I couldn’t resist swinging close and giving them a high five as I passed by and then smiling big for the camera because I WAS CROSSING THE FINISH LINE! I’ve never gotten any medals in my first year of running so when they gave me my medal, I could have been receiving Olympic gold!  It ended almost how I had imagined many times when I had been training and visualizing the finish line, except I had kind of imagined a better time too, but you do those things when your dreaming big. The best thing was that I had set a goal that I would have never imagined even wanting to do a year before and I did it.

Almost to the finish line! January 30,2011

After the Half in Long Beach. January 30,2011

So, here I am now nearly full circle. It’s been a year and I’m preparing for the Crescent City Classic once again with probably a 5k race a few weeks before. I truly can’t believe how far I’ve come in a year and how many possibilities lie ahead of me. I’ll do another half marathon again and my husband and I have even been throwing around the idea of a marathon at some point…but probably not anytime soon. My vocabulary has evolved and now includes words like speed work, pace, PR, long runs, tempo runs, hill training, etc. I’m now making sure I am always properly hydrated and that I eat plenty of protein. I’ve also learned that all carbs aren’t bad. I’ve learned that with the proper clothes and shoes, a run can be a lot more enjoyable and that while my Ipod/Nike+ is a good guide, it may not be entirely correct. I’ve realized that our bodies will adapt. They love to move and even if they haven’t moved in a long time (I don’t mean just to get up to turn the tv on either), they can if you just give yourself a little time to adjust.

We were designed to be active. If we’d been created to sit on our rear ends constantly, we wouldn’t have leg muscles that have the potential to be so strong!  I’ve always known this but now I believe it because after 5 5k races, 1 10k race, 1 half marathon, 50+lbs lost, 1 year and 386 miles later, I’m living it.

My only advice I have is this:

  • If you are thinking about trying out running for the first time – Take a chance and just try. Don’t give up after the first time or two. Give it a chance, give your body a chance. You can do it!
  • If you’ve just started running in the last month or so – keep going! Don’t decide you hate it if you have a few bad runs because bad runs happen sometimes. Find out what went wrong and correct it for the next time. You’re at the beginning of a whole new world opening up for you.
  • If you’re an old pro at this – Thanks for being an example and giving us new folks someone to aspire to be like. Keep on lacing up and putting in those miles. You don’t know who you might be inspiring.

I was never a runner... I am one now.

1 Corinthians 9:24

Philippians 4:13



Filed under Running