I Lost to A 10-Year Old Girl

This past weekend, for the first time in 10 years, I ran a race.

I like to think I’m in pretty good shape.  I mean, I do run a fitness website.  So why has it taken me an entire decade to run a race?  Lots of reasons, actually, but two reasons stand out above the rest.

  • I hate running! Seriously.  Not a fan.
  • I’m one of those people blessed/cursed with an overactive metabolism. I try to minimize cardio because it keeps me skinny.

So what the heck got me running this weekend?  Easy: peer pressure, a really good cause, and humility.  Read on.

How I Prepared for the 5K

Honestly, I didn’t, which is a pretty terrible way to prepare for anything.  I spent my past few weeks reading books, watching the Wire on DVD (just started season 3), and playing Modern Warfare.  I still did my normal weight training (3 days a week), but I didn’t do any specific training for this race with running.  I figured 3.2 miles was short enough that I could manage without killing myself.  Actually, I didn’t actually agree to running until about a week before, and you can’t exactly cram for a race like you can cram for a test (my specialty).  So, I woke up on race day having run 3 miles just once in preparation.

How the Race Went

Having never run a scheduled race before (other than cross-country my freshman year of high school), I woke up on race day and had no clue what I was doing: where I needed to go, what I needed to do, what I needed to bring, etc.  Luckily, I was running with a few friends who DID have a clue: my friend Joe (fellow Five Fingers shoe wearer and the strongest mofo I know), his wife Ali (big-time runner, med student, and one of the coolest people I know), and my other friend Kate (who is indirectly responsible for all the bandages on my hands now. Long story).

I woke up around 7:30, ate a bowl of Cheerios and an apple, and then carpooled down to Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves.  While getting weird looks for the gloves on our feet, Joe and I ran some warm-up sprints to get our heart racing and muscles warm.  We headed over to the starting line, about 5 or 6 rows deep, and had some conversations with the people around me about what happened to our shoes.

I then got butterflies in my stomach.  I had forgotten what it felt like to be in a real competition.

Bang! ..and…here…we…GO

The race began, but it didn’t happen like I had expected it to.  Due to the sheer volume of people in front of me, I couldn’t really run.  I had to jog/walk for the first two minutes of the race until the pack thinned out, and then it was another few minutes until Joe and I could really run without interruption.  Note to self: get much closer to the front of the pack for the next race.

Here are the highlights from the race that stick out:

  • Heavy breathing, followed by us passing only the 1-mile mark. Crap, I really am out of shape.
  • Getting passed by a dude running in Vibrams! More about him later.
  • Struggling through a lot of the downhill portions of the race. I haven’t perfected the art of running downhill “barefoot” without slamming my heels into the ground.
  • Surprise and happiness that my feet never really hurt. Woohoo!
  • Watching a kid who is probably 10 beat me by about 10 seconds.

In the end, I finished huffing and puffing with a time of 26:40-something.  Factoring in the few minutes for a slow start, I was actually pretty happy with my time.  Sure that 10 year-old kid beat me, but he was running pretty fast, and I’m out of shape.  I chalked that one up to his youthful exuberance.  Then, I talked to Ali (who had run a 10k earlier) after the race ended:

  • Ali: “I wish I had my camera out!”
  • Steve: “Yeah that would have been cool to get a picture of me crossing the finish line.”
  • Ali: “No not for that. I wanted to take a picture of the 10 year-old girl that finished like 3 minutes ahead of you.”
  • Steve: “Yeah, but at least I can drive myself home.”

Okay, so not only did I lose to a 10 year-old boy by a few seconds…I lost to a 10-year old girl by like 3 minutes.  Oh well, humility is good.  Plus, she probably had homework to do yesterday when I got to sit around and watch football.  I WIN, LITTLE GIRL!

The Other Barefoot Guy

Let me tell you about the other guy wearing Vibrams.  He came jogging up next to me with a HUGE grin on his face, but I didn’t notice until he was right next to me.  This is because he was literally floating down the road.  The best word I could use to describe his running style?

Effortless.

After the race ended, I went over to the dude and talked to him about his experiences running in Vibrams.  He said that two years ago he was running in some New Balance shoes, and he managed to blow out one of them while messing up his ankle.  He switched to Vibrams and never looked back.  Moving forward, I plan to do some more reading on the POSE method of running and find a way to run barefoot more efficiently.  Thanks Vibram dude, for showing me how a veteran barefoot runner takes care of business.

What I Liked About the Race

Although I don’t like running, I’m glad I ran.

  • It was for a good cause – I’ve been volunteering at the Atlanta Children’s Hospital for the past year, and this race raised money for the hospital.  If I’m going to run a race, might as well help some kids while I’m at it.
  • I got to try out the Vibrams - I bought these ninja-gorilla shoes.  I’ve been messing around with them in the gym and on the occasional jog, but I wanted to see how they’d hold up in an actual race.
  • My friend made me –   Everybody talks about how bad peer pressure is.  I think it depends on what they’re pressuring you to do.  If it’s something good like exercising, running a race, robbing a bank, etc., what’s the problem?
  • I wanted to know how out of shape i am – Prior to this race, I had only run 3 miles once in the past decade…and that was two weeks ago.  What better way to test my endurance than by running a race.
  • To say I did it – I guess it’s one more thing to check off a list – run a 5k. Done!
  • Competition – I haven’t competed in anything in a while, and I missed that great feeling of excited nervousness.

What I Hated About Running

I realized what I hate about running: the actual running.  I’m assuming being out of shape didn’t help, but my stomach started to bother me halfway through the race, I was exhausted the entire time, and I just felt like crap for most of it.  Of course, I felt absolutely amazing after the finish, which reminded me my favorite part about running: the end.

I came to the realization that I just don’t get the satisfaction out of running that others do, which is fine (and not really surprising).  Some people get in shape by running.  I am not one of those people.  I get more satisfaction out of lifting heavier and heavier weights.  That’s what makes me happy.  For millions of other people, it’s running.  I’m happy for those people.  Are you one of them?  Do you KNOW if you’re one of them?

How to Run a 5K

Okay, so if you’ve never run before, how the heck do you set out and run a 5K?  You might hate it, you might love it, but you won’t know until you do it.  I wouldn’t recommend following my training regiment of NOTHING.  The best plan I’ve found to prepare for a 5k for desk jockeys is the Couch to 5K Program. This is literally a day by day plan for couch potatoes on how to run a race.

Here are some other tips:

  • Take it slow. Don’t be an idiot like me, go through the plan and actually train for your race.  It doesn’t matter where you start.  It matters that you finish.
  • Sign up for a race, and pay for it ahead of time. If you pay weeks/months in advance, you’ll be more likely to actually kick yourself in the ass and go through with your training.
  • Do it with a friend. I had my friend Joe running alongside me the entire time.  Joe is in better shape than I am, so I spent the majority of the race trying to keep up with him.  Without Joe, I probably would have finished a few minutes slower because I wouldn’t have had somebody to push me past my limits.
  • Compete against yourself. Don’t worry about the people around you.  You will get passed by small children.  It’s humbling and embarrassing, but it will happen.  Or, you won’t even see the small children, because they finished 3 minutes ahead of you.  Just do the best you can. Then, for your next race, do better than you did last time.
  • Run with somebody who knows what they’re doing.  Race day is chaotic.  There are thousands of people running, and if you don’t know where to go it’s easy to get lost.  Go with somebody who has gone through the motions and can help you.

The Future

IMG_0054Does this mean I’ll never run a race again?  Absolutely not.

For whatever reason, I’m a glutton for punishment (which you’d know if you’ve read my Crossfit article).  So, if I decide to run another race, I’m going to do it for a great cause and raise money through Nerd Fitness.  As my friend Matt says on his blog DoGoodedness, humility is free.  If I have to run a 10K dressed as Optimus Prime to raise money for a new kindergarten, sign me up.

Do we have any runners out there? Any tips for first-time 5Kers?  Any suggestions on costume suggestions?  I’m thinking more and more ridiculous based on how much money gets raised.

-Steve

###

photo from: KalerBlind

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  • http://twitter.com/265andfalling Steve

    I think you should run your next race dressed as Sonic the Hedgehog :)

    Congrats on the 5k, I would like to get into races somewhere down the line, once there a little less of me to jiggle around when I run.

  • Jordan P.

    I have ran 1 5k. It was on the 4th of July and 100+ degrees out and I have never been more sore in all of my life. I could not get out of bed the next morning. I don't mean it hurt and I just didn't want to feel the pain getting out of bed. I physically could not get my butt out of bed. And this is when I was 14 years old and in probably better shape than any other time of my life (having to ride a bike everywhere you went because it was the only way to get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time at that age will do that). I took 3rd in my age group, but that was certainly not enough consolation for me to ever want to run a 5k ever again.

  • Jordan P.

    I have ran 1 5k. It was on the 4th of July and 100+ degrees out and I have never been more sore in all of my life. I could not get out of bed the next morning. I don't mean it hurt and I just didn't want to feel the pain getting out of bed. I physically could not get my butt out of bed. And this is when I was 14 years old and in probably better shape than any other time of my life (having to ride a bike everywhere you went because it was the only way to get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time at that age will do that). I took 3rd in my age group, but that was certainly not enough consolation for me to ever want to run a 5k ever again.

  • jgrantmarshall

    I started running (65 pounds ago) with the Couch to 5k program and would definitely recommend it. I have never been a runner, but found that as I progressed on the Cto5K that what I did enjoy was knowing that I was able to now do something that a lot of people could not do. (The same is also true, for me, for CrossFit.)

  • Kate

    My one shout-out on this sight and you can't think of anything better to mention than your lacerated fingers?!? Ouch, Steve. Just, ouch.

    You mentioned competing against yourself, but I have more success competing against others. I told you about that jerk I overheard around mile 1- I knew right then I wanted to finish before him. You pick out certain people just ahead of you and make it your goal to beat them. Before you know it, you've run past 3 or 4 people and you feel so accomplished. Of course, I keep all this competition in my own head; jerk-face at Mile 1 didn't know I had it out for him. But you could always follow Joe's suggestion and come up behind people to whisper, “You're gonna lose to me.” :)

    Nice article, and congrats on your first 5K!

  • Spencer

    I've always found running in a race to be easier than jogging/running solo, especially if it's a big event like the annual 10km Vancouver Sun Run (50,000 or so runners). I find that the momentum and energy of the crowd just sort of pulls you along, kinda like when you draft a big truck on the highway. My first year there were so many times when my body was telling me to stop, but I overcame it thanks to group momentum. Feels good man.

  • NerdFitness

    That would be awesome. “Hey look it's Sonic the Hedgehog! He just got passed by a 8 year old girl on crutches!”

    I wonder how tough it would be to make a sonic costume…

    -NF Steve

  • NerdFitness

    I know that feeling all too well Jordan. My damn competitive spirit won't let me slack, so I push way too hard…and my calves are KILLING me today. In a good way though.

    -NF Steve

  • NerdFitness

    Congrats on losing 65 pounds! That's awesome. Glad to hear that the Cto5K program worked really well for you.

    I have the utmost respect for Crossfitters – you're all crazy!

    -NF Steve

  • NerdFitness

    Ouch? That's the sound I've been making all day trying to type with my fingers taped up. I blame you Kate! (weird, never actually called you Kate before I think).

    I hear you on competing against others. It makes you far more likely to really push yourself beyond your self-imposed limits. Joe's suggestion is awesome, especially if we decide to run the next race dressed as Ninjas.

    -NF Steve

  • http://mooselegs.net m00se

    Don't feel too bad about it. :)

    When I did the half IronMan in Boulder, I got schooled by a 68 year old woman in the run. I think I'll be happy if I can knock an hour off my time next year, though, and keep the full AZ IM time under 13 hours.

    I'm looking forward to your thoughts on POSE. Also, I never heard back from you, but how are you liking the Paleo Diet?

  • http://mooselegs.net m00se

    Sonic FTW! Especially if you can get a friend to run as Tails.

  • JFreedom

    Now now, I wouldn't actually tell someone that I was passing that I was gonna beat 'em.. but I WOULD say “Victory is within my grasp!” as I fist clenched with the voice of Cobra Commander.

    And man did that 10 year old kid make us look slow.. I'm pretty sure he was on the 'roids! Definitely gonna ninja it up next time and stealth-run the entire thing.

  • http://twitter.com/265andfalling Steve

    TWO friends and you can have Tails and Knuckles. WooT!

  • http://www.itdonnedonme.com/ Evan

    I've run one race since high school – the Bay to Breakers, a big crazy local 12k. How big? From the starting gun, until we crossed the starting line, was almost half an hour – and we were in the middle of the pack! How crazy? We spent that half hour dodging flying tortillas.

    My friend and I decided to dress as Luchadores, so we were wearing masks, capes, boots, and… speedos. I heard later that we ended up on that week's episode of a local show cooking show, running in slow motion. Apparently they used our pale, flabby bellies as an example of why you might want to try an organic diet. But hey – we were wearing masks so no one knows it was us!

    Might have to give it a try again next year in the five fingers this time.

  • NerdFitness

    Moose!

    That's freaking hilarious. Oh, I got your email, but I haven't got around
    to responding yet (you DID write a novel). So far the diet has been pretty
    great. Although I'm trying to bulk up a little bit, switching to a Paleo
    Diet made me lose like 12 pounds. Normally this is a bad thing for me, but
    it was all fat, so now I”m down to like 5 or 6% body fat. I stopped
    worrying about how much I weigh, and instead I just try to get stronger each
    day at the gym and let the rest work itself out.

    I'm trying to get enough calories in my diet, so I've added in oatmeal and
    brown rice back into the diet. Other than my weekends, I generally stick to
    the plan and it works for me. I've read “The Paleo Diet for Athletes” and
    it discusses how to eat Paleo while being a distance runner and triathlete.
    If you're considering making the switch, I'd highly recommend reading that
    book.

    I'll email you later on tonight m00se.

    -NF Steve

  • NerdFitness

    You shoulda dressed up as Cobra Commander. Would have been WAY better.

    -Steve

  • NerdFitness

    I know what you mean Spencer, with everybody around you, you either want to keep up with or pass the people in front of you…especially if they're 10 year old girls.

    -Steve

  • NerdFitness

    Hahahahah that's amazing.

    I'm gonna need to come up with some ridiculous costume, sprint across the finish line, and then puke everywhere.

    “A man in a tutu was spotted crossing the finish line and then tossing his lunch all over the place. The little girl who finished 2 minutes ahead of him couldn't help but feel sorry for the man.”

  • Hales

    Hey Stevo, great post! Congrats on your first 5K in 10 years! It was a beautiful day for a race. And thanks (Joe and Kate, too) for coming out to run with me on my birthday! I'd like to add that this was not an easy course–lots of steep hills on hard pavement. I'm quite impressed that you and Joe held up in the ninja shoes!

    I love road races. Having a few races on the calendar always motivates me to run a little harder in my daily workouts. If you sign up for another race and dress up as Optimus or Sonic, I will join you and wear something equally ridiculous.

    I thought you cut your hands trying to empty the hot tub with a guacamole bowl. Just saying.

  • NerdFitness

    I DID cut my hands trying to empty the hot tub with a guacamole bowl, but it
    was Kate's idea to make the hot tub fully operational. Therefore, it's her
    fault.

  • divest

    Pick up your knees while running downhill barefoot, much like running through tires (think football players). That will make you stay on your forefoot, feels weird but it works. Congrats on the 5k and I dig the blog.

  • http://artofmanliness.com/ Brett McKay

    Congrats on the 5K. The last time I did a 5K I had a similar experience. I thought I was in pretty reasonable shape, so I didn't do much to train for it. Man, was that a mistake. I think it took me 30 minutes to finish it. There was this dad of one of my friends who used to be fat and out of shape and he beat me. Apparently he picked up marathon racing a year after I graduated high school.

    Oh, and my nipples were pretty tender after the run.

    I haven't done a 5K since then. I'd like to try again.

  • http://artofmanliness.com/ Brett McKay

    Congrats on the 5K. The last time I did a 5K I had a similar experience. I thought I was in pretty reasonable shape, so I didn't do much to train for it. Man, was that a mistake. I think it took me 30 minutes to finish it. There was this dad of one of my friends who used to be fat and out of shape and he beat me. Apparently he picked up marathon racing a year after I graduated high school.

    Oh, and my nipples were pretty tender after the run.

    I haven't done a 5K since then. I'd like to try again.

  • http://twitter.com/265andfalling Steve

    Hey (NF) Steve-
    What do you use to measure your body fat? Do you use one of them there handheld analyzer things or calipers or whatnot?

    Peace!

  • NerdFitness

    Hey Steve,

    I use one of those cheap body fat calipers. Like 20 bucks. And it works
    just as well as any of those expensive body fat measurers.

    http://www.accumeasurefitness.com/products/fitn

    It works great.

    -NF Steve

  • NerdFitness

    Good call. I never would have thought to do that while running downhill. Instinct would have me guessing long strides…I'll definitely give it a shot next time I'm out for a run in the Vibrams.

    Thanks!

    -steve

  • NerdFitness

    hahaha, Brett I know exactly what you mean. I didn't have the nipple issue which is a plus, but all I can think of when you mentioned that is that episode of the Office (last year) when they scheduled a race around the office and Andy's nips started bleeding profusely. Hilarious, and I'm sure quite painful.

    -NF Steve

  • toddhelmkamp

    Don't feel bad Steve, the same thing happened to me in my first 5k at the end of July. I was second to last, because my buddy had a bad knee and was taking it easy. I barely beat him, and I was uninjured just in terrible shape. And I think the girl that beat us was 12. :)

  • toddhelmkamp

    Don't feel bad Steve, the same thing happened to me in my first 5k at the end of July. I was second to last, because my buddy had a bad knee and was taking it easy. I barely beat him, and I was uninjured just in terrible shape. And I think the girl that beat us was 12. :)

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  • http://joelrunyon.com/two3 Joel Blog Of Impossible Things

    I HATE RUNNING

    At least I thought that. I'm a skinny guy too and up till training for my triathlon I never ran. I find running is just like weights. At first it sucks (you feel weak lifting, you feel like you're gonna puke running) but over time you build up a tolerance and the other day I ran 6 miles without a hitch. SIX! That doesn't sound like a lot but I really never have been much of a runner and that seems like a HUGE accomplishment!

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  • http://fatloss4idiots-diet.net fat loss 4 idiots

    well friend girl attempting a solo sail around … Ahead of her lay more than 2100 miles of ocean!

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  • urmilla deshpande

    I have a 15 year old son who did his 5k in 17:22. He smiled when I told him your time. “not bad,” he says. I finally did your beginner workout today after reading and reading you for weeks… I’m 48, overweight, and managed to do the circuit twice before collapsing in a heap of fat. My skinny child was very supportive, saying “you’ve started, now next year we’ll do a 5K together”. 17:22 I think not, but maybe I can at least finish it. They run 65 miles a week at the peak of season… I’ll be delighted if I can do that many ever! Something to look forward to… 

  • Caitlyn

    I’m 13 and my cross country team and I made it to the Irish championships, we had to run 2.5miles and it was worth it as we are now the 10th top cross country team in all of Ireland. :)

  • http://www.Fitnessofthegods.com/ Fitnessofthegods

    Great post man! I run in vibrams now and they hurt the heels of my feet if I run in them too much, does that ever go away? I run half marathons no problem but when it comes to running that in vibrams, it feels like someone took a baseball bat to the bottoms of my feet the next day, absolute misery. Any tips? I’ve taken down the mileage because I had a minor stress fracture scare (had one before when I was going through Navy SEAL training, and they are NOT fun). Anyways I’ll check back later and maybe some tips will be here!

  • tranpeter

    Running 8:25 min/mi pace is not what I would call being out of shape. If you didn’t train, then I can understand why you felt like crap the entire race. I’m surprised you didn’t puke at the end.

  • tranpeter

    My friend wants me to do a 5K Mud Dash holding an Asian Lion Dance head you see during the Lunar New Year. I told him I’d do it if he’s my tail. He’ll never walk straight again. BTW, those heads are not light.

  • Roy

    If you dont enjoy long distance running then you need to research  Stu Mittleman

    His book will teach you how to run long distances and enjoy it and burn fat….instead of heaving and panting which burns only sugarhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stu_Mittleman
    http://www.amazon.com/Slow-Burn-Faster-Exercising-Slower/dp/0062736744 

  • The_Valkyrie

    I did couch to 5k and it is a amazing program to follow. It does get tough the last few weeks but I just kept pushing myself and was able to complete it.

  • Alec Lewis

    I actually did Dailymile.com and started using runnersworld.com for their training guide. Worked great and I highly suggest for anyone that starts running, to expand from regular 5k’s to fun runs such as the Color Run, Neon Splash Dash, the Glow Run, or if you’re a mid westerner, the Prairie Fire. Personally beating myself every week worked great for me. And my end goal was to be able to out run my best friend who was in boot camp at the time. Great motivation really. 
    i highly suggest using swimming to help your running as well. It will help build resistance and helps you to understand how your body should move properly.

  • Adam Austin

    I think you hit on all the things someone should do when trying out running.  I would add find a good running store that offers free fittings (i.e. they watch you run) for shoes.

    I went from never running more than a mile in my life (at age 29) to training, and running, a full marathon with my wife in six months.  We followed the Non-Runners Marathon Training book.  After a forced break from running (long story) we’re back at it and plan to do a 10K and a half in 2013 and the Disney Marathon in Jan 2014.  Eat right, listen to your body, and keep the goal to finishing the race I think most anyone can go from 0 to 26.2

  • Lauren

    The exact same thing happened to me on my first (and ironically, best) race.  A 9-year-old girl finished just in front of me.  Fortunately for some face-saving, I still placed 3rd (in my age group, haha).  After one year of increasing distance and losing speed and my right knee, I’ve decided running isn’t my thing.  Maybe I’ll take up Tang Soo Do…so I can get my butt kicked by my 7-year-old son!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ChristineYells Christine Parker

    I just finished the Couch to 5k program in January and ran my first 5k in February. I was DEAD LAST out of over 1000 runners (and walkers!) and my time was 53 minutes. I am fat and slow but I don’t even care. Best experience of my life so far. Strangers were cheering and hugging me when I crossed the finish line. It was amazing. :)

  • Samantha

    I am so please to know that I am not the only one that dislikes running. Heavy stuff… bring it.