Over the last few months, I’ve gone from your typical gym rat to a dedicated runner; here’s how I did it.
Fitness has always been a big part of my life, but competing in a race was never something that crossed my mind. That all changed when my friend Quinton challenged me to run the Passavant-Gatorade 5K this past summer.
Since the goal was to keep up with Quinton, I decided to put in some serious miles leading up to the race. My first couple of 5K runs were fine by most standards, in the 25 minute range, but I knew I needed to improve.
To spark some extra motivation, I began texting both my brother Matthew, a two-time New York Marathon finisher, and also Jacksonville native Justin Francis, who ran over 100 miles in the month of August.
It may not seem like much, but their words of encouragement kept me going, especially on the days I was tired and the weather was wet and windy. After a few weeks of training, I started to see a noticeable increase in my stamina and faster splits, which boosted my confidence heading into the Passavant-Gatorade 5K.
The big crowd must have given me a shot of adrenaline to start the race, because I shot off like a cannon, completely abandoning the pace I planned out. Traveling down Walnut and Westgate was a complete blur and by the time I reached Eisenhower School I was exhausted. Before I knew it, Quinton had caught up to me and his footsteps were just as loud as the music playing in my headphones (mostly Drake, if you were curious).
For the rest of the race, Quinton and I matched each other step for step. The thrill of competition and bragging rights pushed us harder than normal. Slowly but surely we began passing fellow racers and once we saw the finish line we emptied the tanks!
Maybe it was my longer legs, maybe it was all my practice or maybe it was just my day … but I held off Quinton by a few seconds in the battle of friends. Really, it was a win for both of us, because we finished in the top 10 racers and logged personal 5K best times, 21:02 and 21:05.
Since my 5K debut, I’ve just felt like running. Last month I logged 41 total miles and entered my second race, the 3C5K in Jacksonville. The best part of the race was running alongside Justin, who set a personal best 5K time, despite the freezing weather and snow flurries.
I guess my point of this article is that everyone should find something that pushes them beyond their limits. For me, that was running. I can’t believe what I was missing out on and how far I’ve come in just a few months!
The first couple days of running were the hardest, but I’m glad I stuck with it. Each week I challenge myself to run a little longer and faster, with the hopes of entering a half marathon in 2018.
There are plenty of 5K’s going on in the Jacksonville area and an unlimited of places to get out and run. Start with a mile and go from there. Call some friends to join you in your new hobby. Before you know it you will be cranking out miles like a champ! Hope to see you at the finish line of a local race in the near future!
I’m always looking for secret spots in Jacksonville or exciting adventures in the area to review for future columns. Message Ryne Turke or The Source on Facebook if you have any ideas!