See Jane Run

It was cool out when my alarm rang at 5:20 Saturday morning.  My race didn’t start til 8:30, but runners had been instructed to arrive by 7.  So just after the sun rose John and I were off with our youngest two kids in tow.  I’d had coffee and a little bit of rice for breakfast– that was the only thing that sounded safe that early.  I opted to wear my running dress because it is sleeveless, stays in place, and has 2 back waist pockets that are big enough for my phone and my Zune.  Over top of the dress I had my race shirt and my jacket, both of which I intended to pull off before the race.  But when we got to the park where the race would be run, I was glad for the layers.  It was in the 50’s and felt pretty darned cold.

We’d gotten there right at 7, and I already had my bib number on my front and my timing chip velcroed onto my ankle.  So there wasn’t really anything we needed to do.  A gal with a microphone was pep-talking the mob of milling ladies, and promising 80’s style aerobics for warm-up in a few minutes.  John and the girls and I wandered through the expo booths, then took the girls over to the park to play for awhile. Soon the girls had found some other kids AND a squirrel, which they were all soon chasing from tree to tree in the play area.  The squirrel looked amused. So were we.

After a little while we headed closer to the starting line and spotted my friends Shana and Nichole. I’d done one training run with them a couple weeks ago, so it was fun they were also running this race.  I was sure they’d finish ahead of me, but at least we’d be starting together.

We could tell it was almost race time when the lines for the bathroom got scary-long.    The half-marathoners were sent off at 8.  We who were running the 5K still had half an hour to wait. My timing chip was feeling tight around my ankle, so I took it off and wound the velcro strap around and around my shoelaces instead.  That felt better. I wasn’t really nervous, just excited to get going.  I’ve been running miles lately in 10-11 minutes, and I had a plan in my head.  I didn’t want to go out too fast, so I was aiming for an 11-minute first mile, and was hoping to do the second and third miles a bit faster, with a minute of walking at the one-mile and two-mile marks.  I literally had never run more than 3 miles.   But I’d google-mapped it and knew t was just across a bridge and down a little hill.   Hopefully it wouldn’t be too bad.

Shana, Nichole, and I optimistically put ourselves towards the front of the pack– behind probably only 50 people or so.  I crossed the starting line 13 seconds or so after the gun sounded.  The first part of the run was easy, easy.  I had my music in my ears, settled easily into a comfortable pace, and it felt like the crowd was just carrying me along. Nichole moved ahead immediately.

The pace felt so easy that I was tempted to try to speed up and run with Shana when she passed me.   But I knew the adrenaline was carrying me now, and also that she has been running a lot longer than I have.  I settled for following a bit behind her.  It was comforting to see her turquoise shirt moving along, still in my sight.  Around the half-mile mark it looked like I was running a bit faster than I’d planned, so I tried to take it just a bit easier.   I’m kind of kicking myself now, but I was really afraid of going out too fast and then crashing at the tail end of the race.

Around the 3/4 mile mark John and the little girls were waiting to cheer me on.  It was fun to see them and to high-five the little girls while I was still feeling fresh and strong.  There was a woman panting like a steam engine next to me for awhile near the one mile mark, and I was glad I wasn’t that whipped already.

At the one-mile mark my watch read 10:43.  Good.  I made myself walk for a minute, as planned, though I was still doing fine, then got back into a steady pace.   The second mile went well too.  I could see Shana ahead, pulling a little away from me, but not crazy-far.  I passed lots of walkers.  It looked like several other runners were doing what I was doing– taking short walk breaks, then running again.

At the far end of the loop, we went over a bridge across the Boise River, which meant running up a pretty steep ramp.   I attacked the hill with a little extra speed, still feeling strong.  Google-map said that the 2-mile mark was just past this bridge, but there was no sign on the race course.   I kept running until I was sure I must be a bit past the 2 mile mark, then walked a minute, which felt good.   I was getting tired, but plowed back into running quickly.

When I saw the little white church on the edge of the BSU campus I was glad. Now  I knew exactly how much further it was, which felt good mentally.  I was going to make it just fine.  I decided to see if I could close the gap between Shana and me a little.  I could still see her less than a quarter mile ahead, so I picked out a person to pass right in front of me, then another, then another.  One gal obviously didn’t want to be passed– she sped up when I tried to come around, so we ran side by side for awhile.

The 3 mile mark was just before the ‘Friendship’ bridge crossing from the BSU campus back over the Boise River to Julia Davis Park.  Now I was almost to the finish line.  Twenty feet from the bridge, I saw Shana run off the far end of the bridge– she was so close. On my end of the bridge a race volunteer cheered me on. I fist-pumped and cheered back with a smile– then hit the incline on the bridge and instantly wanted the breath I’d wasted cheering.  I plowed up the bridge feeling lead-legged.

Down the other side of the bridge I got a little faster, and tried to keep that speed going on the flat at last bit of the race course.  Somehow I made it past the woman who hadn’t wanted to be passed a bit earlier, but I barely noticed it, being intent on the finish line. I glanced at my watch and saw I was over 34 minutes.  Ah well.  Close to my goal time, anyway. I saw John and the girls at the last corner and waved, then lengthened my stride to make my best sprint attempt.  (Not sure if I got much faster in the end, but I had sore arm muscles the next day, so I know I at least was pumping my arms.)

Across the finish line a volunteer put a medal around my neck, and another collected my race chip.   I knelt down to help get the chip off, and then felt like it was a big effort to get back to a standing position. That made me glad– I wanted my legs to be good and tired. My official finish time was 34:32, just half a minute slower than my goal of 34 minutes.   I was already second-guessing my decision to let Shana get ahead of me at the start of the race though.  She’d finished less than a minute ahead of me.  I think with a little more effort I might have been able to stay with her the whole race.  Maybe.

Shana and I walked off the course together, looking for water and our families.  Then it was off to collect our champagne glasses and chocolate, a fun perk of the race.  The glasses had rims that were dipped in chocolate, which my 9 year old was delighted to take care of for me.  The little girls were also delighted to help me with my post-race goodies: bagels and bananas and Luna bars and fruit leather.  We stood under the trees talking and visiting for awhile as other 5K finishers came through.  The first half-marathoner came through in 1:23, which meant she’d average 6.5 minute miles– for 13 miles!  Yikes.  I idly wondered if I’d ever be inspired to try that distance.  Hard to imagine at the moment, considering the level of intimidation I’d felt today over 3.1  Next time I will push a little harder, but all in all I think it was a good attempt at a first 5K.  I made it– hooray!

PS– My time put me 18th  out of 66 runners in my age group.  🙂



  1. Congratulations! I am hoping to one day be where I can run a 5K. We will see how that goes. 😉 So glad you had a good time and a finish so close to your goal!

  2. katherine says:

    way to go!! i knew you could do it 🙂 and,in my book, anything under 34:59 counts as hitting your goal. that’s how the big leagues count it with things like qualifying for the boston marathon and the like — if the goal is 34 mins, 34:59 and better meets the goal!

    hope you’re still feeling good today! keep up the great work 🙂

  3. Chi_Running says:

    Congrats!!! You are doing great! I found this running concept a while back mainly looking for something that reduces injuries, etc. It is a run natural concept basically. This YouTube is a good illustration of the principals of Chi Running. I thought you might be interested in learning more. Good luck in your races!

    PS I am in love with your Family Meals $75 cookbook. Thank you for helping this non-cook love it more. =)

  4. I just started training a little harder to run my first 5k in September. I can’t wait. The run this morning was 14 minute miles but we logged 3.1 miles.
    Someone bought me real running clothes for my birthday and I am really excited about that too.
    Keep up the good work.

  5. Good job! Keep up the good work. Keep a half as a goal. You can so do it! Once you do a half you will never want to look back.;) I just did my first half and it was so much fun.

  6. Good for you!

  7. You have made such progress!! I have always enjoyed your running posts so much, and always check to see if there is a new one!
    I still hope to make a runner of myself…seem to always have obstacles get in my way.
    I haven’t made nearly the progress you have, but I’m not giving up. Thanks for setting such a great example for us Moms!!

  8. Congratulations, good job! I’m currently 27 along with my second, wondering if and when I’ll run again… but then again if you can do it with all your kids, surely I must be able to find some time somewhere down the line.

  9. Congratulations on a good race!

  10. Good job, Mary!

  11. 18th of 66 is awesome! Congrats!

  12. Hopefulmom says:


  13. That is awesome! Good job!! 🙂 My husband just did our city’s, Mayor’s Half Marathon (Anchorage, Alaska) this last weekend! 🙂

    You may already know about this – but there an app for your phone (both iphone & androids) that my husband uses when he runs… it’s called RunKeeper and it keeps track of the duration of your run, mileage ran, calories you’ve burned, average pace, average speed, elevation climb of your run and then keeps a log for you that you can return to over and over. It’s very cool. You might want to look into!! 🙂

    Keep up the awesome work!! 🙂


  14. maostyn says:

    Bravo Mary! I hope you re feeling as well as you look, strong, fit and glowing. A great example for your girls and this granny also.

  15. I know this is a little late, but congrats on a great job!

  16. GREAT job!!!!!

  17. Yeah Mary!!!! Good job! Congrats on running a good race and having fun! As for the 1/2…You can do it!!!!! Go for it!

  18. Janet Watson says:

    I am a new reader of your blog. Loved reading two articles of running. I need the encouragement. And thanks so much for your uplifting suggestions. I can tell I will enjoy your posts. My daughter and yours have become friends at college. Thank you. Janet