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Tri Challenge: I ran my first 10K at 58
July 11th, 2011
04:12 PM ET

Tri Challenge: I ran my first 10K at 58

Since January, six iReporters have been training in the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. We’re following along as they prepare to compete alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the August 7 Nautica NYC Triathlon.

One year ago on July 4, I could not run for 90 seconds without being exhausted. This year on July 4, I ran my first 10K: the 42nd annual Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta. The operative word here is *ran.* I actually ran the entire course without any walking! I was exactly 58 1/2.

It had been my goal to do that, but knowing that the course was hilly (one section is affectionately billed as “Cardiac Hill”), I was not at all sure that it would happen. Not only was it going to be a hilly course; the heat was oppressive. Last year’s starting temp was 66 degrees; this year’s was 73, with sock-soaking humidity.

Last July 4 was quite different, however, and that has everything to do with why I am here today.

I had abandoned league tennis about six months earlier to focus on volunteer work for area rivers, and one day it hit me that I was not getting any exercise whatsoever. My body was showing and feeling it, so I sought an activity that would fit my schedule.

I had been impressed by a friend who completed the Couch to 5K plan. Each time she ran, her progress automatically posted to Facebook, which earned her cheers and encouragement along the way. If Kristie could do it, so could I! So I installed the app on my own phone, made a mix of my favorite tunes, laid out my running shoes and…and… it all just sat there for days. Until the morning of July 4, 2010, when I awoke to an unseasonable chill in the air. It was 62 degrees—the morning fairly begged me to come outside! So off I went: I put on my shoes and headphones, started off with the 5 minute warm-up walk to a nearby park, and I have never looked back.

I’m not gonna lie: I was completely huffing and puffing and staring at the clock on those first 90-second interval runs! The only thing that got me through the whole 90 second run was the knowledge that it would be followed by a walk. That and the very simple self-talk that I developed, which I highly recommend. It goes like this: “I CAN DO ANYTHING FOR 30 MORE SECONDS!!!”

As I stuck with C25K the phrase evolved, and before long I was saying to myself, “I can do anything for just another quarter mile.” That is how I talked myself into completing my first entire mile on the run. The phrase has changed countless times since February, as I ramped up my training for the NYC Tri: “I can do anything …for two more miles… to get to the top of this hill…to get to the end of the pool!” As long as I continue to believe what I’m saying, I CAN do anything!

Was that all I needed to run the entire Peachtree? We will never know, because it was not the sole source of my energy. With more than 55,000 runners, the Peach is such a huge city event that there was entertainment and encouragement along the entire route. I knew to expect spectators, water stations and open fire hydrants, but there was oh so much more! No less than six live bands played along the way, and these alternated with radio stations booming the best rockin’ tunes. Many in the crowd were in patriotic costumes, and there were flags waving everywhere. There were lots of pretty dogs out with their owners for the day, including a beautiful group of greyhounds resting under a tree. Runners would pause to catch airborne T-shirts or to just dance in the street for a few bars. As I ran past Shepherd Center, patients sat outside in their wheelchairs cheering me on– how could I help but do my best?

Had I been hungry, I could have snagged a piece of pizza or watermelon along the way, or tried to catch some flying cheesy-poofs in my mouth. I could have even had a beer! I literally laughed and smiled through the whole course; it was so much fun I wanted to experience and remember every moment. Because our CNN coaches and colleagues have told us that the NYC Tri will be much like this, I simply cannot wait until August 7!

The dash to the finish line was all downhill, and I bolted like a horse headed for the barn. My Garmin recorded a peak of 5.25 min/mile (seriously?) at least for a few steps. I finally forced myself to slow down based on my heart rate, and later (after uploading my stats) learned that I had followed Coach Laura Cozik’s advice without even knowing it: I had run a negative split. Official results: I placed 34,913 out of a field of 55,000+; time: 1:21:17.

The best part of the day came after the finish line, as I met up with the seven co-workers and friends who had introduced me to the race. We compared notes, congratulated one another, took pictures, and had one last grand adventure that involved a taxi and a towing company. (Don't ask). I am so thankful for their mentoring and hospitality. We all had a blast and plans are already under way for next year's trip, including a list of others we plan to harass into joining us. (Friends, and co-workers, you’d better watch out!)


soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Alexandra

    You are an inspiration!! Congratulations

    July 12, 2011 at 06:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Odds

      I did Couch to 5K because my roommate did it. We both went from never running at all to running 3.5 miles in the park across the street two or three times per week and we've branched out to hiking, biking, and kayaking as well. I also posted about my running on Facebook and inspired my aunt who is now on her last week, about to run 5K. Anything that gets people interested in doing the best they can for their health is a good thing in my book!

      July 12, 2011 at 10:12 | Report abuse |
    • John

      I think the criticism comes inthe fact that you see these articles all the time.
      Someone runs a race, they have been fired up for a year and when they get tired of the toy, they toss it aside.
      Our sport is the only sport where the majority of folks who participate in it, don't really like it.
      On the front of the new article in my hometown indystride magazine in Bloomington Indiana this week, they are featuring a guy in a column called "Advise from a Real Runner", whose fat and wearing a shirt that says "Running Sucks"
      If you lined up any 8 year old at a little league race somewhere and asked them who Joey Vatto is...99% of the little baseball players would know.
      If you lined up every runner at the Peachtree race and asked them who Chris Solinsky or Shalane Flanagan is?..99% would not know.
      And I think that is where the the negative feelings come in as unwarranted as they are and they are..
      For us who at one time in our life LOVED the sport and loved it thouroughly, they may see these type articles about diletante runners as something to comment negatively on...
      As a 33 year, 80,000 mile enthusiast (and by my times that's all I am) I always feel that way when I read these articles and I don't know why.
      The sport is more than something done for health, it is more than a weekend thing and it's history and stars and events are virtually ignored by most in this country and most who run in these races.
      I think that's why the negatively appears...
      Oh yeah, good job.

      July 12, 2011 at 11:15 | Report abuse |
  2. Heidi

    Not sure why this is a big deal.

    July 12, 2011 at 07:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sarah in Texas

      Agreed. I am sure there's a 58-year-old first time marathoner somewhere out there.

      July 12, 2011 at 11:02 | Report abuse |
    • Lynn

      It is a big deal because most people can't walk around the block. I believe encouragement is shared in a job well done. So well done!!- and to those of you who don't think it is a big deal just keep quiet- negativity serves no one.

      July 12, 2011 at 17:50 | Report abuse |
  3. Gunadoo

    Just Loved it! Very wittie, funny & inspirational. Thanx for the laughs...Jimi.

    July 12, 2011 at 08:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Kendraburg

    Wonderful article. Congratulations for sticking with it and going the distance. You are an inspiration and living proof of what can be accomplished if you put your mind to it. I'd love to say more but I'm heading to the gym to start training for my own C25K!

    July 12, 2011 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Kari

    Great story! Loved reading it. I ran a 5-mile race, but never did a 10K and have gotten away from exercise the past year. This story reminded me what I loved about running and that I need to get back to it.

    July 12, 2011 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Sheila

    Congratulations to you! Ran my first 5-K on May 15th @ 50 yrs. old and it all started with a Couch – 5K as well. Wonderful feeling indeed. I hope to run a 10-K myself one day

    July 12, 2011 at 09:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. oldladyinoregon

    @Heidi: It's a very big deal to begin a running program when you're almost sixty years old. I started run/walking at 56, am now almost 58, have finished several 5K races and a half marathon, and am training to run/walk a marathon in October. I'm more fit than many people in their twenties and I feel so good when I'm out there running around the countryside. I envy Nina because I haven't been able to run an entire race without suffering shin splints, so I've adopted the Galloway run/walk/run method. It's allowed me to try distances like a marathon without pain or injury. I applaud Nina and her accomplishment!

    July 12, 2011 at 09:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Shawn Davis

    Are you going to have a baby next? Sorry, you're old and running a 10k at 58 isn't going to change it and may be dangerous to your health.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • debbie

      maybe but you're an idiot and nothing will changes that either

      July 12, 2011 at 10:12 | Report abuse |
    • Janie

      Oh my gosh, seriously? It is never too late to start exercising and it definitely is NOT DANGEROUS!

      July 12, 2011 at 11:25 | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff

    Nina should be an inspiration to all but if she doesn't inspire you that's OK. There's no need to display negative criticism about someone's accomplishments. One day, hopefully, you'll be old, and hopefully you'll be active and achieve something great. Heidi and Shawn Davis, if you don't like the story, your electronic device has the capability to move on. Grow up and play nice.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sarah in Texas

    I don't understand how anyone can even run a 13-minute mile. At best, it's shuffling your feet.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jean

      good for you, Sarah in Texas, that you can run so fast. But a thirteen minute mile is a great deal faster than what most people in America today can do and at the age of 58, without having spent years running, this is a great accomplishment.

      July 12, 2011 at 19:49 | Report abuse |
    • Nina

      Sarah, good for you for being so fast. But one year ago I couldn't run for 90 seconds without being winded, so this is where I am and I'm proud of it!

      July 15, 2011 at 20:43 | Report abuse |
    • equality56

      The next birthday I celebrate will be my 60th. In January, I couldn't jog a city block. I now walk 10 miles a day (5 in the morning, 5 in the evening) and jog 4 to 6 of the 10. I've gone from a 2X to a size 10 and have lost 50 pounds. Yes, an overweight chihuahua can probably outpace me at the jog. Ask me if I care.

      @Nina: you go, girl.

      July 26, 2011 at 09:16 | Report abuse |
  11. Sarah D.

    Kudos to anyone who challenges themselves mentally and/or physically! I ran my first marathon recently after starting out about 3 years ago with a couch to 5K class. Many people thought I was nuts to try a full but one must always challenge oneself no matter how old one gets. It keeps life interesting. Plus, you get to drink more hard cider without the guilt!

    July 12, 2011 at 18:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Brian C

    you don't get stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running! I'm shocked that people would criticize this lady or minimize her accomplishment. Seriously though, there's so much negativity in the news these days that I would love to see more stories like this. I've lost 50 lbs since january after turning 40 and went from not running at all to running 6 miles nonstop at a 9:30 pace 3 times per week and I feel better than I ever have. What was that rule that we were supposed to learn in Kindergarten? If you don't have anything nice to say...don't say anything at all!

    July 13, 2011 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Nina

    THANK YOU to everyone who has posted positive comments– it is exciting to hear your happy and inspirational stories!

    July 15, 2011 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Run Nina Run

    Ahh these Nay-sayers seem a little too concerned about crowding at the podium. Better crank it up winers Nina's got a taste for the gold!

    July 15, 2011 at 22:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Vincci

    Congrats Nina! Saw you at Silver Comet yesterday! So inspired!

    July 18, 2011 at 09:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Vincent

    My wife graduated couch to 5K just last week. This program really works. She couldn't run for a minute straight and now can run for 30 minutes. We ran a 2 mile run last week and she made it in 28 minutes.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. AlwaysTri

    Go get 'em, girl! Ignore the debbie-downers. You're kicking butt while they're typing their mean comments from a chair somewhere!

    July 27, 2011 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.