My first 5K was literally an uphill battle
March 16th, 2012
12:02 PM ET

My first 5K was literally an uphill battle

Editor's Note: Adrienne LaGier from St. Leonard, Maryland, is one of seven CNN viewers selected to be a part of the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge program. Each athlete receives all the tools necessary to train for and compete in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon this September, alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

At 6:45am, 15 of my yearbook students met me in 38-degree, windy weather to set up some registration tables and water stations for our race, "It's OK to 5K."

Not only was this the first 5K I had ever helped organize, it was the first 5K I would RUN.

A few weeks before this race, I began walking the cross country course to get a feel for the terrain. After heading straight up a vertical hill, I was having second and third thoughts about this being my first race.

When I ran into one of my students the next day who was on the cross country team, I asked her if that hill was really part of the course. She said, “Yes, and you get to run up it twice! Did I mention that our course is one of the toughest in our conference?”

Umm. No.

The night before the race, I had a dream that when I came to the starting line, I was turned away. They told me I had been disqualified for not attending the pre-race meetings. Dejected, I started sobbing on the sidelines. I called my trainer and he said there was nothing he could do for me. I started screaming, “But, I’m in charge of this race!” Didn’t matter.

When I woke up and realized that I did get to run in the race after all, a rush of gratitude overcame me.

As the horn blared and we all took off for the course, I took my spot near the back of the pack behind one of my former editors and her mom who were joining me in their first 5K as well.

All along the course my own students cheered me on, and others that I’ve never met shouted, “You’re doing great!”

The last mile of the race, my Garmin heart rate monitor topped 185 and all I could do was give the thumbs up sign and try to control my heavy breathing.

Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” kept replaying in my head: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

My editor-in-chief’s mom and sister stopped their race in their tracks to run me in. I could hear them behind me saying, “You got this girl.” Those words gave me the extra boost to get up the last big hill before the dash to the end.

As I crossed the finish line, I held back the tears and the urge to throw up. The clock read 38:31, which was good enough for second place in my age group.

“After your first race, you’ll either catch the bug, or you’ll be one and done.” That’s what my trainer told me the first time we met.

Now, I know it was only my first 5K, but if I’m going to have a 45-minute running workout every Saturday for the next six months, I might as well have the chance to get a medal for it. Or better yet, have peer pressure to do my best.

Next stop: Jefferson Patterson Park 5K on March 24 where I hope to finish 30 seconds to a minute stronger.

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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.