Pushing Yourself: The First Five Miles

Last Sunday I participated in my first race. This served to burst my bubble into the racing community, and alleviate some of that anxiety and excitement about trying something new for the very first time.

This past Sunday I participated in my second race, which was an 8 kilometer (5 mile) race in Central Park, NY. This event was hosted by New York Road Runners and Poland Spring (my favorite water company). There were a total of 6472 participants running, so this created a lot of energy and buzz before, during, and after the race.

I woke up at 4:15 AM, showered, ate some oatmeal, hung out with Marina for a few minutes and headed over to meet the group. Our meeting spot was the LA Fitness parking lot in North Brunswick, NJ, where we got together at 5:30 AM to drive into the city.

It’s always more fun when you go in a group, especially when everyone with me was a much more experienced runner. I got to ask my running questions, get direct answers, and it happened to be that everyone in the group is awesome and has a huge personality.

When we got there the sun was barely peaking over the horizon (as if we could see a Horizon in the middle of NYC). Not many people were there yet, and we could see the staff setting up the stage for the performers and announcers, as well as the line of people signing up to be volunteers. I immediately signed up for the race, handed over my thirty-five bucks, and scrambled to get my free Poland Spring T-shirt and shoelaces, which I will cherish as a memory of this milestone.

After about an hour of hanging out with Nora, Marge, Binti, Nicholas, and Michael it was time to line up at our respective spots at the starting line. With over 6,000 people, the participants were divided according to their estimated pace. Since this was going to be the first time I raced an 8K (actually the first time that I would ever attempt to run that far in my entire life) I put a modest 10 minutes per mile.

Little did I know that putting that number down as my pace would put me pretty much at the end of the line of runners. Luckily we all had a timing chip attached to our sneakers, so the countdown started once we personally passed the starting line, and ended at the finish. It actually took me a good 5-7 minutes to reach the starting line after the race had begun.

There were many people cheering at the starting line, which gave me extra energy and motivation. The only problem was I couldn’t run full speed, because there were way too many people in my way. It felt like bumper to bumper traffic, and I was weaving in and out of lanes.

Every few hundred yards there was a pair of volunteers whose sole purpose it seems was to cheer on the runners. At this point, all I thought was that it was nice of the volunteers to come out and cheer, but didn’t realize just how instrumental they would soon be.

Coming up to the second mile my legs felt very fatiqued. I actually thought about slowing down, or walking, and saw a lot of people that had already pulled over to the side to walk it out.

I remembered that just last week I ran a race that was 3.11 miles. I knew I could do at least that much, so I was determined to reach that point no matter what. This is where I began to realize just how valuable those volunteers on the side really are. “Good job runners! Looking strong!” were the words of inspiration around every corner. Hey, if they think I’m looking strong, I can’t disappoint them, can I?

I blew past the 3.11 mile, and then past the 3.5 – things seem a bit easier once you’re half way done, because you just say to yourself that if you did it once you can do it again. However, something happened at the 3.75 area that I wasn’t expecting.

A big terribly painful cramp around my right rib area, which I believe is called a stitch. No one likes to be in pain, especially not when they’re tired and trying to run. I held onto my side, and tried to massage it as a ran. “Looking good runners, you’re almost there!” That helped, once again, but there was something even bigger that helped to work through the pain.

I thought about how I was going to write this article, and how I’d be able to inspire someone by sharing my running story of pushing through, and not giving up. I was tired, I was in pain, and I had nothing to prove to anybody. All that kept me going was a personal challenge, and the fact that I wanted to get to the end.

Around the 4.5 mile point I completely forgot about the pain. At this point I could pretty much see the finish line, so I started to run as fast as my feet would take me. Everyone in front of me who wasn’t already done was on the slow side at this point, and I felt like The Flash as I passed them on their left hand side.

As I ran I saw hordes of people on both sides of the finish line area. Some were cheering, and waiting for their loves ones, while others were taking video and photo shots. I felt like a star and like all eyes were on me. That didn’t matter though, I knew I didn’t win any prize, or finish within the first couple of thousand.

All I could think about was that I made a goal, and in about 20 yards that goal would transform into an achievement.

I finished the 5 miles in 48:41, which is about 9 and a half mile pace, a bit faster then I estimated on the sign up form. Not Olympic speed yet, but not at all bad for a first timer.

There’s nothing better than the feeling of integrity – of saying you’re going to do something, and then doing it.

Now it’s time to hear from you. See if you can answer these two questions in the comments section below.

  1. Motivation. What motivates you to push yourself in a race, at work, and in life in general?
  2. Aspirations. What do you aspire to do in your life? Let’s set a new personal goal right here.

Posted by in Health | October 27, 2008 | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumble | Print | 14 comments

  • Marjorie Chertok

    Great article — as always. You captured the spirit of the race and the energy of the runners. It was fun running with you. I was also very glad to see you at 5:30am when I pulled into the parking lot.


  • http://www.creatingAbundantLifestyles.com Wanda Grindstaff

    What a great article Alex. You are an inspiration. Talk about being of one mind to accomplish a major goal!!! You Rock.

  • http://www.abundancehighway.com Suzie Cheel

    Wow Alex Congrats- you must be feeling great

    So what motivates and inspires me:
    1. To inspire and empower others to live lives full of joy creativity and freedom- truly making a difference

    2. New goal- sell 1000 copies of my new book emergings- a meditation on the emotions of change, this will support no 1.


    Attract Abundance Today


  • http://www.healthmoneysuccess.com Vincent

    Hello Alex,

    Congrats for completing the 5 miles run. It is great to see you posting about your stories. It definitely inspired me to look for my first race too.

    Personal Development Blogger

  • http://h B. Wilde

    Hey Alex – Way to go on the running. You deserve to feel great about yourself. I love to run but due to some health issues, this has been the worst summer and fall I’ve had in over 10 years. Your posts motivate me to get out and hit the pavement again or the treadmill as we’re about to get snow in my neck of the woods. Keep running and keep sharing!

  • http://yinvsyang.com PJ_Normz

    1. The passion I have for what I am doing.

    2. I aspire to make a movie one day. I am slowly heading toward that goal the best way I can right now by making commercials, web videos, networking, writing, and learning the craft as best I can.

  • http://www.alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

    @Marge Awesome running with you. We need to talk more about networking and business, that was a good conversation.

    @Wanda Thank you. All I know is that, if I can do it so can you, that’s for sure.

    @Suzie That’s an awesome motivation, and I like your book goal, really solid!

    @Vincent Great to hear feedback on this writing style. I’m going to mix in more personal stories among my list posts, now that I know people like this style.

    @B. Wilde Take it at your own pace, and I hope you recovery fully and quickly.

    @PJ Passion for what you’re doing? You’re might type of person, the only type that doesn’t scare me. =)

  • http://www.codeflow.co.za Juliet


    1. love, fun, enjoyment, creativity, sharing, connecting, learning

    2.Mmm, so much:
    people – I have a fantastic relationship
    lifestyle – do what I love and love what I do
    my website / affirmation application / blog – spread the word! Grow!
    write – as much as possible (and I’ll leak it out then, a book one day)
    home – live near the sea in a beautiful, quiet and peaceful place (all identified and in the process of manifesting)
    Animals – more pets (after moving to the new home)
    See, told you there was lots!
    I think I should hold off with setting more aspirations, have too many daily affirmations as it is 😉


  • http://www.alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

    @Juliet Wow, you really do have a lot of awesome priorities on your plate, don’t you? Very cool! Come on back and tell us more about your affirmation application, sounds interesting to me.

  • http://betweenthemiles.blogspot.com/ kara

    I still remember the excitement of my first races. Thanks for bringing back those memories.
    What gets me going – when I hit the wall during a race, is trying to beat my previous time. Unfortunately, as I get older – its become more of a burden than a challenge.

  • http://www.alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

    @Kara I’m glad I could revive the vibe for you. Maybe instead of concentrating on faster time you can concentrate on keeping a dead steady pace throughout your runs, which is also a skill that takes developing. I’m sure there are other fun things you can do with running other than going for pure speed. =)

  • http://www.somedaysyndrome.com Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome

    Congrats! What a great story!

    As for me, what motivates me? Very little. I’m a lazy person by nature, but get myself going by thinking about how I’d feel if I didn’t do something. So I suppose avoiding regrets is what motivates me.

    I have two aspirations right now – to get my fiction published and to become a professional speaker. Both goals are underway right now, with National Novel Writing Month starting Saturday so I’ll be writing my next novel this coming month.

  • http://www.atcen.com Charm6781_Yatie

    Hi Alex,

    This is my first time reading your post…and it’s very good and inspiring. Love it…

    What motivates me – the idea of being in control and when someone challenge me in anything will keep me up to beat.

    What inspires me – 1st would be my Boss (Ernie Chen)
    – 2nd is knowing that what i did for someone have help
    them tremendously and this will keep me move forward.

  • Pingback: 7 Key-Tips To Get A Ticket On The Success Train This Year | Alex Shalman . com()