Five miles of awesome, fleeting moments of fear

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life84 Comments


Last week, I hit a personal milestone in my running. I ran 5 miles without stopping.

5.03 miles, to be more specific, in fairly humid conditions, with cloud cover and a temperature of around 70 degrees.

I set out to do 2.5 that morning. But when I hit that mark and found that nothing hurt and I was breathing within acceptable limits, I just kept chugging along.

I was testing out a new running mix during this run. I wonder if the novelty of it also contributed to my decision to keep going? I know that "Everlong" by the Foo Fighters made me run faster, and that "Root Down" by the Beastie Boys made me grin through the sweat, and that "Anyway You Want It/Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'" by the Glee cast made me feel as though the run was just beginning, as opposed to hitting Mile 4.

I just kept winding through my St. Paul neighborhood waiting for the Nike+ disembodied voice lady to tell me I'd hit that magical 5 mile mark.

And after 55 minutes, she did.

Go me.

I'd like to be very clear about my running.

Number oneβ€”I am not fast. You will not mistake me for a former high school track athlete who's rediscovering her love of running. Occasionally, I manage to run under 11 minute miles, but that's according to Nike+ and not some high tech Garmin watch (and yes, I am secretly coveting one for accuracy's sake). There are no flames erupting in my wake. Dan can speed walk and keep up with my clip, if that tells you anything.

Number twoβ€”I don't really look like a runner. I know this, because there is a church I run by during most of my runs. It has big glass doors, and at the risk of sounding vain, I always watch myself as I run past it because I'm trying to work on my form. It's only good for about 4 or 5 strides and every single time I catch my reflection I'm floored at how bubbly my butt is. Even though I feel like I'm gliding, it's really more of a forward-leaning lope while dragging a large butt-shaped duffel bag at the base of my lower back effect.

Number threeβ€”#1 and #2 don't really matter. Why? Because I absolutely love how this is making me feel (minus the foot pain, which I'm fairly certain is the start of plantar fasciitis, and yes, I am taking precautions). I love that I am doing something that I never thought I would do, or even would want to do. I am sweating and smiling and rocking out and wearing cute hats and covering myself in sun screen and blowing my nose on tissues I stash in the lining of my jog bra. And I'm out there doing it.

Yes, there is a part of me that feels a little less than at times, wishing I was one of those fast girls clipping around the lake. It's that wanna be athlete in me that wants to hang with the real runners.

Yes, there is a part of me that is really afraid of both injury and taking too many days of rest, lest I lose this strange desire to lace up and head out.

Yes, I am able to do other things besides run, but they just aren't quite as sweaty or euphoric.

For now, I'm just going to remember how I felt all day that day: pretty much invincible and amazing.

Who'd of thought that when I set out to drop some pounds I'd get that as a by product?

Cathy ZielskeFive miles of awesome, fleeting moments of fear

84 Comments on “Five miles of awesome, fleeting moments of fear”

  1. #1

    I love the way you write and describe your runs, so funny but so real. You have come some far and should be so proud of yourself. You go girl!!

  2. #2

    Congratulations Cathy. 5 miles is awesome. I have fun planning different routes through Google pedometer. A change of scenery is nice and I know how far 2 miles are even without a little voice telling me. I’m 53 so slow and steady is the only way I run and I’m loving it so much.

  3. #3

    You ARE a “real runner” (whatever that means). Jeez.

    Cathy, you’re such an inspiration. I’ve turned into a blob since retiring from taekwondo a year ago and now I’m fat and achy and unmotivated. Actually, today is my day to get back to eating right and working out again. You and Andrea Chamberlain are my inspiration.

    Right now I can’t even imagine running five miles, never mind 50 yards. Hopefully I’ll get there too. Congrats on your great progress.

  4. #5
    Leslie @ {Tiny Wings}

    Oh my goodness, Cathy — you certainly are a runner!! Such an inspiration, too. I know that the statistics registering on my Nike+ gizmo are going to expose me for the fast walker that I am (for awhile at least) but I’m optimistic that at some point in the near future, I’m going to hit a 5 mile run, too! Your tenacity and enthusiasm are definitely motivating me!!

  5. #10

    Cathy I just wanted to let you know the “invincible and amazing” feelings don’t change no matter how long you’ve been running. Some runs more than others but it’s my experience that the feelings are always present πŸ™‚

  6. #11

    Congratulations! 5-miles is HUGE! I am slow, too. I would be watching you in amazement from 3-minutes back.

  7. #12

    I’ve been wanting to do a sub-30 min for 3 miles and I *think* I did it yesterday, but when I got to about the half mile mark I realized my watch hadn’t started when I’d pressed start. Gah. But I *think* I did it, so I *think* I can do it again. Once I do I’m going to start upping my mileage… 5 miles w/o stopping will be my next big goal. πŸ™‚ And yes, after my run yesterday I totally felt invincible and amazing. It’s also a big surprise to me that my body image has improved much faster & more than my body has actually improved. I think that’s a good thing. πŸ™‚ GO US!!!

  8. #14

    (I know you’re probably getting a million “you’re such an inspiration” messages but I just wanted to add my own.)

    I’m about 85lbs overweight, NEVER been an athlete (NEVER!) and in desperate need of change. I’ve been so inspired by you that I got my fat ass out there and did the first week of Couch to 5K this week. And lo! Wasn’t I just darn near floored off my dimpled ass when the running was actually EASIER by day 3?!?!

    I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say I’m enjoying myself at this point….but I am very proud of the little bit of progress I’ve made. And the progres will beget more progress as it motivates me to keep going! I’ve already decided to run a race this coming November. This is something I ***NEVER*** thought I’d do. The fact that it is within my reach just blows my mind.

    Thanks for all the running posts. You really do inspire me to get out there and run.

  9. #15

    yep, I love your blog….maybe even you! You are inspiring and you make me laugh. Can’t get much better!!

  10. #16

    Cameron, that IS a good goal. I’d like to think i could do that too, the 30 minute 3-miler. I’m closer to 34 right now. GO US!

  11. #17

    Amanda, that is AWESOME. Damn! go you! Seriously. The Couch to 5K works, from all I’ve read about it. So just keep at it. It has taken me 6 months to reach the point where i’m feeling like i am enjoying runs (and that IS a relative term. I think i enjoy the feeling of the post run more!)

    Keep up the good work!

  12. #18

    Cathy, YOU are TOO FUNNY!!!!! (I love the duffel bag butt analogy… hilarious!) Congratulations on your success(es). I admire your dedication and will-power.

  13. #19

    Thanks for this entertaining and ever-so-true post! I ran two 5K’s a few years ago. I was neither face or all that graceful, but I did it! You go, Cathy!

  14. #20

    5 miles is amazing! I can’t wait to get to that point! Do you think you’ll ever post your running mix on itunes so groupies like us can be inspired by your music choices? πŸ™‚

  15. #21
    Audrey V

    Hi Cathy,
    I love your posts about running, because I am in the same boat. I have never been a runner or athletic in any way, and I run slow, I’ve worked from a 12 minute mile toward a 10 minute mile. But hey, I’m doing it and loving it and I ran my longest distance, a 10K two weeks ago. Be careful if you think you have plantar faciitis, it derailed me for 3 months last year. The most important thing is to buy the shoe inserts that cost about $20 at the shoe store and wear them in all of your shoes. I have other tips if you need them too.

  16. #22

    Congrats Cathy. That is amazing. You know what, I am not a runner. Never have been. But I have been following your progress and at your recommendation, I read Run Like a Mother this weekend–and loved it! And now, I am thinking about the running thing. 5 miles huh?

    Congrats again,

  17. #23

    Awesome. Just awesome.

    And get some orthotics. I had plantar for 6 months last year. I got it after trying to run too much too soon. The only way to get rid of it for me was regular stretching-as in a minute or two three or four times a day. I would roll a frozen water bottle in the evenings while watching tv. And drugs. Stay on top of it and it won’t go crazy. I still get twinges of it, especially now with the more running, and I get nervous and grab my ice.

    As for the orthotics. I got custom ones that were crazy expensive, which I wear when I run, but then a few months later I got an over the counter pair from my podiatrist which cost about 40 bucks and work great.

    And again, just awesome.

  18. #26

    Cathy, your running posts are so inspiring. Congratulations on 5 miles! πŸ™‚
    I haven’t done any ourdoor running since mid-May when I realized the achilles pain I had DURING my runs was a real signal to stop and let it heal. I’ve been playing tennis and cross-training, and I’ve been on the treadmill twice since then, but reading your posts makes me miss my outdoor runs SO much. Waaaaaaah wah wah… sorry for the pity party. πŸ˜‰

  19. #30

    Thanks, Deb. I’ve been doing the frozen water bottle. Totally helps. I will be doing it shortly.

    I also realized the dude at the running store who sold me my Newtons sold me a pair for neutral gaits. Well, I have totally flat feet, no arches, and was supposed to be in the stability shoe. Ugh! so, i’m trying a new pair. they are on their way in the mail…

  20. #32

    Barb, i never thought i’d be able to commiserate on the whole, “Waaa.I can’t run” thing and now, that is my new big fear.

    How weird is that?

  21. #33
    Stefani Meyer

    You’re funny! I know how you feel. I stopped running for about 2 weeks after I watched myself running on video. I thought, “Ugh gross! People don’t want to be seeing that!” Then I realized that just like you, it doesn’t matter. Just on my way out the door to run 5k.

  22. #35

    Cathy –

    Way to go! I love reading your posts and loved reading them when you were struggling for inspiration and am so happy now that you seem in the groove. I am starting WW AGAIN and am just wondering…what is it about this time for you that seems to be sticking? What shifted or clicked or was it just sticking to it every day when you gave up before? Thanks for being so honest, smart, and funny through good times and bad!

  23. #37
    Michelle P

    Right there with you sister!!! Lovin the way it makes me feel! I’m about 4 months behind you & CAN’T wait until I can run for 5 miles. My husband bought me a necklace the other day that says… “Run Like A Girl”
    Love this & the feeling I get when I lace up! Thanks for the inspiring blog.

  24. #41

    I think we should call ourselves “Team Z” or “Team Cathy” or some such thing! You’ve inspired a bunch of us! I’m up to 3 miles and couldn’t care less how I look to somebody else; I FEEL GREAT!
    I also had plantar faciitis (sp?) last year, caused by my loooong days on my feet as a flight attendant. I broke down and got the ugly Dansko clogs and viola’! Gone.

  25. #43
    sandra m.

    I am so glad I dont run by a glassed building when I run! Teehee–would have to quit for shame…anywho, thanks for the inspiration to keep going. I have been step for step with you on this journey, getting my 3 miles in under 35 minutes–tonight I will challenge myself to go for 5! I too have P.F. and have found rolling my foot on a tennis ball for stretching, icing after the run and of course ibuprofen works great. Your new shoes will definately help too.
    Thank you again, cant wait to see what we will do next week! πŸ™‚

  26. #45

    Julie, I think it’s just realizing what I want for my life. I don’t want to anesthetize myself with food. I want to move, and be healthier. I want to look and feel better.

    I just know that no one can do this for me. It’s my choice. It’s something that I want and that is my motivation for right now.

    I have fears that I won’t be able to continue doing it, and yet, every day, I get up and say, “Today, I’m taking care of my body as if it really does matter.”

    : )

    Hope that helps! It’s not easy, but it does get easier.

  27. #46

    Mary Ellen, I didn’t step outside until April of this year. Now, I don’t really want to go back down to my basement, though I did over the weekend. You know what? It wasn’t as enjoyable.

    You will when you are ready and make sure it’s a day that’s not too hot, and remember: you will feel a different type of muscle soreness, but it goes away!

  28. #47

    Yeah, my Dansko clogs work GREAT for it. But they look too goofy to wear with shorts.

    I may have to check out some dansko summer shoes!

  29. #50

    I think you might be my running guru. 5 miles and the cast from glee on the ipod. May be some day I can be like you. Fab – v v fab.

  30. #51

    Rebecca, does this have to be done by a podiatrist? or can i do the over the counter kind? I should ask my hubby. He has custom ones. Doh.

  31. #52

    I just love these posts, so inspiring. Im at 2 miles now and am really inspired to shoot for Grandmas 1/2 next year! Now I just need to ditch the smokes to make that a reality!

  32. #53

    Great job Cathy!! 5 miles is awesome! Also, thanks for some ideas to add to my workout mix πŸ™‚

  33. #54

    Confucius said, “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” You are a real runner!!!!!

    Rolling your foot on a golf ball helps for the plantar fascitis too, it hurts, but it works!

    I gave up the kleenex habit in favour of a baby wash cloth. More environmentally friendly, softer and don’t suffocate myself when I take a deep breath when trying to blow my nose (Oh, so it’s only me!). I wear a fuel belt when running, carries my water bottle and I loop my wash cloth over it!

    Ran 5K with my 16 year old daughter yesterday, she is faster, but I have more stamina. Best present she ever gave me.

    Go you!


  34. #55

    Cathy, it sounds cheesy but you were one of the pieces of inspiration that have got me moving in a much more serious way. I am learning to run with an iphone app called ‘couch to 5k’ – you pick a song list then it tells you when to run and when to walk. It’s designed to get you running 5k in nine weeks. The first day I nearly died… But then I started to feel so alive. I just thought the app might be a helpful mention for others thinking about trying but not sure how to start

  35. #56
    Jennifer Brannon

    Love the ‘butt-shaped duffel bag’ line… gonna have to use it!

    You ARE a real runner, Cathy, and you’re going to keep hitting more fun milestones!

    It really IS addictive, isn’t it?

    Running is So. Friggin’. Awesome.!

  36. #57

    Awesome job Cathy! What an amazing accomplishment! I am happy that you are enjoying something so great for YOU!

  37. #59

    LOVE LOVE LOVE my garmin….just get one, you won’t regret it! It will help ease the pain of an iphoneless life. I guarantee it πŸ™‚ (I know b/c I do not have an iphone either.)

  38. #62

    Congratulations on your milestone! I think 11 min/mi over 5 miles is darned fast. It took me over a year to get that fast (I’ve been running for about 22 months) and I’m still not much faster than that.

    How do you like your Newtons? I take it you usually wear a neutral running shoe vs. stability or motion control? I’m a moderate overpronator so I need a stability shoe, so I’m really hesitant to try the Newtons, Nike Free (or whatever it’s called), etc.

    I’m a fairweather runner as well. I run on the treadmill from about November to April then go outdoors. It’s way more interesting outdoors, but hey, I’m on the Canadian Prairies so our climate is even worse than MN! lol

  39. #64

    Cathy – Here’s to many more 5 milers (raising my water bottle)…for years to come!! And looking forward to your inevitable post about traveling and your main concern is having a good route to run wherever you are visiting/working/ vacationing. πŸ™‚ (since it really is one of the best ways to see a place!!!) Heidi (who just did a 5er in the new town we are moving to this summer and is certain that running has been the only thing to keep the moving about 1800 miles away “anxiety/ stress/ heck call it a breakdown in the making” at bay! πŸ™‚ ha. Thank goodness for endorphins!) And hope the new shoes clear up the plantar fascitis woes.

  40. #65

    Totally inspirational! I love reading about your running! I’ve been doing lots of 10km walks lately and I’m doing an 11km in October that I’m hoping to run. I don’t really run yet, but I’m hoping to work up to it! You’re definitely inspiring me to give it my best shot πŸ™‚ (Thank you!)

  41. #66

    Congratulations Cathy. Go you!!! I vaguely remember a time when I felt like this and I really want to find that time again. Reading what you write is really inspiring but then waking up in the dark of a cold Australian winter takes away my desire again. Really I am just making excuses. I know I have to start somewhere. Thanks for the inspiration.

  42. #68
    Di Hickman

    Ah the plantar fasciitis! We must be psychic as I have just had my first bout of pain with the PF beast! Hurts like hell huh? Ice, stretch and some exercises and it’s slowly getting better. I haven’t run since thursday though! Been on the spin bike, and doing weights but not ran. Supposed to run today but opting for spin, Maybe Thursday…

    Have you looked into barefoot running? There is a train of thought with some scientific evidence that the shoes we’re buying are actually making our feet worse and causing 1/2 the problems that we runners have. I wish I could afford some Vibrams!

    Also get the Garmin! I have the 305 and LOVE IT! HRM and GPS, and great info post run for us techies! Gives you average speed, speed per lap (mile), also the ability to work on speed with intervals settings. LOVE LOVE LOVE mine, plus decent price on amazon, was 1/2 price when I got mine πŸ™‚ I never run without it now!

  43. #69
    Hilary Ford

    Yaay – go you! I did my first five miles at the weekend too, but had to stop to catch my breath a couple of times. Looking forward to the day when I can do it without stopping, just like you did! πŸ™‚

  44. #72
    Kate Teague

    I think you should reward yourself with a garmin for making the 5 miles πŸ™‚ And ouch plantar hurts- I have had it before- it still flares from time to time. I find it *really* important that when not running to wear good shoes- no cheapie flats without support for me as they bother my arches. My plantar took me out for a few months and I slid back and am slowly working my way back up- at 3 miles right now πŸ™‚

  45. #73

    I absolutely love hearing about your running and your journey! I did a 10K on May and loved every moment (I think!!!) I have plantar fasciitis and that is what has been keeping me back lately. What precautions are you taking? I would be interested it hear them!

  46. #74
    Pam K

    Ok I know you said you are taking percautions in regards to the plantar fascitis, but I wanted to give you some tips. ALWAYS stretch before you get out of bed in the morning. Seriously, this is huge. Just have a towel handy next to your bed and sling it around your foot and stretch your foot, pulling toes toward you. The calf, achilles, and plantar fascia are a viscious group. Also, it is great to have a frozen bottle of water handy. Pull it out of the freezer, take a seat, place the bottle on the floor on its side, place your foot (bare or sock)on it and roll your foot over it back and forth. A nice stretch to the fascia while using the cold to combat the inflammation. Good luck!

  47. #75
    Kathryn Whittaker

    I saw a podiatrist just yesterday, and this is exactly what he told me to do, except, wear a sock when you do the ice bottle massage, so you don’t injure your skin from the ice. I got the new inserts in my shoes right after my appointment, and it is amazing how much better my foot feels. It still hurts a bit, but, hey, I just started the stretching, icing, and ibuprophen. Good luck Cathy, and take good care of the feets.

  48. #76
    Marge Johnston

    I’m so PROUD of you and for you!! But the “bubbly butt” effect made me fall off my chair!!!ROFL!!! This is why I NEVER run where there are large windows — too much jiggle to want to see reflected!!LOL

  49. #77


    About your foot pain – do you wear flip-flops a lot? I used to and developed crippling pain in my feet. I learned that the way you walk in them can hurt your feet. I stopped wearing them and after some time, the pain vanished. I just make sure to buy sandals with heel straps now. And if you don’t, well disregard my advice and accept my congrats on your running. That’s something I’d love to get back to doing myself. Your posts are quite inspiring!

  50. #78

    You ARE an athlete!!
    Just taking your ‘duffle bag’ out the door and hitting the pavement proves it.
    I love hearing the newness and excitement in your adventure. Way to go!

    (maybe you’ve already received that memo – I didn’t read the 77 COMMENTS!!! you have – Go Girl!)

  51. #80

    Congratulations!!!! I can’t stop laughing though…

    “it’s really more of a forward-leaning lope while dragging a large butt-shaped duffel bag at the base of my lower back effect.”

    …how do you come up with this stuff?!!! My kids think I’ve gone crazy, thanks for the giggle πŸ˜€

  52. #82

    well holy shit! You inspire to no end. I just started running.
    I must look like a jiggly mess…I refuse to look in the mirror at the gym. πŸ™‚

    Thank you…loved reading this post…any more good songs on your list?

  53. #83

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I loved this post. Your honesty is awesome, plus it makes me laugh. Although I haven’t been able to work out the last several days (taking care of daughter & new-born grandson), I am actually looking forward to getting back home (not too far from you) and heading to the Y to run. Your journey has been a large part of what has inspired me to take up running recently. Thanks for the support you’re offering us all!

  54. #84

    Cathy, I have read your blog for a while (sorry!LOL) but I’m too busy running!hahah Anyway, so glad to see that you got moving. It’s a wonderful feeling isn’t it. I started running 10 years ago and haven’t stopped. I’m 48 1/2 and in 4 days will be doing my 15th half-marathon (actually it’s a 27k run but it still counts as a half in my personal tally!).

    As you are beginning to discover running has so many more benefits that just good legs. I will never give it up until I’m to old or dont have use of my legs anymore!

    Any after 10 years of running and dozens of races I have to tell no that there is no such thing as a “typical” runner, we come in all shapes and sizes and if you are out there doing it then you are a runner too.

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