Approximately one month ago, I signed up for my first 5K. The Run for the Heroes walk/run took place Monday on Memorial Day. I wasn't prepared mentally or physically to push myself beyond my usual one-mile run, but my goal was to get there.

My training started out realistically. I created a calendar that displayed a running schedule set for five days a week. I also started a food journal and vowed to eat more healthy foods. I even searched the internet for ways to prepare for a 5K.

I was determined to be ready to "run for our heroes" by Memorial Day.

As time progressed, I became more desperate, and it showed in my internet searches. I went from "how to train for a 5K" to "how to train for a 5K in three weeks." Ultimately, I searched for "can you complete a 5K without proper training." It was bad, but what can I say? Time just didn't seem to be on my side.

Before I knew it, the day had come. I was about to participate in my first 5K, and there was no turning back. I had managed to do some running and walking on my treadmill over the past week, but obviously not enough to prepare for the event.

Once I arrived at the venue, I saw participants who looked like this wasn't their first rodeo. People of all ages were jogging in place and stretching. They were getting pumped!

I reflected on the past few weeks and thought about how I could've prepared better. I thought about my coworkers and how they laughed at the "girly-girl" who didn't even seem to own a pair of tennis shoes doing a 5K. I wished I had taken advantage of the time I had, but it was too late. I was here and I was going to do this.

I met up with a friend who had participated in previous races, and we proceeded to go confirm our registration and receive the number we'd be identified by. Once I pinned my number onto my shirt, there was no turning back. It was a few minutes until show time and at that point, I was getting pumped.

We found a tree and began to stretch and jog in place. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?

After a few minutes, the 5K runners lined up and waited for the go ahead. I looked around and wondered how many of the people that surrounded us would stay near once we took off. I even wondered if I'd slow my friend down and prayed that she wouldn't leave me once we took off on Hoffmeyer Road. It wasn't long before the large crowd split up and participants were all over the place. I became a little discouraged when I felt the wind of a man pushing a stroller. My goal is for that to never happen again. I should not see a man pushing a stroller zoom past me.

After half of a mile was complete, we approached a water stand where two ladies waited with cups of water that tasted like heaven. The few sips that the tiny cup contained was just what I needed to press forward. There were other water stands, volunteers and officers who were helpful during the journey to the finish line. With their encouraging words and the words of other participants, pushing through was doable.

Once we turned around on Dozier Boulevard, I knew it was all downhill from there. We were headed back. I constantly thought to myself, "I'm really doing this."

My 5K consisted of walking and running. I didn't win a prize or rank first in my age group, but I competed my first 5K. I set a goal and accomplished that goal. That is what's important to me.

When I ran through the finish line and looked to the left to see my husband and daughter there waiting for me, I held back tears. Their faces confirmed that they were just as proud of me as I was.

I have now crossed “complete a 5K” off the bucket list!

Christine McCormick Cooper lives in Florence and is employed at PGBA. She enjoys spending time with her husband, teenage triplet sons and daughter. Contact her at citizencolumnist@florencenews.com.