When my mother spontaneously signed me up for the Nanaimo Foam Fest back in January, I was less than enthusiastic to say the least. I skeptically looked up from my computer screen at the dinner table as my mother excitedly shoved a pamphlet in my direction. She sat down as I examined the purple and yellow piece of paper with a big, bold “5K” plastered on the front. My mom took my computer from me and went on their website, chock full of videos of previous runs. Barring my own reluctance, after watching a few promotional videos of people smiling and covered in bubbles and mud, it was starting to look like fun.

At this time of the year, the sun went down at 5 p.m. and the days were short and full of rain. There was still plenty of time to train and I conveniently forgot about it, storing it away in my “to do—later” folder.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 5.44.45 PMThe bright summer sun and balmy weather eventually brought me right back to reality, and I could no longer continue to conveniently forget that I needed to start training. Running five kilometres is nothing to some people; for those like me who have only recently decided to try new things and push themselves into being more active, this was more than a casual stroll.

So what to do? I felt defeated, as my regular yoga sessions from the previous semester were done, and my scheduled time for workouts had not lasted into the craziness that was my spring semester. All in all, it boiled down to two options for me: either wing it on the day and suffer the consequences, or start one step at a time and build up my endurance.

So I found myself in running gear facing down Westwood Lake, feeling awkward in my messy ponytail and barely-broken-in running shoes. Luckily, I had a running partner with me, so I just followed along after we made it up the initial hill.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t too out of breath, and as we started to jog, I found myself falling into a natural rhythm. I was actually running ahead, and when my running buddy started to lag behind and wanted to take a break, I found myself feeling like I could probably go on.

Running with someone who is naturally slower than you has its advantages, and, in all honesty, if you can find that person, they make a perfect companion for training. You may have to, like I did, slow down and feel like you could go faster, but it’s the perfect hold back so that you don’t end up exhausted and unwilling to try again the next time.

By kilometre four, I was starting to feel the burn, and summoning the energy and drive to pump up my arms and jog after my minute of walking was starting to drag. I could already see the bend in the trail and knew there wasn’t much farther to go. With other runners jogging past, I wanted to prove to myself I could do this, and, in fact, I had no choice—the $50 entry fee had already been paid. Maybe there was my motivation.

As I emerged from the end of the trail, sweaty yet proud of myself, I decided to sprint all the way to the car. I’d always loved the feeling of the wind through my hair, the solid ground as my feet hit the pavement, and my blood coursing through my body. I reached the car, breathless and smiling. Maybe this was a feeling I needed to cling on to on the days where I had no motivation.

As it stands, I still have a few months to prepare, and after buying a pair of bright turquoise running pants to match my hot pink running shoes, I think I may have just sparked a new passion—I’ll let you know.

Registration for Foam Fest is still open, but spots are going fast. The Nanaimo event is on June 11 at the Arbutus Meadows in Nanoose Bay off the Island Highway. For more information, or to register, please visit 5kfoamfest.ca.