By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Sep 05, 2009 at 10:14 PM

Unlike my previous 5K race in July, which also happened to be my first, I felt prepared as could be this morning. Even though I only decided a few days ago to run in the 5K portion of the Lake Country Half Marathon in Oconomowoc, this time my training was neither rushed nor ill-advised. And, unlike that Storm the Bastille race, in which I finished in a embarrassing 37 minutes, 13 seconds, this time I performed somewhat respectfully, albeit still slowly: 32 minutes, 52 seconds.

I even finished fifth in the 35-39 age group, though for all I know, there could've been only five people in that bracket.

 Though I ran that same distance three other times this week, the actual race setting was surprisingly grueling. A 7:05 a.m. start -- which meant I woke up at 5 a.m. to get out to Oconomowoc -- perhaps threw me off more than I expected. Typically, I run after work, and I've never tried to run when the temperature read about 55 degrees. It was chilly in a T-shirt and shorts, and even though it warmed up by 7:30 a.m., I might've been thrown for a psychological loop at first.

Because of that, or maybe because I found myself running too quickly too soon, my outer calves burned the entire way. At the second mile, I started seriously questioning if I could continue, but after walking a few steps, I ignored the pain and pushed on. Technically, my best time for a 5K -- which comes out to 3.1 miles -- was on Thursday, when I did it in 31 minutes, 45 seconds. But that pace -- 10 minute, 13 second miles -- felt even and steady as I jogged through the park near my house. Considering this morning I ran the first mile in nine minutes, the second much more slowly, I have to assume the final mile was a "blistering" pace for this still out-of-shape fat guy.

But I did it, and for that I feel a great sense of accomplishment. In actuality, I'm working toward Al's Run in October, a 5-mile race that should knock me on my butt for days -- assuming I actually finish. I've made that distance twice now, though clearly, race conditions are a different story. I know that real runners will laugh at my travails -- I saw them doing 6-minute miles today in the longer half marathon. But my running group was supportive, and something about seeing the wife and baby daughter at the finish line pushed me even faster. I know that three miles isn't much, but today, it felt plenty.

In my previous running blog, I talked about all the wrong ways to get into shape. Now, however, I'm wearing the proper shoes with custom orthotics and training at a steady and realistic pace. While I wish today's race would've been a little easier, I'm nonetheless inspired that I'm moving in the right direction. I'd like to get to the bottom of this burning in my outer calves which is just starting to subside now, but today proves some progress has been made.

Two months in, I'm well on my to fitness, and soreness aside, it feels great.

Andy is the founder and co-owner of OnMilwaukee.com. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.