Yesterday was my first competitive running experience in… well, almost half my life.
MY RUNNING HISTORY IN FOUR SENTENCES:
In high school, I ran track until I got mono (January of my sophomore year of high school) and the doctor encouraged me to lay off the running until I was fully recovered. I ran some my junior and senior years, but not competitively and pretty much only when my mom made me. In college, I ran sporadically, but only when I felt like it and certainly never competitively. I started running consistently again in 2007, but I didn’t really get the urge to register for any sort of race until this summer, after I was diagnosed and realized that I won’t have the ability to race forever.
YESTERDAY’S RACE RECAP:
Yesterday I ran the Race for Smiles 5k. Prior to the race, I set some goals for my running, made an awesome race playlist, and got a great night’s sleep (8 hours!).
Then I woke up to discover that it was 40 DEGREES outside. I know my friends from New England will laugh at me, but in weather that cold, I usually opt for the treadmill. I’ve been doing some outdoor running lately, but it hasn’t been that cold out, so I had to adjust my expectations.
I went from a goal of 30:00 to a goal of just finishing the thing without freezing.
I’d been planning to wear my favorite running clothes on Saturday (running crops and a short-sleeved shirt), but with the temperature where it was, I needed to throw something over it to keep warm… so I just tossed on a hoodie and hoped I’d be warm enough.
I showed up to the race about 15 minutes early and found that there were a lot of twiggy little women, buff men, and super athletic children in their expensive running gear ready to take on the course. I’m very proud of the weight I’ve lost, so please don’t think I’m calling myself fat, but at a size 10 I was easily one of the largest women there. Definitely the largest woman in my age group. From that point, I adjusted my expectations to NOT finishing last.
They organized us onto the road and explained the course. It involved multiple U-turns, two big hills, and, just prior to the first mile marker, crossing a MAJOR road. They said everything would be clearly marked (and, for the most part, it was).
When the race started, I did exactly what I’d been telling myself not to do, which is that I got caught up with the “fast” group and started out way too fast. It didn’t really hit me until I got to the intersection at the major road, where the police were NOT doing a good job stopping traffic for us. We had to jog in place at the intersection for over a minute before they finally stopped traffic and let us cross! Waiting at that intersection made me realize how exhausted I was (which was terrible, since we hadn’t even reached the first mile marker yet).
After we crossed the road, I let myself split back from the fastest group, since I knew there was no way I could keep pace with them if I wanted to actually finish the race. I fell into a small group of other “in-between” runners who had slowed together, and we pretty much did the rest of the race in that group.
When they handed me my timecard at the finish line, I was pretty surprised that I was 42nd overall (it seemed like there were a lot more people in front of me once the groups split). I don’t know how many people were racing, but the highest bib number I saw anyone wearing was 133, so there were at least that many people (which puts me in the top third).
I decided to wait around for the awards because my super-fast 11 year old next door neighbor had placed 10th overall and I wanted to support him. Imagine my surprise when I was announced as the winner of the Female Age 25-29 age group! It was definitely not what I expected when I registered for the race, and it absolutely made me feel good about myself.
My PR in high school was much faster than what I accomplished yesterday, and I know that if I’d been more prepared for the weather or hadn’t burned myself out on that first hill/mile, I might have finished faster, but I’m still pleased with myself and excited for what I can do on the next race.