I completed my first 10k last weekend (Sept 23, 2017). It was an amazing experience and much easier than I expected. But oddly, that wasn’t the moment I realized I was an athlete. Nope.
Wednesday was a perfectly gorgeous day. Jon and I were driving home from work and passed a guy out for a run. I found that I was ENVIOUS. But I had women coming over for a book study that evening and did not have time to squeeze in a run AND prepare for them. Or at least not enough time to do both and shower. My goal was to be welcoming and that would have been the opposite. But anyway. Still not the moment.
Yesterday was a perfectly gorgeous day. Jon was heading to a concert with friends and I had promised the youngest we would go out for dinner before tackling school work. At dinner I checked the time for sunset and found that it was still an hour and half away. Back home, I got Lilbit started on his paper, changed and finally got outside for a run. My activity tracker was running but there was no Garmin on my wrist, largely displaying my pace. There were no split times coming through my headphones. There was no timer telling me when to run and when to walk. I did not have a time or a distance goal. It was just the road, how I felt, and music. I returned home feeling much lighter. At least emotionally. And that’s when I realized. I don’t have to qualify my label as an athlete with additions like “slow” or “clumsy” or …whatever. I just went for a run. Not because it was on a training schedule or because I have an event. I unplugged and went simply for the joy of it. And that alone makes me a runner. I already do that with swimming but for some reason that did not impact me like that run did.
The 10k. Ah. I was a little tight and sore last night after two miles so maybe I’m not completely recovered. But the race was a wonderful experience. I really had no idea what to expect. My longest training run had been four miles and that was painful. Of course it was also 90 degrees. The temperature at race start time was forecasted to be 38 degrees. And I don’t really do cold. Eventually I decided that if it was raining, I wasn’t going but if not, I would brave the chill knowing I should warm up within a few miles.
Prepping for the race the night before was odd. I’ve only set up for triathlons lately so only having to set out stuff for one sport, and the one that requires the least amount of equipment, was a bit disconcerting. I kept walking back over to my clothes and saying “Clothes, shoes, race number….that’s really it huh?” It was actually even easier than packing to go the gym before work! I went to bed at a decent hour and proceeded to have nightmares all night. I couldn’t tie my shoes. My shoes were too big. I was wearing flip flops or sandals. There were like 20 laces in each shoe….so I couldn’t tie them. Again. I missed the race start. All. Night. Long. My brain can be weird.
Race morning was pretty non-eventful. It was cold but once we were all in start corrals it wasn’t too bad. I sat with a girl on the shuttle to the start and chatted with her. Somehow out of the thousands of people, I ended up standing next to her in the start corral (I ended up in the 15+ min pace corral. That was a <very minor> mistake on my part). She started to take a selfie and I leaned in over her shoulder and smiled. She turned so I wouldn’t be in the shot. Guess we didn’t bond as much as I thought.
The race actually started on time. Everyone I talked to said they were notorious for starting late so I was glad to realize we would get started when expected. It took about a minute and a half to actually cross the start line but then the crowd spread out pretty quickly. I decided not to use my timer app since but since headphones were allowed, I turned on some music, put in one ear bud and decided to run a song/walk a song. That worked out really well. At one point I frantically thought “I am NOT WARMING UP!” then realized only about ten minutes had passed. I spent most of the first mile weaving around and passing people. My first mile pace was 12 mins. And let me tell you, that is fast for me. I’ve seen that pace only a couple of other times, when I was only out for a mile or two and was pushing pretty hard. I knew I needed to pull it back but I didn’t feel like I was putting out that much effort. And I still wasn’t warm.
By mile 2 I had unzipped my jacket about halfway and had settled in with the people I would stay with through most of the race. At the mile 3 aid station I stopped briefly to take off my jacket and tie it around my waist. And then realized I felt really good and was excited to keep going. Normally at mile 3 I’m hating life and glad that I only signed up for a 5k. Between mile 4 & 5 (or somewhere in there) starts an uphill climb. I did not do ANY hill training so I had already planned to walk that. I did. And I was perfectly fine with that. Approaching mile 5 I started running again. A woman I had been leap-frogging with the whole time was passing me again and I happened to actually look directly at her at the same time she looked over at me. We recognized each other from triathlon training and she asked how I was feeling. I shrugged and said “I feel good….REALLY good actually!” I was shocked to realize we were approaching the last, literal downhill, stretch. And I felt amazing. About a quarter mile later my hips started to complain a bit but nothing that hindered me. Just a noticeable little complaint. And then suddenly, I was down the hill and entering the finishing chute….and my left calf cramped up. My first thought was “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!?” My second was a mental comment directly to my leg. “Well. You are just going to have to work this out on your own because I am NOT stopping for you. We are almost done and we are running this in so deal with it.”
And….obviously my leg and I were still having that battle to the bitter end. But when I crossed the line I still thought “That was easy!” immediately followed by “Whose thought was that? Why would I think something so disgusting?!!? But maybe I could do a half in the spring….”
I have since ordered a race fuel belt that will hold my race numbers (great for tri) but I don’t have to carry a water bottle in my hand (awkward). So I guess I’m serious about doing more of these crazy things.
Total time 1:20:44, average pace was approximately 13 mins/mile. What?!!? I have no idea how I maintained that pace over 6.2 miles. And still felt GOOD.