So remember how I decided to train for a 5k and I thought I was going to die, and I was miserable and I had the mother of all running mood swings? Well, I finally ran my first 5k race this weekend and I have to say, I'm pleasantly surprised (read: Holy Crap am I shocked!) at my transformation and my results.
**Warning: Boring running training information ahead. I went from running a mile in 14 minutes to running a mile in at around 10:30 . I went from thinking I was going to die after only a mile and a half to running just over three miles pretty gamely and easily. Before I started training, I was pretty convinced I'd be walking that last half-mile. Instead, I ran the whole thing, and I put in my personal best time to date!
I think a lot of that had to do with the experience and the cause for which I was running. I had never run a race before and I really had no idea what to expect. I just knew I needed to pick a race that was benefiting a charity I could get behind. So we found the Run Because You Can race. This race benefits the Runnin' For Rhett organization, which was founded by a family who lost their little boy in circumstances very similar to the way we lost Ukiah. How could I not get behind that? All of the decorations and race t-shirts were baby blue, like Ukiah's eyes. That's really all I needed to sign on.
The race itself was unlike anything I'd ever experienced. At first I was a little intimidated. When the hubbie and I run, it's by ourselves on a very deserted stretch of neighborhood. I'd never been in a mass of people like that, and I really didn't know how I'd manage running in a group. But everybody was cool. People who wanted to pass us did, people who were slower let us pass. I didn't find it intimidating at all. In fact, I felt a kind of confidence in numbers. All those people running around me buoyed me and made me feel confident in my abilities, motivating me. Also motivating? The bag-piper in a kilt. You guys know how I feel about kilts. I may or may not have made my feelings known about bag-pipers, but I'll briefly explain anyway. I think they are completely awesome! He was stationed at a turn in the first mile and he made me completely happy. That is he made me happy until I realized one of my shoes was fully untied and I was slipping out of my shoe and telling my husband that I had to stop and tie it was going to piss him off. And it did. I don't know why he was so bent out of shape though, because I spotted three other racers that had the same footwear problem, but oh well. After I got it tied, he put the hammer down pace wise, consciously or sub-consciously punishing me for not checking my shoes before the race.
Fighting Nun doesn't want to admit this about himself, but thanks to years of playing soccer, he feels this innate need to keep up with or pace the guy in front of him, which means he started going a lot faster than I'd ever gone with him. Until I successfully got him to pull back a little, it was a punishing pace. There was a kid, not more than thirteen that would put the pedal to metal, pass us, then walk and we'd pass him and then he'd starting running flat out again. I think my husband was trying to match that little pain in the ass's pace! At that point, I had no idea how far we had gone because I had forgotten the GPS watch at home and I knew I had to pace myself for the finish. At about the halfway mark, I heard a fellow racer say it was the halfway mark and I breathed a sigh of relief.
At the 2 mile mark, there was a watering station. Fighting Nun had been carrying a water bottle for me and I felt getting water at the water station was an advanced maneuver so I demurred. Fighting Nun got a gatorade from the station, tried drinking it while running, failed and threw the drink away at the earliest possible trash can. At about the 2.5 mark, there was an overpass that winded me and took my pace down a little, but then I saw a crush of people at nearby walking bridge that signified that we were near the end. My daughter and my father-in-law were the only two people there for us at the end of the race, and I doubted very much to hear any cheering. But that's thing, everybody cheered for everybody. Before I stepped on the mat that timed us, they actually announced our names over the loud speaker and a huge cheer erupted from the crowd. I smiled and waved and was completely in awe. Thankful to be done, we kissed our daughter at the end, grabbed some water, fruit and cookies and made our way to the car. I was so thrilled to be done, to have completed the thing, to have been part of something bigger than myself. Hopefully I'll do it again.