Better than I could have imagined. I think that adequately sums up my experience running a 5K for the first time last Saturday.
The weather that morning was very mild, unlike previous years that caused me to bundle up tightly when volunteering early on race day. With my husband and his mother accompanying me, I was a bundle of nerves prior to the race starting. But there were plenty of friendly, familiar faces surrounding me as well. Parents of students I have taught, the students themselves, co-workers, and friends from church all showed their support when I walked by with that number pinned to my shirt. I don’t know how it would feel in any other race where I don’t know as many people. I felt like I had the homecourt advantage.
The race itself was a bit more grueling than my training had prepared me. Whereas I was able to run a full 3 miles without stopping to walk earlier that week, the course of this race featured three very prominent hills that made it difficult to not stop and walk for a bit. With that said, I was just glad I didn’t get lost. Seeing a course outlined on a map didn’t give me much confidence that I would remember where to turn. There were plenty of signs and volunteers along the way that pointed me in the right direction though.
At the beginning, I had to talk myself down from throwing up, my excitement and bowl of cereal were that high in my system. Though it didn’t take me too long to find my rhythm and settle into my usual pace. My excitement rose again as I crested the final hill and saw the long, straight road to the finish line. That was the best part of all. A moment I will truly cherish. Kids I knew from school lined the street and held out their hands for me to slap as I ran by. Voices cheered and hands clapped as my strides got longer and faster toward the final turn towards the end of the line. A broad smile across my face can be seen in every picture that was snapped of me coming through the inflated arch that marked the end of the race. The older couple that I know from church that took pictures and cheered my name e-mailed those pictures to both my pastor and principal later that day! There was so much pride felt as I finished the race. I know my small family in attendance were proud. And so were the members of my extended family who were with me that day, albeit from a long distance away, keeping in touch with texted updates.
My performance that morning ended up taking me 45 minutes exactly, which put me 4th out of the 8 women in my age group. Much to my surprise, I was only 38 seconds behind the 3rd place finisher. Being pleased with myself for just finishing the race (and not coming in last–though that would have been ok too) is accomplishment enough for me. I set a goal, and I achieved it. I worked hard to train and have come a long way physically since I began. That same evening, I downloaded the 5K to 10K app. I’ll complete day 2 of that training tomorrow.