I ran my first "real" race on Thanksgiving this year with my friend Julie. It was a five mile turkey trot. I'd been training for it for about two and a half months, and I felt relatively confident that I'd finish in about an hour and fifteen/twenty minutes or so, and do so without being in severe pain. :)
Now I'm new to jogging - I'm more of a biker, having done several long bike tours in the past (the longest was 70 miles) - but I was ready to cover some ground on foot. I enjoyed being in the crowd and really fed off the energy and adrenaline that was flying around that morning. My boyfriend Matt helped me stretch, gave me non-stop pep-talks and was there to capture the moment in pictures. Julie was convinced that I'd do this thing in an hour or less. Well, considering that my training miles were typically around 13/14/15 minutes, I was less confident.
At the gun we took off, and it was really exciting to push off with all of those other runners/joggers. YES there is a difference between the two (and I'm a jogger)! I felt good and Matt got a shot of us just as we started (see below). I just went with the crowd and found my own pace. AT the first checkpoint my first mile was 12:20, and that really blew me away. I thought at that point that I could pull off an hour run if I just maintained my speed! But wow, it would be a challenge. So be it! :)
Mile two was 24:13 - oh yeah! I couldn't believe it. I really thought that I would have been much slower on my second mile! Go me! I settled in and kept up the pace for the most part, with two minute race-walk "breaks" at the start of each new mile. I was sweating, breathing hard and really working, but I kept it moving. I was kicking butt! And then the three mile mark popped up. I was sure I was pushing closer to a 40 minute time, but the time-keeper called out 35:20! Whoa! I couldn't believe it! How the hell had I had an even faster mile at that point??? At that very moment I decided that I was going to bring it in under an hour. I don't know how I got the nerve to do that, but I did. It helped that people who lived along the route were blasting music from their houses and/or cars. One guy was playing "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen, another was playing the Chariots of Fire song, another was playing some old disco, and LOUD! It all worked for me and got me pumped up!
As a new runner, I had always thought that I was "doing it wrong," or had "bad form," or was clueless in some other way, looked stupid, etc. WELL, that day I realized that I was just like almost everyone else (with the exception of the strongest runners of course). People were sweating, heaving, choking, grunting, groaning, stopping a lot, really pushing themselves - they were all working really hard! OH the humanity! So why did I think this run would only be hard for ME? How silly. Jogging five miles is a test for the human body no matter who you are, and I realized that and felt so much better and stronger. Woo hoo!
Heading for mile four the course passed close by the finish line area, and I saw runners coming in and finishing. At that point I saw my boyfriend again and he got a shot of me with a thumbs up and a smile. I look at the shot now and think "how the hell did I manage to look happy and somewhat together at close to the four mile mark?" Well, I think it's because I was whupping *ss and I knew it! :) What a feeling.
At the fourth mile the guy called out 47:40, and I was like WOW, I have a chance to do this in under an hour!!!! PUUUUSSH! People were lining the streets in some places, and I remember a funny sign that someone was holding that said "Run Like You Have Warrants!" about 250 yards from the finish line. I thought that was hysterical and I wanted to stop and high-five the lady holding it, but I just refocused and pushed on. When I turned to the run-up to the finish-line, I saw the clock and it said 58:32, and I felt a rush of excitement knowing that I'd cross under it before it hit the 60 minute mark. AND I DID! I pulled in an official time of 59:05!!! My boyfriend got my photo as I crossed (there's a girl in a blue t-shirt right in front of me - darn!)and I'm looking down at my feet but there's a smile on my face because I was truly happy and felt amazing. :0) I didn't break any official records but I did so much better than I ever have and that is such an accomplishment! Matt hugged me and he was tearing up just like me. It was a wonderful moment. We waited for my friend Julie to finish (she came in at 1:01) and we all just hugged and celebrated and then munched on free mini bagels.
I look forward to my next race, a 5K on December 5th. Oh I can't wait! :)