Well, I did it! I ran my first (official) 5k race!
Super exciting. It was...amazing. Truly amazing. And so much more than I could have hoped for. I was incredibly nervous beforehand and my stomach was in knots, but it turned out there was really nothing to be worried about!
The night before, my partner and I made a list of everything we wanted to bring with us and wrote out a little itinerary outlining exactly what we were gonna do and when we were gonna do it (making lists and writing schedules severely reduces my anxiety, lol). We made sure everything was ready to go and then barely slept at all, haha. I was so nervous/excited that I just couldn't sleep.
But we got up nice and early (5am) to start the day. We had your typical runner's breakfast- a bagel and banana- and suited up. Around 6:30 we caught a ride to the subway station and hopped the train into Manhattan. About an hour later, we got out on 72nd and made our way to Central Park West to pick up our bibs. Since we were there so early, there was no wait and it wasn't too crowded. We wandered down to the bathrooms and walked around Survivor's Village and the Race Expo (and got a TON of free stuff! awesome) before heading up to check our baggage near Strawberry Fields. Then we warmed up and jumped in line to start the race!
There were SO MANY PEOPLE! Ah! It was madness. But good, cheerful, energetic madness. We lined up near the end of the runners since our pace isn't very fast. It took us nearly 8 minutes just to get TO the start line, haha. Once we crossed, the speed definitely picked up and everyone started weaving around each other. The first mile was easy as cake. We managed to maintain our pace, despite all the excitement, which was great. About 1.5 miles in, I got a wicked side stitch that didn't go away until....oh, the end. Fun. It made the run more difficult, but not impossible. But let me tell you....HILLS. Whoa. I do not run hills....I run on mostly very flat land and the occasional "dip" or two. But Central Park has some very respectable hills! To be honest though, I actually really liked them. It breaks up the monotony by giving you a challenge, followed by a "break" (the downhill part). Its such a mental rush to get to the top of the hill, level off, and then cruise down the other side.
The only thing I didn't really like was the walk/run chaos. It was supposed to be separated- runners on left, walkers on right...but I don't think that was communicated very well because everyone was sorta everywhere. For the majority of the race, it wasn't a big deal, but once in a while you'd get stuck behind these runners who started off at a sprint but conked out halfway through and were walking. The formed big packs and it was such a hassle to weave around them, especially towards the end when you're tired as heck! I imagine this is probably not so serious in an actual competitive race where people are mostly running? Oh and I can't forget the horses. Geesh. Central Park is full of horse-drawn carriages, which is fine. But they were on our running path (to the far right) and OMG. Let me tell you, there was a good quarter-mile stretch where it smelled AWFUL...I swear, it was like there was horse poop in my mouth. GROSS. I told my running buddy that and we both just cracked up laughing.
In the last half-mile, I was hurtin' good. My body was tired and the end seemed SO far away. But I pushed through it and in the last 500 feet, everyone's pumped and the finish line was within sight, where there were spectators cheering and all that jazz. When my bud and I sprinted the last 200 feet, they started playing Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" which is totally our song!! It was so weirdly awesome! We looked at each other and were like "OMG its our song!" like little girls, haha. We were greeted with a lot of cheers and it was just so cool!
I would definitely do it again. In fact, I WILL do it again. I plan on running many more 5ks...and then 10ks, 15ks, half-marathon, and marathons! I am HOOKED on racing! LOVE IT!
Thank you to all my fantastic Spark Friends who have been so incredibly supportive. Thanks for providing inspiration daily and offering up such awesome support to a stranger! It truly means the world to me! You all are who I think of when I think I just can't keep going...and I remember that there are people who believe in me!
And, of course, pictures!!!!!!!!!!
*My victory pose by the fountain in Central Park, right after the race:
*My partner and I with our homemade shirts and some goodies from the expo (note the pink Lady Liberty hat, haha!):
*And finally, all the crazy awesome free stuff we got! LOVE IT: