I did it!!!! I ran my first 10K on Saturday, October 2. The day started out really early at around 4:30 AM. I figured parking was going to be a pain and the race started at 7:15 so I wanted to be there by 6:00. That would give me time to figure out where I needed to go, get stretched out and warmed up, soak up the atmosphere, and be ready to go by start time.
It was a cool and windy 45 degrees at start time but I was dressed for it so it really wasn't too bad. There were 1,300 runners total (I think 850 were in the half marathon and 450 in the 10K but I am not sure). When the race started it was just beginning to get light outside and it was absolutely beautiful.
The race began and I was off for my first 10K. I quickly set into a comfortable pace and watched as everyone else passed me up. I did not worry about the people passing me though as I was there to run my race and I knew I could not even begin to keep up with them so I didn't try. Before long, I got a tap on my back and someone says "You Rock". I turned to see who it was and it was one of my racing buddies, Sam. I said thanks as she, and another one of our friends Kim, ran on by me and disappeared off in the distance.
At mile 1 I was at 11:30 minutes. I thought hey, that's not too bad but I need to pick up the pace a little. I was shooting for an average 10 minute mile pace but I knew 11:00-12:00 minutes/mile pace was more realistic. I thought if nothing else I at least need to keep this pace. I felt good at that point and I thought I really can do this.
Not long after the first mile marker I saw Abby. Abby was one of my Team In Training (TNT) running coaches who helped me train for the 10K. She and the other coaches and staff were out on the course at various places cheering me and the other TNT runners on. It was so great seeing her the first time and hearing her cheer for me. It really helped me keep my motivation and focus and helped me to keep going.
Just before mile 2 we had a nice downhill run. I thought woohoo, time to make up a little lost time. As I started down the hill I did pick up my pace a little, but not so much that I would end up falling and rolling down the hill. I had practiced on hills but I don't think I practiced on any quite like that one. At the bottom of the hill we rounded the corner and headed up a hill, the only real uphill of the course. Before I got to the top of the hill I heard someone yelling from the other side of the road. I looked and it was Sam and Kim cheering for me again. I smiled and waved at them and kept on going. Those two amaze me and have been a huge encouragement to me as I have started into the running and racing world.
Once I reached the top of the hill I was at mile 2 and the TNT staff were there once again cheering me on. It was great seeing and hearing them. This time, though, it was all of them and not just Abby. It was Abby, Dana, Jill, and a few others. They were ringing cow bells, clapping, and cheering long before I got there. How cool is that!! At this point, the route took us up a ramp, and over a glass enclosed tunnel over the road and back down a ramp to the other side of the road. It was so amazing running through the tunnel over the road. Definitely a highlight of the race.
At this point, I am going back down hill so I picked up my pace again just a little but not to the point of overdoing it. I was still feeling really good at this point. I was about half way down the hill when I saw two other TNT runners coming around the corner to head up the hill. When I got close enough I yelled at them and told them good job. I let them know they were almost there and it was all downhill on this side of the road. The yelled and waved back.
Before long I was coming up on mile marker 3 which meant more water. I took water at each aid station and I was ready for more at this one as well. I knew this would be the last aid station until about mile 5 so I took a cup and water and drank it all. This time, however, we got more than the usual water, gels, gatorade, etc. we also got live music. There was a group from the festival playing blues music at this aid station. It was fun having live music on the route while I was running. It didn't last long enough though. Since I was running without headphones the live music was even better and I could enjoy it without being distracted with my own music.
At this point we entered the MKT trail which was a dirt and gravel mix trail. It was shady and flat and easy running. I focused on trying to keep a steady pace and to keep running. At this point though there was a group of us that kept passing each other. I would pass one or two of them and then they would pass me back. Then someone else would pass me and I would pass them back. I finally decided I was going to keep pace with a guy in front of me and not let him get too far ahead of me. This worked pretty well, even will all of the passing, which I think went on for most of miles 3-5.
Mile 3-4 was probably by best mile with a 10 minute mile pace. Somewhere around mile 4 my toes started cramping on the bottom of my foot. I decided to slow down and even walked more than I wanted to to try to get the cramping to stop. No luck though so I started running again just at a slower pace.
I finally reached mile 5 and the TNT crew was there again along with the final aid station. I was so glad to have the TNT crew there cheering for me at this point. It made all the difference for me. I figured this would be the last time I would see them so as I went by I gave them all high fives. Also, at this point we had live music again. This time it was a jazz saxophone player and he was a big, tall dude. After I gave all of the TNT group high fives he stopped playing and put his hand up for me to give him a high five too and told me good job or something. That was definitely another highlight of the race for me.
Five miles down, a little over a mile to go. I can do this right!? I was doing this! I looked at my watch and I knew I needed to get going if I wanted to reach my goal time. I also knew at this point I needed to keep running and not walk, no matter what or I wouldn't make my time. I knew I had a chance at making it but only if I kept running and kept a good pace. I knew if I did make my goal time it was going to be close. So off I go thinking I am almost there and I can do it.
Before long, I could hear the music at the finish line and I got back on the paved part of the MKT trail and I knew it wasn't much further. No stopping now. I didn't train and put in all the time and effort that I did to go to the race to stop, I went to the race to finish and finish is exactly what I was going to do! I tried to pick up the pace a little but I just couldn't do it. I wanted to save what I did have left for the finish.
I could hear the music and I could hear people cheering and the excitement started growing even stronger. Around the corner, through the tunnel, up the hill, and across the road. I can now see the finish line and the clock, but I could not see the time on the clock. Oh well, time to kick it in gear and finish strong, and smile (NOT!) at the photographer taking finish line shots. As I was entering the gate to the finish line I heard my mom cheering for me. I waved, smiled, and gave her a thumbs up as I crossed the finish line. Having my mom cheering for me at the finish line was definitely the biggest highlight of the race.
As soon as I crossed the finish line I was handed my ticket for the BBQ lunch and someone started taking the timing chip off of my shoe. He was having quite the time getting it off though. I put it on to stay because I wanted to get my time at the end of the race. I looked at my watch and stopped it about a minute or so after I finished. My watch said 1 HR 15.30.40. I still wasn't sure what my official time was but at that point I knew I had met my goal. I never did see a time on the race clock.
I found my mom and she congratulated me and told me good job and asked me what my time was. I said I wasn't sure but by my watch it was an hour and 15 minutes. She said, so you met your goal then and I said yes I did.
Post-race I went and got my official time and I finished in 1:14:31 and was 50th in my age division and 442nd overall. I also ate my BBQ lunch for breakfast, got a 15 minute massage, and spent the rest of the weekend with my mom and other family. We also had our TNT celebration dinner that evening and I received a micro-fleece pull-over jacket from TNT for being the top fund-raiser on my team. I raised just over $1,100 and the minimum I had to raise was $500. It was a great weekend and I am ready to do it again.
What's on the radar next? I am not sure right now. However, I am looking at maybe doing the Go St. Louis Half Marathon on April 10, 2011.
Ultimate Goal: 1 hour.
Realistic Goal: 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, shooting for 1:15.
Actual Results: 1:14:31, 30 seconds under my goal time and a PR.
TNT Fund raising Goal: $500
Actual Raised: Just over $1,100 and top fund-raiser on my team.
This is me crossing the finish line.