Of course it wouldn't be "normal"
Saturday, July 16, 2011
This was the big day. My first 5K. Months of training. Weeks of anticipation. Two nights of interrupted sleep due to excitement. I've read all the articles so I would know what to expect. I read and re-read the registration information and directions. I had mailed in my registration, so all I had to do was show up and receive my number.
OK, so the registration was from 7:00 - 8:30 this morning in Abingdon, VA. The race was held at mile marker 1 of the Virginia Creeper Trail and started at 8:45. I live about an hour from Abingdon and am fairly familiar with the town. I ride bikes on the Creeper often, but haven't ventured to the beginning of the trail and wasn't sure where it started. How hard could it be?
Hard. Well, hard if you are me. I found a website that had the exact longitude and latitude numbers for mile marker 1. Perfect! I'll use my handy, dandy gps to direct myself to the exact location. Entered the coordinates. Double checked them. Charged the GPS overnight. Left my house at 7:10. NO worries.
My GPS is named Darlene. She took me to a quaint little double-wide mobile home on the top of a knoll about 3 miles from the heart of Abingdon. I have no idea why she did this. I kept thinking - this can't be right, but continued on - certain that the trail head must be just ahead. Fortunately, the double-wide was at the end of the road. It's now 8:10 and I start to panic just a bit. I turn around and head back to town. I see a caboose off main street. Creeper trail used to be railroad - I must be close. I find a parking area - lots of people - lots of activity - this must be it! No, I managed to find the local farmer's market. I ask several people before I find a man who tells me how to get to a park near the trail. It's now 8:23.
I run to the car and start to cry (isn't that what all mature people do?). I knew I would miss the whole thing and felt so DUMB. I found the parking area, but no racers. I start walking down the trail and see a man who could possibly be Kenyan. He thankfully recognized me as a potential runner (how he discerned that, I have no idea considering my less than athletic body). He states that the racers are lined up down the trail. I missed registration, but I might catch them. Mile marker 1 - that would be a mile down the trail and it's after 8:30. I speed walk to the start of the race. I find a group of about 70 incredibly fit people standing around. They all have their race numbers neatly attached to their fronts. A couple acknowledge me. OK, so I'll just run with them. It will be a pretend first 5K since I'm not official. Within minute, the gun goes off and I'm swept away with the group.
Not for long. OK, I was with the group about 15 seconds. This flock of skinny people with bulging muscles and really cool fitness wear take off. I am left with two very nice ladies close to my age. One is ahead of me and one falls in behind me. I run. Oh I run like the wind. OK, so not like the wind as you will see my finish time. But, I did run. It began to rain. I felt like a real athlete - running despite the elements. After a while, I see the finish line. I sprint. I cross! They ask me who in the world I am and why don't I have a number? I explain and they kindly gave me my official time of 36.08 minutes. I asked for the race number which they had left at the beginning of the race. Oh well. I was there. I did complete it. It counts in my book. One sweet runner crossed just a bit after I did. We congratulate each other and guzzle some water.
It then dawns on me that the start line is 3.1 miles back. The finish line people explained that the shuttle bus had already left and that many of the racers just ran back to the start line to "cool down". OK. This is not possible for me. It took all I had to cross the finish line. I start having visions of rolling myself back to the front. No worries, they sent someone to send the bus back (OK - that makes you feel kind of dumb). About 40 minutes later, here comes a little bus. The little bus driver carries me and my new running buddy Debbie back to our cars.
Thankfully, there was a restroom not far from where he dropped us off. I kind of had to pee before the whole thing started, but was so stressed out that I skipped that part. As I exited the facility, I see another little table covered by a canopy. I then see a little tupperware box. It's the race numbers! I am a rule abiding goodie two shoes kind of gal. But, temptation overcame me. I open the box and found numbers 62 and 63 lying there - unclaimed. I paid my registration fee. I was probably considered a 'no-show' since I got lost. I grabbed # 62 and wrote my time in on the back. Hey, it was my first race. I really wanted the little number thingie to keep as a souvenir.
It wasn't normal, but it was fun and I can't wait to try again - in a familiar location, on time and after peeing.