I have to admit it - 10 minutes before race time I was pacing around, on the phone with my girlfriend, asking "Why do I do this? I'm too slow, it's so embarrassing".
She gently reminded me that I love to run and that this is race is about me and for me, not anyone else. I knew she was right, so I calmed down and lined up.
The gun went off and we started. I checked my watch and saw that I was running an 11:45 pace - that's great for a 5K, but much to fast for a 10k. This is only my second 10K event and I wanted to run strong and steady the whole way.
I settled in at a 13:55 pace and just focused on moving forward. The course was flat but it had tons of turns. The nice part was that the course had tons of volunteers. They must have been posted every 200 yards and they were awesome. Super energetic and encouraging.
At mile 2 I took a 30 second walking break. I repeated that at mile 3.1, 4, and 5.2. Other than that, I ran the event. Miles 3 and 4 were my best. Mile 5 was challenging, but highlighted by a group of friends cheering me on.
I sped up a bit in mile 6 and finished with a new PR of 1:28:52.
After I passed the finish line, a very kind looking older gentleman told I had done really well, put my medal on me, and gave me a great big hug.
You know what? All my initial anxiety about being slow and being embarrassed to finish so late were gone. Instead, I stood there teary-eyed in the gentle, warm arms of this stranger as he kept telling me what a great job I had done.
In that moment it was so clear why I do this. I love to run, but most of all, I love pushing myself to become better and better.
My last 10K was 1:32:11, so I improved by 3:19 :)
Thank you my SP friends for all your encouragement. I thought of you in mile 5 when my body wanted to slow down and you gave me such a boost.