Despite the knowledge I know about how good running can be for your heart, I still only find myself running once every few months. As I began delving deeper into my fitness journey, I realized that if I wanted to be truly committed to my health and fitness I was going to have to start incorporating more cardio into my routine. I decided to start with the C25K app and reached out to some girls who were interested in building their own running skills with the program for an accountability group.
Earlier in the year my aunt invited me to run with her in a 10K she was doing, which would be the Surf City 10K we did this past weekend. Of course I knew a 10K would be a bit ambitious for my current running abilities and even though I would only be on week 5 of the 8 week program by the time of the race, I agreed to run the 5K option.
I really admire my aunt for all the progress she has made with running. She’s gotten active and healthy through a new found love of moving her feet forward. She does half marathons and hopes to do a full marathon someday. She has really come a long way in her running journey so it was impossible for me to say no!
Plus having a race set kept me more motivated and accountable to stay on track with the program! So I kept dragging myself up and onto the treadmill, the track, and sometimes the street to get in my runs. During my trainings I had great days and sometimes less great days. I never once ran more than two miles during the C25K program, so as the race came closer I grew nervous that I might not be able to complete the distance without stopping.
The Night Before:
I was super nervous. I had been keeping to my workouts but hadn’t been running as much because I hurt my knee earlier the week prior. I tried to clear my head of these thoughts. Even though I hadn’t ran for so long, I had run many 3 miles races and 5ks before. So I kept this in mind and regularly chanted positive mantras in my head when it came to my running abilities.
I took myself to bed at a decent hour to avoid any fatigue the next morning and to make sure I didn’t press the snooze button on my alarm, missing the whole race entirely! I even had a crazy dream that night that my aunt texted me saying she didn’t want to go anymore!
Race Day Wake-Up:
I pressed snooze on my alarm button and was having the thought of how nice it was I didn’t have to get up out of bed because my aunt no longer wanted to go, smiling I was wrapping myself further in the blankets to sleep. Luckily I quickly jumped out of bed knowing how crazy a notion this was! It had to be a dream! I got out of bed, put on my race clothes I had laid out the night before, and made my strawberry Shakeology for breakfast. I always make sure to eat something before a race; otherwise I start to feel dizzy and weak while running! Out the door I went in complete darkness at 6 a.m.
Surprisingly the whole way to the race I was calm. I was calm as I saw my aunt off on her 10K. Calm as I waited in line for my bib number. Calm as I walked on over to the 5k start line.
Race Day Warm-Up:
It wasn’t until I saw the mile time poles the pacers were to run with that I grew a little anxious. I looked around and frantically rattled my brain. Sadly my thoughts were, “How slow of a mile pace am I going to run?” My initial mile time when I began to run was 10 minutes. This had fallen to about 11 minutes after I stopped running in high school. I hadn’t timed my runs in so long now though I had no idea what I could run at. My perspective of my abilities to run was not a positive one at this time, and I quickly realized I was psyching myself out. So I just walked to a spot oblivious of the pace times and started to warm up.
I looked up at the sky and was happy to see an overcast of clouds covering the sun. I was cold, yes but my aunt had given me some awesome Asics arm warming sleeves I didn’t even know existed that did wonders to keep me warm! I knew that hot, sunny weather would be a horrendous journey for me and wasn’t sure I would have been able to pull through the race in its entirety with the sun beating down on me. I focused on my butt kicks and high knees as I tried to set my music. I had forgotten my iPod and had to settle for Spotify, which frustratingly failed to work correctly. So I was going to run with no music this race. No big deal. I had been running my runs without music with the use of the C25K app anyways. I thought instead of things I could think of while I ran. Blog posts, goals, my performance, what I was going to do that day.
I started to listen to the announcer, counting down the minutes. I looked around to see all the people running with me, some younger some older. There were men, women, and children even some strollers. Then it happened, the race started.
I tried to remind myself not to let the start get the best of me and pace myself. I moved my feet forward and started to run. I was happy for the simplicity of my first comeback race, down one side of the street and u-turn back the other. I tried to pace myself with people but they just got some crazy surge of energy and I watched them get further and further away. I tried not to compare my performance with others, because it usually discourages me immensely. I saw people pass me and people walking ahead of me. I tried to push forward but couldn’t catch up and keep the pace. Even though I try not to let these realities poison my thoughts, it is disheartening.
I always have this horrendous fear of being the last person, not because I think last place is anything to be ashamed of. I mean someone has to take it. Mostly because I feel like others expect more from me, and I expect more from me. I tried not to let this fear get me. I saw the 10 milers and 10k-ers on the other side of the street and tried to keep my stride steady and breathing controlled. My aunt would most likely be passing me as she neared the end of her own journey. I tried looking for her to distract myself from my own run, but couldn’t spot her.
I heard others talking about how much we’d run to one another on their watches. One mile barely. Two miles almost. I started to feel a burning sensation in my legs. I was already getting sore. I’ve never been sore during a race before, sometimes I even feel my mind disconnect from my body, but not this time. I kept going of course feeling my shins start to ache. Then my thighs and then calves.
Eventually I noticed the 5k-ers starting to head the other way too. I saw people on the other side cheering us on that we were almost there. So I kept going. My mouth grew dry and I was thankful for the water station! I usually like small little cups for enough water to just wet my lips without stopping but these were much bigger so I tried to gulp fast and not slow down.
When I finally hit the turn around point I was so tired! I thought of my accountability group. How I wanted to be able to share with them how I finished my run without stopping and that they were going to do the same when their races came. I thought about the 5ks I had done before. I tried keeping my breathing as calm as I could and pushing my legs despite the growing soreness. I wanted to stop, I did, but I didn’t. I kept moving.
At one point I realized I was running with my head down, filled with some shame deep inside that I wasn’t moving faster. It was at this moment that I told myself that I was going to complete this race running until the end. I told myself that even if it took me 50 long slow minutes, I was going to finish this race proud because I was going to push forward all the effort I could.
It was at this point I picked up my head and reminded myself where I was. I was filled with a sort of serenity and determination as my eyes met with my surroundings. I can’t really imagine a time when the beach is ever empty during the day. Whether it was or not that day though that is how I saw it. I saw an empty pier with quiet waves swooshing on unoccupied sand. It was beautiful. I realized at that moment that I needed to expose myself more to my surroundings. I needed to let my legs run free outdoors not limited by the treadmill belt or find myself uninspired by the indoor tracks repetitiveness. I needed to get out and explore not only the views around me but the abilities within me.
After this I looked forward and saw people cheering. I couldn’t see the finish line but I knew it was there and I started to push myself even harder. I started heaving for air and at one point I was even convinced I might be having a heart attack. My chest hurt, my legs burned, but I knew that the pain would stop. It did, and I didn’t. I kept moving and when I saw the finish I started to exert the last bits of energy I could even. At one point I swear I almost even cried. Seeing my feet run over the last mark of the race I felt free. I was done. I was heaving harder than anyone else around me but I didn’t care. I had put in my effort. I had earned my medal. I treated myself to a banana and water afterwards, sitting to collect myself before I met my aunt.
I did my best not to focus on my time, because I knew it wasn’t the best that I wanted to be capable of. When I passed the finish line the clock at the top read 40:04. Ten whole minutes slower than what I was use to.
Overall Place: 402 of 731
Female: 241 of 502
Age Group: 37 of 59
During my run I felt like I was heavier and older than I am, but after I felt strong in my body’s performance. I moved forward without fail and only plan to continue doing so. Even though I didn’t meet my best time, I feel that this run really opened up my eyes to where I am, where I want to be, and what I need to do to get there, because I can and will.
Today’s post was inspired by Wednesday Word hosted by Deb Runs.
A new word every week to inspire your blog content. This week’s word was perspective. This was so fitting in my desire to share my thoughts and viewpoint on and throughout my run. Thank you for sharing this experience with me.
What have been some of your favorite runs or races?
Were there any special moments you were able to witness a view or thought that resonated with you and altered your perspective?