Well this is going to be a blog based on firsts: I wish I could say the firsts are related to my race time, however they’re more geared towards this being my first blog ever. I feel like blogging about my first race couldn’t be a better way to kick it off either.
About two months ago I was asked whether or not I would be interested in running in a race for charity. I was told the race was in November to raise money towards an inner-city mission (Helping Hands Street Mission) that’s run by good friends of mine from church. To be honest I had never even considered running in a race before and didn’t know what it would take to compete. I was faced with the choice between a 5k and a 10k (which my friend had chosen to run). There was a part of me that said “10k-that’s no problem, I used to play sports. That’ll be a walk in the park.” The smarter half of me was saying, “Don’t be ridiculous-you would be lucky if you could make it to the stop sign and back.” So I decided to go with my gut on that and signed up for my first 5k.
[image img=”http://runbydesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/r2h_5k_thumb__0000_Layer-4.jpg” url=”http://runbydesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/r2h_5k__0000_Layer-4.jpg” rounded=”all” alt=”Mid-Run”/]
[image img=”http://runbydesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/r2h_5k_thumb__0001_Layer-3.jpg” url=”http://runbydesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/r2h_5k__0001_Layer-3.jpg” rounded=”all” alt=”Sprint!”/]
[image img=”http://runbydesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/r2h_5k_thumb__0003_Layer-1.jpg” url=”http://runbydesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/r2h_5k__0003_Layer-1.jpg” rounded=”all” alt=”Me’n’Ellen”/]
[image img=”http://runbydesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/r2h_5k_thumb__0002_Layer-2.jpg” url=”http://runbydesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/r2h_5k__0002_Layer-2.jpg” rounded=”all” alt=”Pure Gold”/]
I knew that some training would have to be involved to be able to finish the race. Being naive at this point I didn’t like the sound of training. I liked the thought of, “I’ll take jog around the block a couple times before the race and just make sure I still have a little bit of gas in the tank.” Luckily I knew Sven was an avid runner and knew his stuff in regards to stretching and training and basically just running in general. (If Sven had a dollar for every question I asked about running he would be a millionaire by now-Sven don’t get any ideas!) Sven guided me in the right direction with a seven-week 5k training schedule. I stuck to it pretty close, probably not as close as I should have, but again at this point I was still thinking I was already prepared and could run the race the next day if I had to. If I could go back now I probably would have stuck to the schedule a lot more, however just getting into running and trying to fit my pre-existing schedule around it was a bit of a struggle for me.
[blockquote align=”left”]”I came to a realization: I’m not living in the peak physically conditioned body I thought I was”[/blockquote]
My first run was with my girlfriend Ellen and it was only one kilometer-ONLY ONE KILOMETER!-what a breeze through, right? Wrong! I may not have shown it to Ellen but one kilometer had never felt so long in my life! After that first run I came to a realization: I’m not living in the peak physically conditioned body I thought I was. I now realized I had some serious training to do before this race. The training schedule was generally three days a week (one day on and one day off), which was nice for recovery (due to me using muscles I hadn’t used since I was 16). The training just kept getting better and easier as race day crept closer. My comfort level as a runner went up substantially in those seven weeks; I went from not being able to run to the stop sign and back without struggling to running 5k’s comfortably. I had only run 5k twice near the end of my seven-week schedule and both times finished in around 26 minutes. It was coming close to race day and I was feeling quite confident about my time and even more about my ability to finish the race and run it strong.
Well it was November 6th, the day I had been looking forward to for the last two months; it was a cold morning but the skies were clear with no signs of rain. I had a cup of yoghurt and an apple for breakfast that morning. I didn’t want to over- or under-eat and I felt very content with that for my pre-race meal. A group of us piled into the car and headed down to the waterfront for the race.
We got to the event and I got suited up in the cold for my first race ever while thinking, “Am I really about to do this?” Ellen and I rushed to the bathroom before the race began and luckily piled into the corral at the last minute. Next race I definitely want to be more prepared time-wise: we found ourselves at the back of the pack this time around. It wasn’t a huge deal but it took some careful weaving through the walking traffic for a good part of the first half kilometer. After that it was off to the races, my adrenaline was absolutely pumping through my body. I was doing it: I was actually running in an official race. I tried to stick to the outside for the first 1.5k to try and figure out my pace, although I found a pretty good pace right off the get-go and felt great with the way the race was going.
In training I usually felt like I was hitting a bit of a “wall” at 3.5k but in the race I didn’t feel any fatigue at that point at all-which was great because I didn’t have to play many mind games to keep motivated. I think that was mostly a result of being so pumped to come around the next corner to see if any friends were there to cheer me on, and for the most part they were. I got to about 3.5k and started to see what looked like people training for the 10k running in the opposite direction, until I realized that was the front of the pack. I knew I didn’t have much further to go, so I picked up my pace a touch and carried on. I was at the bend where you start to circle back into the last stretch and I knew I was somewhere around 4k but wasn’t sure exactly how much further I had to the finish line. [blockquote align=”right”]”I couldn’t help but pick up my pace even more knowing I was only a couple strides away from finishing my first race.”[/blockquote] As a result I really wasn’t too sure how much to pick up my pace for that last stretch. I picked up my pace anyways thinking of crossing that finish line. On the last bend there was a woman cheering everyone on while banging on a bongo as fast as she could. I couldn’t help but pick up my pace even more knowing I was only a couple strides away from finishing my first race. The finish was in sight and I could see the time and I was under 25 minutes with about 100 meters left to go. Sven and his wife Sarah were right there screaming for me to finish strong. I did just that. I ran as strong as I could right across the finish line. I knew I had crossed at around 25 minutes but wasn’t sure how different that was from my chip time. I was super excited about that pace. Before the race I decided my goal was that I wanted to be within 15 seconds of 25 minutes (earlier or later). My final chip time for my first 5 km race was 24:35. I couldn’t be happier.
I can’t get enough of the adrenaline high you experience when you are running and people you don’t even know are cheering you on. All your friends are cheering for you and you can’t wait to see them when you’re coming around that last bend to the finish line. If it wasn’t for people cheering me on and having that support I don’t think I would have been anywhere near the time I finished in and I wouldn’t have finished feeling as good and strong as I did.
I plan on feeding my desire to run. I recently signed up for another 5k that I’ll be running this weekend-the Hanukkah Hustle. I feel ready for this race even though I haven’t trained as hard as I wanted to. I know, call me a hypocrite, I’m fully aware that I said if I could have changed one thing about my training last time it would be that I would of stuck to the schedule more. It’s been hard on this two-week schedule to do that, due to work this last two weeks I haven’t had the desire or energy to come home and train after my long shifts. That’s something I’ll have to get more comfortable with, and I am more than eager to do that.
I’m planning on running as many races as I can to keep my motivation moving forward. I think its safe to say I am doing that with one foot in front of the other already.
[info_box_1 title=”Race Stats”]
Terrain: Mostly flat with gentle rolling hills on pavement – on the waterfront.
Shoes: Adidas AdiZero Ace
Overall Place: 106/648
Gender Place: 74/241
Age Group Place: 5/10