I have never, in my entire life, been happier or prouder of myself than I was as I crossed the finish line of this morning’s 10K. I felt pure elation. Pure, amazing, perfect elation.
When I told my grandmother that this morning, she asked, “What about your college degree? Or your graduate degree?” My response? “I had to work way harder for this!” Of course, I understand her point. Those were obviously huge accomplishments and they were years and years in the making. The thing is, though, that I never doubted my ability to achieve my academic goals. Yes, school was always something I had to work hard for, but I always knew that I was capable.
I did not always know that I was capable of running. This was something at which I truly had to work. I still have so far to go, but this was a significant milestone for me and the finish line represented a change in myself that I feel incredibly excited about and proud of.
Anyway, I only had two goals going into this race: to finish and to never walk.
I’ll ruin the ending for you. I achieved both goals. 🙂
I didn’t sleep last night. Well, I didn’t sleep much. I sometimes react badly to certain foods, which make my heart beat really fast, and unfortunately that happened to me last night. Lesson learned: don’t try new foods the night before a race! Really, that shouldn’t have to be a lesson. That’s just common sense. Anyway, that kept me up for a few hours despite my purposefully early bedtime and my complete exhaustion from my busy day… and then, I started basically having panic attacks whenever I thought about the race, as I knew I wasn’t getting enough sleep. So that kept me up, too. It was a vicious cycle.
Anyway, I eventually fell asleep. The last time I remember seeing on the clock was 1:57am. When I woke up at six, I told myself I had absolutely slept eight hours and was going to adamantly believe this. And that was that.
So, I changed into my running gear, grabbed the bag full of race items (which I had quadruple-checked last night), made myself some whole wheat toast and spread both pieces with Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Peanut Butter, pulled my coconut water and regular water out of the fridge and hopped in the car.
I only ended up eating one of the slices of toast before the race. I just wasn’t hungry and I was still feeling kind of nervous about eating before running.
I showed up pretty early and got ready for the race by just walking around to get the blood moving a little bit. This was especially necessary because it was chilly.
Finally, it was time to line up!
I’m sure you know where I lined up…
… but really, I felt pretty unabashed about it. I only had room for one overriding feeling, and nervousness easily won that contest.
At the beginning, I was so concerned about other people intimidating me and affecting my pace that I honestly think I ended up going slower than I usually do. So many people were passing me and I was very conscious of not speeding to match their paces, so I kept mine slow and steady. I just did not want to wear myself out and end up having to walk.
Miles 1-4 were… pretty unremarkable. They were great simply because I felt fantastic about being a part of things, that I was one of the runners that standers-by were watching, and that I wasn’t getting tired at all. I was just looking around, getting to know Santa Monica a little better (a part of LA that I had previously kind of disliked – no more!), and enjoying the ride.
One thing I really enjoyed was watching the elite runners finish the race (the race looped, so at around mile 3, we passed the finish line – which was simultaneously cruel and motivating). Those guys are incredible. It was inspiring.
And then… the best part happened.
All of a sudden, at the beginning of mile 5, something came over me. In one incredible moment, I realized how much more I had in me and how much faster I could go. I had been conserving so much energy in the first four miles that I knew if I sped up, I would be able to maintain that speed for at least a good part of the remainder of the race.
So that’s when I started running faster than I had ever run before. And, in a complete surprise to me, I didn’t need to slow at all. I would venture to say I increased my speed to at least running an 11-minute mile, and likely even faster than that. What was really cool about this was that, suddenly, I was the one passing people!
The last 0.2 miles, where I could see the finish line, were the best.
I sprinted. 🙂 And that, my friends, was way faster than I have ever run before. Adrenaline is awesome.
I couldn’t wipe the goofy grin off of my face as I finished or in the minutes afterward.
While grinning, I also made sure I stretched. While doing so, I was looking up at this:
How very SoCal. I’m becoming kind of okay with that. 😉
And then I walked down the Santa Monica Pier to check out the post-race festival:
I grabbed a bunch of Clif Bar samples (the Clif Bar people had cut a bunch of bars up) but didn’t stick around for the pancake breakfast. I was too excited to call my favorite people so I could share in my glory!
When I got home, though, the energy finally left. I crashed. I had run 6.2 miles on less than four hours of sleep, people!
The only bummer: my timing chip was somehow messed up and my time isn’t posted. 😦 According to the website, I ran a 5K… and landed in first place for my age group, running it in 16:52.3 with a 5:26 pace.
No, but really, I hope this issue can be fixed. I want to know my time! If not, I’d guess I ran it in about an hour and 16 minutes. I’ll be kind of bummed to not know my official race time for my first 10K, but it won’t kill me not to know. My guess is educated enough. During miles five and six, I had visions of coming in under an hour and twelve minutes, but I definitely didn’t pace for that in the first four miles and doubt I made up enough time for that in the end.
Sorry there aren’t any pictures of me. I’ll look out for them once official pictures are posted.
Anyway, YAY! I finished my first 10K! Best day ever. 🙂