Wednesday, May 6, 2009

So I ran in my first 5K in years on Saturday. Thank you, couch to 5K program! I wouldn't have thought I'd be able to do it, having started running consistently again only two months ago. My goal for this race was simple: run it.

The start time of 10 am (which morphed into 10:15 am) was a little rough. I'm used to running at 6:30 am on an empty stomach. I basically roll out of bed and into my running gear before my brain can wake up and start rationalizing the idea of doing something else instead. I didn't think I'd be able to fake myself out by sleeping in. So, my strategy was that I'd get up early and eat breakfast with enough time left over to let it get through my stomach.

We arrived a half hour early to sign in. We stood around, I stretched, I peed three times (nervous pee syndrome), stretched some more, and was generally bitchy and anxious. Finally, I left Kevin and joined everyone behind the finish line. The start whistle blew at 10:15 and within seconds, well over half the pack passed me.

The route was a there-and-back course along a dirt road lined with sugar maples, with an awesome view of Vermont/New Hampshire hills to the east. The road dipped up and down a couple of times, making long, but not steep, hills. It was warmer than I'd thought it would be (there had been a brisk chilling wind at the start area) and I wound up pretty quickly stripping down to running bra, removing the long sleeve jersey and tying the sleeves around my hips, and putting the race T-shirt back on -- all while running.

Right around then is when the early 5K finishers passed me on their way back. I was both annoyed and inspired by the sight of this one person I know very slightly - a sorta tubby looking guy in his mid-40's - just screaming past me. I had passed a handful of people but by and large, most of the action was out in front of me. No matter - it was a beautiful day.

But it was also one of those days where I didn't have a whole lot of spring in my legs. And, maybe because of the unusual start time, or the logistics of changing my clothes while moving, I got a stitch in my side, which I'm not used to. By the time I hit the halfway point, it seemed as though everyone and her mother had passed me. I wondered if I'd be able to finish, but as I looked out ahead of me I could see that I had just run up a long hill - no wonder I was beat. Up ahead of me I could see a dad running with his 5 or 6 year old son. I figured that for the sake of common decency, I really ought to be able to pass 'em. So I did.

There was one woman I could see out ahead of me, but there was no way I was going to catch up to her, so I relaxed into my solitude and just kept plodding along at my ten-minute-mile pace.

As I finally approached the finish line, there was nobody running near me. There was Kevin, grinning. And up ahead, the handful of organizers stood chatting. They cheered me halfheartedly. I called out to them, "hey, c'mon, show me some lovin'!" and they rallied and shouted encouragement. I sang the melody from "Chariots of Fire" as I crossed the finish line, and someone handed me a numbered tongue depressor - I finished 23rd.

I went over to the finishing table and much to my surprise, saw that I'd finished third in my age group. I'm bronze, baby! We didn't stick around for the post-race activities, so I don't know what kind of awesome trophy I missed out on. They can mail it to me.

Here we are, in the background, leaving the race. That woman with the stroller? I remember her passing me early on - I must have passed her at some point, but I don't remember it.

The next day, Kevin went out and bought himself a pair of running shoes. Woo hoo! He also brought back...drum roll please... a race calendar. And guess what? There's a 10K in Shelburne Falls in August. I'm there. No kidding: I've already started training. On Monday, I ran my first longer run - 4.4 miles.