Yesterday I ran my first 5k of the year. I signed up for the Seacoast Road Race Series a couple of months ago which is a series of 8 races in the seacoast area. In order to complete the series you must run 6 of the 8 races, with 2 of them exceeding a 5k. I signed up because I thought it would be a good way to motivate myself to keep running and to stay active. I’ve never run anything longer than a 5k and have never trained to run. I usually just show up at a race, run my best, and feel sore for the next 3 days, not to mention feeling like I’m going to vomit and die immediately after the race.
My friends & family know that I’m your typical nervous nelly who struggles when my routine gets off-track. Knowing that little tid-bit, you wont believe the morning I had yesterday… it was the first race of the series and I was running a course I’ve never run before, all by myself. I had my Garmin all set up as I drove to the race and of course right as I was turning off the highway onto the exit, my Garmin let out a loud beep letting me know that the battery was about to die. At the first stop sign I rustled around for the charger and plugged it in, as I knocked my iPhone onto the floor. I took a deep breath and just kept on driving.
When I reached the address of the race, I saw a sign for event parking and found a spot. I had no idea where I was supposed to go to pick up my bib as I didn’t see any signs for the race. I awkwardly interrupted a group of women to ask if they knew where I was supposed to go. At this point I knew I needed to use the restroom but figured that’d be my last stop right before the race. After getting the most general set of directions I’ve ever been given, to “cross two streets and you’ll see some sort of sign,” I started walking toward the direction the woman pointed.
I saw a sign for registration and approached the table. Of course, I was at the registration for the kids fun run. When I asked where I was supposed to go for the 5k, I was given directions guided by landmarks such as the pool and “the big set of stairs,” neither of which I knew the location of. I smiled, walked away and began walking toward a crowd of people. I finally found the registration table and got into line. When I reached the table a woman asked my bib number to which I replied that I didn’t know and gave her my name. I was then told I had to get out of line and go to another table to find my bib number and then return to the line to get my bib. I took another deep breath, kept some choice words that I was thinking to myself, found my number and got my bib.
I then had to run back to my car, drop off my jacket and keys, and grab a quick bite of my Larabar. I quickly jogged back to the race area carrying my iPhone, headphones, bib, & 4 safety pins, in search of bathrooms. I saw a never-ending line and my immediate thought was that I would either have to hold it in & take a chance of peeing my pants on the course (which would make me run faster) or use the bathroom and start the race late. I got into line, hands sweating and shaking, like the stress ball that I occasionally am, and took more deep breaths and tried to calm myself down.
I asked a woman behind me where the start line was and she kindly pointed to the direction and then thought it would be a good idea to tell me that she does not like this race; that it was the “worst of the series…so many hills…I don’t know why they do this to us!” and proceeded to laugh in my face. At that moment, all I could think of was ‘I’m on the verge of peeing my pants and that is NOT what I want to hear right now.’ Eventually I made it into the bathroom and to the start line with 3 minutes to spare. I put my headphones on, started my playlist, did a couple last minute stretches in the cramped amount of space that I had, and took one final deep breath. I reminded myself that although the entire morning was a disaster, I made it to the start line with time to spare and now I just had to run. I had originally set a goal for myself to run the 5k in under 29 minutes but before the gun went off I decided I’d shoot for under 30 considering the day’s events, the fact that it was my first 5k of the year, I didn’t know the course, and it was “the worst of the series” from what I’d heard.
I’m not sure if it was the frustration of the morning’s events or the adrenaline rush that I get when running a race, but I ended up running my personal best with a time of 26:18.
I realized a lot about myself yesterday. After that disastrous morning, and after driving to the race on my own and running it by myself, I feel proud, strong, independent and confident. I didn’t let a bump in the road (or 8) set me off track and ruin my day. Sure, it was a crazy morning, but I was able to bite my tongue, suck it up, breathe, and focus my attention where it needed to be; and I came out of it with my best time and a feeling of pride. I think that sometimes, things happen in order to show us that we are stronger than we think we are. I’m so glad that I signed up for the Seacoast Road Race Series and committed myself to a healthy, active lifestyle!
Next race: the Kittery5k on May 20th. Hope to see you there!
To sign up for the Seacoast Race Series, go to: http://www.proportsmouth.org/seacoastseries.cfm
To sign up for the Kittery5k: http://www.kittery5k.com/