So, I did it! I ran the 5k, which was actually a bit longer of a race than that at 3.8 miles!
I am very proud of myself. For those of you runners out there, I know a 5k is just your warm up, but to me, it felt like a marathon (Um, okay, it didn't. But you know what I mean!).
I was super nervous the night before. I didn't know what to wear, what to bring, what to leave at home, how to carry my stuff during the race, where to go to find the finish line, blah, blah, blah. We ate dinner later than I wanted, I went to bed later than I wanted, and I woke up several times during the night, worried I would somehow sleep through my alarm.
It was also Daylight Savings, so I lost another hour of sleep, bringing my grand total to somewhere around five hours of broken, restless sleep. I finally gave up waiting for my alarm and got out of bed at 5:30.
My running partner picked me up at 6:00. We picked up another friend on the way. She actually is a marathon runner and insisted on stopping for a snack, since both of us novice fools hadn't eaten breakfast. I was too nervous to eat (and was scared to have to use the bathroom during the race), but she reminded us that the race didn't start until 8:50 and that we had to have something in our stomachs. So I choked down a whole grain roll and some water.
We got to the race super early (they were closing down the major roads in and out of the area at 7:00), which was actually nice for my nerves. We got a great parking spot and then were able to walk around and look at all of the free stuff, listen to music, and get some big, funny green hats.
It was fun, so fun that I almost forgot the reason we were there. But soon they were calling for all race participants to go to the starting line and I remembered why and my heart started pounding. There were four waves and we were signed up for the third wave (non-timed) so that we wouldn't feel out of our league or slow other people down. Our friend was in the first wave, so we stood with her in her wave before the race began. We were surrounded by what could only be described as professional runners who were wearing spandex, fancy jackets, and expensive running shoes. They were doing stretches, jogging in place, and just generally looking ready to go. I started to get pretty nervous. What the heck was I doing there? I should be at home, on my couch, watching this on t.v. After her wave took off, it was time for us to line up.
This is when I started to relax. These were our people. There was a five year old standing next to us. There were lots of jogging strollers. More people were in jeans or funny costumes. No one was stretching, everyone was chatting, and I think my ten year old Nikes might have been the nicest shoes there!
Soon, we were off. We had planned to start the race at a brisk walk for the first five minutes. This was actually a good plan, because it was so congested that running would have been impossible. By the time the crowd thinned out enough to run, it was right about the five minute mark. So. . .we started jogging, slowly at first, then picking up to a comfortable (for us) pace.
The first ten minutes were awesome. I felt good. Really good. We were passing some people, being passed by others, keeping pace with most. We weren't breaking any speed records, but we were moving.
The course was pretty flat at first, then went up a long, gently sloping hill. That hill was kind of killer, even though it wasn't steep, because it seemed to go forever. The neat thing was that at the top of the hill, the course just turned right around, so we could see the hundreds of runners running back down the hill. Finally, it was our turn to get back down the hill and that felt amazing.
Have I mentioned that my poor running partner had The Flu the whole week before the race. As in, her whole family had the H1N1 flu? Yeah, the poor thing was a real trooper, but it was about the half way point that she started coughing and wheezing. We slowed our jog to a walk for a couple of minutes to let her get some good deep breaths and use her inhaler.
But we were right back at it as soon as she was able and kept going. We were both pretty tired and ready to start walking again when we saw the 3 mile marker. That bolstered both of us up and we kept going. We were just about ready to walk again when, all of a sudden, there were people on both sides of the course, ringing bells and cheering for us and a guy boomed out, "One block left!"
Well. How can you not jog the last block?
So, we did. We jogged through the finish line. We finished the 5k in 44:14, which I know isn't a great time (race average was 38:51). But it doesn't really matter because it was our time and we have already signed up for another 5k in a month. We are going to beat our time and then we are doing an 8k in May.
I did something that I didn't think I could do. That feels pretty amazing. I highly recommend the C25K program if you are thinking about learning to run.