Today I ran a 10K. It was my 23rd race event. A few months shy of two years worth of running, I still consider myself a "newbie". Especially when I find out that other people that I am running races with have been lifetime or longtime runners. Lifetime and longtime sound like synonyms to me! Two years sounds young, maybe even infantile...just a toddler in a sea of adolescent or adult runners. Nonetheless, I still take pride in the accomplishments that two years of running has brought me. A group of incredible friends. Friends who are there for you and who lift you up...friends who run with you late at night in the dark and sometimes very early in the dark! Friends who travel long distances with you. Friends who say, "You can do it!" Friends who make you laugh!
Two years of running has also given me the courage to know that I can and WILL accomplish goals. That I can do things I once thought impossible. That I can trust that my feet will take me places I never imagined I would go. To the top of a mountain to see the Biltmore Mansion. Up hills I would long curse. Along beach fronts that I could admire. Through the streets of a city closed to traffic. Along dusty dirt roads and trails through woods. Down deserted roads to see a gorgeous sunset. Along race courses to see the sun rise. Each step, each foot strike, a testament to that fateful first. That fateful first race that in all honesty, might not rightfully be called a race. But then again, it's all about perspective...it's all in how you look at! It was a RACE...a race to see if I would indeed even finish!
My first 5K story is probably a lot different from your average person's. I was a new runner. Eight weeks or so prior to race day I was a walker. So I found an 8 week to a 5K race plan and went to work. Walk.Run.Walk.Run.Walk.Run. I would look at my stopwatch on my cell phone and pray for a minute to pass quickly and painlessly...as I aimed to squeeze in 1 minute running jags for every 5 minute walking spurts in the early days. After 8-10 weeks I was ready to run my first race. I read somewhere online, that you should tell people that you are going to run a race, to hold you accountable! So I did. I told everyone I knew about my plans, right down to the day, right down to the event. Event day came. The race was and hour and a half away. For good measure, I had one of my good friends meet me at my house 2 hours or so before the race start. Surely we would make it there just fine. We left in plenty of time. About an hour into the drive, I realized we were having such a good time talking, that I completely missed my exit. It turned out I went 30 miles out of the way. We stopped at a gas station, and my friend bought an atlas and frantically searched for a shortcut. There was none. So I did what I always do in times like these…. I exceeded the speed limit!! I am not at liberty to tell you by how much, but let’s just say it was enough to get the attention of a state trooper! Needless to say, we arrived at the start a little late! The race had already started! I was looking for my race number and had to hunt it down…by the time I got started one of the first finishers was coming in! He politely showed me the start line and wished me luck. I set my stopwatch and took off. I received many strange looks along the course. Since some were doing the 10k they saw me coming along alone and I politely explained that I was late! They smiled and gave encouragement! I finished my first race in 29 minutes 11 seconds according to my watch and despite the day’s setbacks I was very happy! I had met my goal in finishing in under 30 minutes. Although, the race clock differed from mine, I knew my true time on the route!
Since that fateful day, I have ran 22 other races. So far I have made all the others on time! But I also know that sometimes life just happens, and we simply have to adjust. I will never forget that fateful day of my first 5K!
Here are my top 10 tips to help you have a First 5K Success story:
1. Go to bed early the night before.
2. Set multiple alarm clocks and set them so that you arrive at your race destination 1 hour before the race start.
3. Do not drink much alcohol the evening prior to your event.
4. Hydrate well the day before the race.
5. If coffee helps you wake up, 1 cup will probably be fine the day of the race. But more than one is a bad idea for most people.
6. Drink a bottle of water the morning of the race. Plan to finish your water 1 hour before the race starts.
7. Eat a bagel or a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. These meal choices seem to settle your stomach and give you energizing carbs as well.
8. Use the port a potty or restroom before the race. Multiple times if necessary. Also be prepared to wait in bathroom lines, the last 10 minutes before race start.
9. Plan for any traffic issues or detours along your race route. It does and WILL happen…so that’s why you should plan to arrive at least an hour ahead of the race. It will allow you some wiggle room if there are delays or detours.
10. Plan to have fun! Tell yourself a dozen or so positive affirmations! You will do well and congratulate yourself for being there! Now have fun!
I hope your first 5K is not like mine was! I hope it goes off without a hitch! And if for some reason it doesn’t… I hope you still feel as excited as you ever did about running and try again!
From one running mom to another,