When I woke up this morning, I wasn’t sure what my day would bring. It was cold outside, cold enough for snow. I hadn’t gotten in any running in the last week because of work circumstances way beyond my control – more on that some other time. I wasn’t completely sure of myself… but I was sure I wanted to try.
I rounded up my husband, made myself a bagel with strawberry cream cheese, got a really good CD to listen to and hopped in the car to head to Mt. Pleasant an hour away. I was going to run a race that I had debated running at all because I wouldn’t have a running partner, I didn’t think I was ready, and then when I decided I wanted to run it I wondered if I would even be able to because of my work situation. I knew the area and it was almost the same route where I had attained my PR in a 5k almost 5 years ago.
I wasn’t looking to PR today. I wanted to do better than my last 5k race a year ago, and I wanted to run the whole thing without stopping to walk. I had support and encouragement from friends, family and coworkers. It was a really big deal to me to run this race because everyone was rooting for me.
Things were a little disorganized when we got there. The route had to be changed because of minor flooding on the trails we were supposed to use. There were 3 races – a 5k, 10k and half marathon. The half was supposed to start at 9am with the 5k and 10k start at 9:15am, but they started all of the races at 9:15am. I met up with my supervisor/partner in crime from work whose words of advice from the night before and the day of were what kept me going: JUST DON’T STOP!
I started slow. I stayed slow. I probably could have gone faster but going fast wasn’t my goal. Today the goal was to run the whole thing. And when I say run, I really mean jog, because my average pace was over 12:00. But that’s okay… I wasn’t racing anybody but myself, and the voice that always tells me to take a break, walk, “You’re not a real runner”.
There were hills that in other races I would have walked up. I kept jogging. I kept repeating to myself “Don’t stop! Don’t stop!” I had to pee really badly… “If you walk, you’re going to make it worse!” I made it up the hills. I hit the 1 mile mark. I said to myself, alright, only 2 more to go, you got this! I hit the 2 mile mark. My phone alerted me when I had hit 2.5 miles. “Okay, you’ve run this far before, and you only have a little more than a half mile to go! A half mile is nothing! You got this!” I hit the trail part of the run and ran over the Chip river which was flooded and rushing beneath me. “Don’t stop, you’re almost there. Don’t stop. I really have to pee… push it a little harder and I can pee sooner!”
I saw the last volunteer. He said, “Great job! The finish is just around the corner.” I smiled at him… thinking when I turned the corner I’d still have a ways to go. When I got around the corner I saw the FINISH sign and a huge wave of excitement came over me. I remembered what Maggie had said to me about her marathon the week before… and how excited she got when she realized she was the leader. She was the winner. She had to contain herself because she still had a ways to go. I pushed all of that excitement into my legs and I ran it in hard…
I didn’t care what my time was, but I knew that I had beaten my last 5k time. I knew I hadn’t PR’d, but it was okay. Because that will come with time. I know I have it in me to run an entire 3.1 miles without stopping no matter what my head tries to tell me. I know that my body can do it. And my time will improve… this is just the beginning. I’m so glad that I didn’t stop.
I can’t wait for May 4th, my next 5k race!!!