October 8, 2006
Yeah, that says post-race up there. I did it–completed the 2.5 miles I signed up for. I didn’t turn an ankle or fall down or at any point want to give up. Based on what I’ve been doing in my training sessions, I set myself a goal to finish in 45 minutes or less–an 18 minute mile pace, which is pretty slow, slower than minimum walk pace per the program I’m on, slower than what I’ve been doing during training, but I wanted to make sure to set a goal I could meet and make my first race a success. Well, I blew that goal away. I finished in 29-something, just a hair faster than 12 minutes a mile and good enough for 7th in my age group. I’m very proud of myself.
I hadn’t thought I was nervous about the race, but I had a dream last night that indicated otherwise. The start of the dream race went pretty well, but then the course started up a hill that just got steeper and steeper and muddier and muddier until it was almost vertical and I was clawing my way up on hands and knees. At the top, there was a wooden pole to hang onto while a race volunteer used a canoe paddle to break the suction between the mud and my thighs so I could swing my legs up and over the crest of the slope.
Fortunately, the real race didn’t have anything like that. There were a few slopes, but they were very gentle on the 2.5 mile course–my two coworkers who did the 5.5 mile race said there were some real hills on that loop. My third coworker did the 2.5 mile with me. She’s about at my level, though she’s been doing longer intervals than I have. I figured I’d just stick with her as long as I could, which turned out to be longer than I expected–I think we did something like 9 or 10 minutes running to start, which is three times longer than my longest jogging interval so far. I didn’t stay with her during her second running interval, though; at that point I went with shorter intervals like I was used to (I didn’t time them; just winged it) and aimed to keep up with a walker who was moving at what felt like a good pace to me (thank you again, bib 586) to guard against slacking off too much. I ended up finishing just behind my coworker anyway despite our different approaches; she was 6th in our age group.
Now, back at home a few hours after the race, I’m still basking in the glow of having finished. When I did that first training session back in mid-August, I wouldn’t have ever guessed I’d be sitting here today having completed my first race. I’ve stuck with it and stayed healthy and now I’ve got race experience. I know how to tie the chip on my shoe and how to attach the number to my shirt (well, maybe I could have used a couple more pins there, but it did stay on just fine) and how to run in a crowd (a little crowd, sure, but definitely different than being on my own). A marathon still seems crazy, but who knows–me doing 2.5 miles in under 30 minutes seemed pretty crazy at one point, too.