Saturday, April 16, 2011

10k?! Did I Miss A Turn Somewhere?!

The 5k I ran today started off great. The weather was perfect... not too cold and not raining (yay!). I felt good and didn't even mind that I showed up alone. The last few races I've run, I've had a “running buddy” with me (usually one of my kids I dragged along). It had been a while since I'd run at an event by myself so I was anticipating feeling lonely and left out. I noticed, however, as I ran along, that there were quite a few people running “alone”. They all planned ahead, as I did, and had their headphones on.

I train with my ipod all the time but it was the first time I'd brought it to a race. I decided I really liked it!  I feel like I ran better and harder having some jammin' tunes to distract me and also to help me keep up a good pace. I fueled this run with a mixture of up-tempo songs on shuffle, from bands such as Daughtry, Queen, Styx, The Fray, and Neon Trees. I was surprised how “Say When” by The Fray helped me pick up the pace in the last mile and “Animal” by Neon Trees brought me in to the finish line.

But before I tell you how it ended... I have to explain the title of this blog entry. I had a few scary minutes, about half-way through, when I thought I had accidentally missed a turn and was in the wrong race! This race had both a 5k and 10k. We all started together and then somewhere along the route, one group was supposed to turn off. The email I'd received prior to the race had specified which group it was, but I couldn't remember. They had the course well marked with signs, including ones being held by volunteers, to make sure we didn't get lost. We had passed a volunteer who was holding a sign and I thought I was going the right direction because I was following everyone else. A little while after that, we passed a sign telling those running the 10k to turn. It didn't say anything about the 5k. I started to panic thinking that maybe I was supposed to have turned at the previous sign.

For several very stressful minutes, I thought I had accidentally gotten myself into a 10k race! Thoughts started flooding my mind as I was looking around me trying to figure out if the people I was running with looked like elite enough runners to do a 10k. I was trying to think back to that previous sign and what direction the arrow was pointing. I was trying to decided if I should keep going and try to finish a 10k (with walking, of course!) or if I should turn around and go back. I thought about asking someone as they passed me, but they had headphones on! Then, just as I was really starting to freak out, I see a volunteer up ahead, holding TWO signs, one for each race. Whew... was I ever relieved!

The 5k runners turned right and the others kept going straight. I couldn't help but think, as I turned that corner, and watched my counterparts continue to run a much longer race than me, “So long, suckers!” I was SO happy that I only had to run 3 miles instead of 6, it made the race so much easier to get through! I managed to run the WHOLE thing (other than one brief walk at the hydration station-- it's WAY too hard to drink water while running!). About the last half mile, my legs started feeling like lead weights and I wasn't sure I was going to make it. A couple girls ahead of me started walking at this point and I was Soooo tempted, but I knew we were close and I wanted SO badly to run the whole way. Then I turned a corner and saw the finish line! I knew I was gonna make it!

By this point I was quite tired, my legs hurt, and I was breathing really hard. I was thinking that I was actually glad I hadn't brought a running buddy with me. That way I didn't have to worry about feeling obligated to talk to someone when I could barely breathe! I really thought I was just gonna lope along and drag myself across the finish line. As I got a little closer I could see the time clock and what I first noticed was that it was still in the 30's. Then I noticed it wasn't to 35 minutes yet! I'd never finished a race in less than 35 minutes before. I think my best time prior to this race was 38. The clock turned over to 34 and I decided to put on the gas. I wanted to cross that finish line before it hit 35 and I did it! My official time was 34:27! I was so proud!

It's such a great feeling to finish a race anyway, but especially running the whole way, and pushing myself at the end when it was getting hard. Oh yeah... and it doesn't hurt to have complete strangers clapping and cheering for you at the end, either!


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