In true Throwback Thursday form, I want to tell the story of my very first race. I had been training for 4 months for this Fourth of July 5K in my hometown. And by training, I mean running the same (very flat) 1 mile loop around my neighborhood twice several nights a week.
Yes, I knew a 5K meant 3.1 miles but I figured if I could run 2 miles, I could run 3 miles. Those training plans are just “suggestions” anyway, right? I mean, how hard can it be to go just one more mile? Honestly, I knew how hard it was I just didn’t want to listen to the voice of reason in my head! See, when I started running, I couldn’t actually run. I was lucky to make it a half mile (according to my car, not a fancy running watch!) before I had to walk. And I was trying to squeeze in my training after the kids’ bedtime and before it got dark. Which is how I always ended up going 2 miles instead of 3. Running in the dark…who would consider such nonsense?!?
Fast forward to race day. This was a relatively small 5K run/walk for a local charity but always drew a large number of race spectators along the route. I’m not sure why, but I was really surprised at how crowded it was! What if I couldn’t find the packet pick up tent to get my bib? What if I couldn’t find the start line? What if I got lost on the route and made a wrong turn? These might seem like ridiculous fears to a seasoned runner; but for a girl who had only concerned herself with the actual running portion of a race, suddenly these questions of logistics made the running part seem easy.
Fortunately, I found my bib and the start line. The details of the race are a little fuzzy now, but I remember two things very clearly: it was hot and that third mile was brutal. Even more brutal because it was hot…I mean, who decides their first organized run should be in July in the Midwest? But I survived…and I didn’t quit running, though during that last mile specifically I am sure I swore to myself that I would never run again for the rest of my life.
I finished my very first 5K in 36:24 (or 11:45 min/mile) and I learned so much from this experience! Hydration, nutrition and preparation are at the top of that list; it was also much hillier than I anticipated, which taught me to check out the elevation maps for future races if I wasn’t already familiar with the area or course.
Since digging up these photos, I am so excited to run another 5K next month to see how my pace and endurance for this distance have improved since this race!
Do you prefer organized races or running on your own?
What is your favorite race distance?