Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Story of my first 5K

Written shortly after 5K:

I don't know where to start. Although I'm sitting calmly with a cup of tea and some granola, I'm still on a major running high. I can't believe it's over or that I did it, and that it was only 2 hours ago. But because I'm on this amazing running high, I think it's probably best to tell my story now.

It all started this summer. I returned home from college and wanted to get in shape. I ran with friends during school, but it was cold and I wasn't always consistent. After a couple weeks of running in the summer weather, I started to feel invincible. I mean, if I could run in 100 degrees or more, I could run anywhere, right? The sun was exhausting, but I was determined to pick up the speed and start setting goals. Little by little I was beating records and running faster. Towards the end of August, I felt ambitious and tried to finish 100 miles in 2 months. It wasn't easy jogging in extra miles everyday, but I 
definitely learned to run a bit longer. Eventually this all lead to my first 5K/color run last month. It was a blast, but I had more fun getting covered in color, that I didn't care about the whole running part.

A couple weeks ago, I signed up for a more "serious" 5K. I set a new goal to beat my previous 5K record of 29:17 and actually run the entire time. The race was Run for the Water and started by Gilbert Tuhabonye in 2008. For each person who runs, someone in Burundi receives clean water for life. It's more of a competitive race and all for a good cause, so it fit perfectly. To prepare, I started jogging 4-5 times a week and tracking an average of 2-4 miles each run. Instead of running the first mile and taking a break(like I used to), I started running longer and took shorter breaks. My stamina was improving and my speed was steady.

Mentally, I was completely ready; but then something came up Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Before I knew it, it had been 4 days without a single run or walk. The day I picked up my running packet, I started to get anxious and nervous. Here were all these extremely fit people who looked like they'd been running for years. I tried to stop comparing myself, but all I could think was "what did I sign myself up for?"
A 5K is 3.1 miles, so when you think about it, it might not sound like a whole lot, but for some it could mean forever. If you jog about 10 min per mile on average, that's just above 30 min. If you walk it, you'll probably make it in 45 min or so. Walk or run, you're bound to finish in less than an hour. After miles of practice, I believed I could run the entire time, but I didn't want to go for it until the actual race day. It may sound silly, but here's my logic: If I could run the entire time, I was bound to beat my record. Simple enough, right?

So it was Saturday night and I was prepping for the big day. I pinned my number on to my shirt, picked out some shorts, got my headband ready, and then I found a blue looking wristband. I had no idea what this blue thing was, and so like all smart people, I googled it. For those who don't know, it's a time tracker for runners! How cool is that? From the moment you pass the start and finish line, the tracker is marking your time. You put the band through your shoelaces and you're good to go. I'm a nerd when it comes to tech stuff, so this sort of blew my mind. You don't have to wear a watch, carry your phone, or wear some armband; it's just a small piece of plastic and you forget it's even there! But alas, I put the band on my shoelace and finally went to sleep!

Sunday morning rolled around and boom, I woke up at 4:38am thanks to the loud thunder and pouring rain. Eventually I fell back asleep, but then I had a dream. Because of the rain, the run was postponed an hour and dreaming Melissa decided to go shopping on SoCo. I was talking with friends and then got a call I missed the run! and then my alarm went off. Thank goodness it was just a dream! I turned off the alarm and ouch, my stomach was cramping. Oh joy. I got up, ate some cheerios, popped some ibuprofen, and tried to find a suitable jacket for the rain. You see, they gave us these pretty white shirts by Mizuno and all, but no one realized it was going to POUR. With no luck of finding a jacket, I ran out to the car under my purse and headed to the race with my mom. It was still dark at 6:30am, but thankfully the rain had subsided. 

We managed to find a parking spot and were getting out of the car when I realized I forgot my earphones. Thanks to the hormones and anxiety, I had a mental breakdown. I had always ran with my earphones. What was I going to do without my TSwift Pandora station, how was I supposed to check my time for each mile, and how were my hands going to feel without my phone in hand? This was my big day and I wasn't 100% prepared. After talking to my mom, I calmed down, wiped my tears, and decided to look at it differently. One, I'd have one less distraction. Two, no worrying about my ear buds falling out. And three, no carrying any extra weight. While I couldn't rely on my Nike Running app, I was completely grateful for my blue tracker band.

Because of the rain, the race got pushed back 15 min. I stretched a bit and hung out with my mom before heading the start line. While waiting, we also got to hear a word from Gilbert Tuhabonye himself, which was pretty inspiring. Soon enough, a minute was left and the countdown began. It was pretty crowded, so I waited to pass the start line until I had more room to run. The moment I passed the line, I went for it. I ran past a couple people to find a less crowded place and start running at a more comfortable pace. Eventually I hit the 1 mile, 2 mile and 3 mile point. I don't remember what I was thinking, besides watching out for big puddles. but that's the best part of it all. I find that my mind is most clear when running. No worries and no stress. It's just me and my shoes. After passing the 3 mile mark, I tried to sprint the last .10. I saw the clock and ran even faster, it was 26:04! I couldn't believe it. I had officially beat my record! Everyone was cheering us on and performers were playing Burundian music, it was a special moment I'll never forget.

As we headed on out, I picked up some free snacks and sports drinks. Saving the best for last, I stood in line to check my time:
As you could imagine, I was ecstatic. Not only did I run the entire time and beat my record, I placed 5th in my age division! It was a proud moment, y'all and I couldn't be happier. I'm not sure when I'll do my next 5K, but what I do know is, I've got some major training to do if I plan on beating my new record.

If you've made it this far, you're a trooper. This is probably the longest post I've written, but it's a special story I wanted to share. I had my ups and downs, but I finally made it. I would've never pictured myself completing a race of any kind, but this is something I love and hope to continue. I may have only started out on short runs in college, but I want to dedicate this post to Carolyn, Keith and Elizabeth. I never would have woken up early or gone out in 30 degree weather if it wasn't for those folks. So thanks for reading and have a fabulous Tuesday!

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