When I started the C25K plan in spring, I didn’t have a race planned, and I wasn’t training for anything. But then when our wellness people at work were brainstorming things to do, I mentioned the Komen Race for the Cure as something we could do, and we all thought it was a good idea, but then nothing ever came of it. I had volunteered to captain the team, but then summer carried on and I smushed my toe, and I was kind of hoping no one would remember it. Our wellness director, did, though, and so I sucked it up, realized that I was being ridiculous, that I should be celebrating my good health and good fortune, and Race for the Cure was the BEST place to try my hand at a real, live, 5k. I started the team with only 3 weeks before the race, and set my goal for $250, and thanks to very generous friends and family, I exceeded my goal! I also set the goal for the team to be 5 coworkers, and it ended up that 18 were on our team.
Having had a very fraught relationship with exercise and athletics for my whole life, I’m sure that some people might have thought “Gretchen’s going to run a race? Man, I’d PAY to see that!” and so they did. But having people that had paid meant I really had to go DO THIS. Very scary indeed. And when the baby had a GI bug on Friday, I was hoping beyond hope that it would not transfer to me. (Thank god, it didn’t.) The other thing I was fretting about was that the race sent an email telling us that timed bibs had to be pinned on…. sideways. For someone already feeling intimidated by an organized athletic event, having that directive made me even more nervous that I was actually being punked. I decided to wait til I got there to pin on my bib, just in case. (And it turns out that it was not a way to trick the newbies, but somehow the bibs got printed wrong. Okay.)
I had Dave drop me off, and I wandered the waterfront for a bit, hoping to see other members of my team (but only finding a few) and I ran into some other people I knew. There were lots of people trying to give me free stuff, but I had no place to put it, so I didn’t take it. I had a thin fleece over my running clothes because it was a chilly morning, and so that I could carry my inhaler and iPhone. (I feel much more comfortable carrying both, in case of emergency, but I already want a Spibelt for next time). I pinned my bib on and tried to figure out where to be — I had a blue bib to be timed, but I knew I’d be slow, so I tried to find the back of the line for the blue bibs but in front of people with strollers and dogs and things like that.
Still, when the race started it felt a little weird, almost like vertigo with the entire crowd moving at once. I knew I wanted to start out walking, but despite my attempt to place myself well, I still felt it was a little slow getting started. My goal was to “run a bunch” and end up with a time to beat next year. I walked up the hill to start, and then ran for most of Main street, where we were cheered on by firemen and UM students, which was neat. When I got to Lincoln, I walked, briskly, up that street. I was behind two people who seemed similar to me in pace and ability, and I found myself using them as my motivation. If THEY could do it, so could I!
Things I learned on Lincoln Street: It’s a lot longer than it seems when you drive it. Also, it’s a lot steeper.
At mile 1, I checked my app, and I was about 15 minutes in, which is where I had hoped to be, even though I thought I might have run more at that point. At the to of the hill, the weather had really warmed up and I found myself hoping to see my family up there so that I could lose the fleece, but alas, they were not there. On the downhill there was a water station, which was so welcome, and I tied my fleece around my waist. There were cheerleaders from my university, and when I hit the 2 mile marker I had the realization that OH HEY, I was DOING THIS. Not so much covering the distance, because I could walk 5k easy, but I was RUNNING IN PUBLIC. Past people that MIGHT EVEN RECOGNIZE ME. Which might not seem like a big deal to some people, but for ME, a lifelong nerd/bookworm/non-athlete/last pick in gym class/needed special gym because of total lack of coordination? I was kind of excited.
I alternated running and walking for the return on Main Street, but then ran from the corner of Main & Railroad to the finish line. I could see the big clock ticking “46:52/:53/:54” and decided I wanted to be at 47:00 or less so I pushed through and made it, I am pretty sure. (I am really not sure how the whole timing thing works, but my app said “47:40” and I had turned that on before we got started..EDIT! My official time was 45:45, and I am thrilled because when I did a test 5k in my flat neighborhood last week, it was 48:25.) After I got some water, I called Dave to come pick me up, but the place he’d dropped me off at was now closed, and when I tried to call him back, his cell phone wasn’t on, so I ended up hanging out in front of the homeless shelter for 45 minutes trying to figure out where he might come from to find me. (That was the worst part of the whole day, so obviously, it was a good day.) When he arrived, Ingrid piped up “Mama! Did you win your race?!” And I told her “I was racing against myself, so I sure did.” Dave said they have already made plans to do it with me next year. 🙂
I already have plans for next year, and I hope we can form our team in the spring, as opposed to the few weeks before the actual event. I think it would be nice to have someone who doesn’t want to walk or run, be on our team to help at the waterfront — it’d have been nice to have a place to stash our stuff while running, and to have all had a meeting spot beforehand for pictures. I also definitely want a spibelt to carry my necessities, and if my family doesn’t do it with me, I want them to be at the top of the hill encouraging me!
Above all of that that was my experience, though, was that I was especially moved by the back signs, especially ones that said “mom” or “sister.” (THere was one that was “In memory of: my sister, Kathleen” which, uh, really got to me. I am so fortunate that I don’t have a sign on my back, that it seems silly to be so self-conscious of the sign on my front. Which is why Race for the Cure was the perfect first-ever running in public event for me.