It seems runners may enjoy telling their running stories the way mothers like telling birth stories. There is the preparation stage, the apprehension, the confidence, The Main Event with it’s painful battles and moments of easier breathing. Then, finally, there is the exhilaration of crossing the finish line with the support and congratulations of friends creating music for a weary body. Here’s the story of my first 5K.
The Refuge Run was the first of what will hopefully become an annual tradition for the City of Refuge. This year we were raising funds to buy desks and furniture for the new educational facility. [If you would like to contribute, you can do so here.]
Friday evening I went for my last practice run. It was a good run–one of those times the running didn’t feel so hard and I could enjoy parts of it. I forgot to check the clock when I started, but I know it wasn’t my fastest time. I was at peace with running on Saturday–knowing I would come in toward the end, but also knowing I had put forth my best effort.
The true measure of a runner
isn’t in time, but rather
in the effort it took along the way.
I was a little concerned about the whole eating in the morning thing. I know my body needs food in the morning or it won’t function. On the flip side I didn’t want to eat too much and confuse my body as to whether it should work on digestion or running. I planned to get up early to eat a banana and peanut butter then give it plenty of time to settle. I had been drinking lots of water that week in preparation.
Friday night we went to bed early thinking we were getting a really long night. Then Paxton woke around 3:30 and I didn’t get back to sleep until close to 6:00. Because of that I ended up sleeping later than I planned, but I still ate about an hour before the race start time.
I was feeling pretty calm before the race, and glad the route runs through the familiar territory of our neighborhood.
Saturday, unfortunately, was one of the days when I was not really feeling all that strong. I shoved it aside until we were doing warm up exercise with Back on My Feet. Within minutes I was getting very lightheaded–so disappointing and frustrating. Steve prayed for me, and I promised him not to push myself beyond what I could handle.
The race started, and off we went I didn’t get the adrenaline rush most people talk about. It all felt very much like typical runs. Some days the running is easier and some days it feels hard. This was one of those days it was tough most of the way through. Overall it went pretty well, though. There was the funny moment when the train crossed right through our route!
In the second mile my left leg started cramping. It had never happened before, so I wasn’t sure if I should pause to stretch it or keep running. I kept running and after awhile my entire left foot was tingling! Otherwise everything went pretty much as it normally did–mostly running and some walking up hills. (We had some steep hills on our route! Steve overheard some of the guys who run a lot remark that it was a tough route.)
When I got to the last half mile I knew it was mostly downhill. I decided to run the whole way even if I would pay for it. I wanted to sprint to cut down my time a little, but I really didn’t have it in me.
I came huffing in and my friend Rahel snapped a photo of me.
I think she Photoshopped it, though. Because I’m smiling on this one even though I’m pretty sure I looked a whole lot more like this (minus the facial hair):
Was I ever, ever, ever happy to see that finish line, and I even reached my goal. I had been hoping to come in under 40 minutes, and I did! My time was just a little over 39 minutes.
I very nearly keeled over as soon as I quit, though. I ran over to the side to find a place to lean onto. Steve brought me some water, and I just sat on the ground for a few minutes until I could function again. I was completely whipped, but also very happy.
It did feel really amazing to know I had accomplished something that took so much training and hard work. It also felt pretty awesome to look at a group of runners and to know I was one of them.
Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves.
It teaches us to push beyond
where we thought we could go. It helps
us to find out what we are made of.
This is what we do.
To look back to January when I wondered if it would take me an hour…to February when I wondered if I would have to give it up because I was getting lightheaded so often…to March when I kept trying to build up endurance…to April when I fought the mental battle of being okay with the best I could do…and then to come to race day and accomplish that goal–yeah, that is something worth working for.
I want to keep working at running stronger and building endurance. I really need another goal to work toward….Anyone want to sign up for a race and be my accountability partner? =) I just told you how weak I’ve been. Trust me–if I can do this you can, too!
After the race the boys and I hung out with Steve while he worked a few hours. In the evening we were back for the People’s Truck preview.
The People’s food truck will soon be serving Atlanta their delicious food. Each meal sold will help fund meals City of Refuge serves to the homeless. You can see more photos here: People’s Food Truck.