Race day started out bright and early at 6:30am. Surprisingly, I popped out of bed just fine.
I quickly ate a some whole wheat toast with peanut butter and chia seeds and gulped down a cup of black coffee.
While I was waiting to catch the first train of the morning, a middle-aged runner man with a mustache approached me.
“Are you running the 5K today?” he asked me.
I told him I was and proudly explained that it was my first race.
My new bud congratulated me and gave me some running tips that he learned in his 35+ years of running.
“Double-knot your shoes.” Ok, that’s easy enough.
“Run the first two miles comfortably and then give it all you’ve got.” Got it. Don’t go out to fast.
“There’s always a hill at the end, so make sure you save some steam.” Steam. Sounds good to me.
Thanks for the race advice, mustache runner man!
I arrived at Metro Center with plenty of time to spare, so I popped into the Starbucks nearby to go to the bathroom (I figured they were going to be much nicer than porta potties) and bought a bottle of water.
I walked two blocks down to Federal Plaza where the race was.
There was a lot of purple to support Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, which was what the donations for the race/walk were for.
There were plenty of runners, walkers, volunteers, and spectators mulling around.
I went on a 5 minute warm-up trot and stretched for a few minutes. Everything felt good and I was ready to go.
I found my friend Stephy!
Before the start, I was pretty nervous full of adrenaline.
The first five minutes were really fun. I loved all the people running together at the start – some shot ahead of me, and some people I passed. I felt like I was running pretty fast, about a ten minute mile pace, which was my goal. I tried to reel it in a little bit, and run comfortably just like the mustache runner man said.
Remember how I lovingly put together my 5K race playlist so that Tubthumping played as I crossed the finish line? Well, I was so pumped/nervous/excited that I turned my iPod shuffle to the shuffle setting and didn’t change it for the whole race. Whoops. But to be honest, I couldn’t even really tell you which of the songs played. My nervousness made my brain/ears slightly blackout. Guess I didn’t need to complain so much about my headphones this past week.
The course was an out and back loop combo with some random baby loops on the side. It was nice that it all flat (mustache runner man was wrong about there always being a final hill) but….
THERE WERE NO MILE MARKERS.
I died. Both on the inside and out.
Stephy told me afterwards that the water stations were at mile marker 1 and 2. Wish the race peeps would have told me that.
I made it to the first water station (and ran right past it) in the low eights. So – fastest mile I’ve run since sixth grade.
However, I had no idea at the time how far I had gone. So I kept on running my ‘lil heart out at the same pace.
At about the 12 minute mark, misery set in.
I was starting to get really tired, slightly nauseous, and grumpy. For me, getting grumpy while running can either be a really good thing and make me run faster or a really bad thing and I give up.
I didn’t give up quite yet. I ran for several more minutes and made my first big mistake.
Stopping at the water station at mile 2. I should have just grabbed a cup and kept running! Once I stopped, I was dunzo.
I got to the second water station in about 19 minutes, so that means I ran my second mile in about 11 minutes. (Though remember, I still had no idea WTF my distance or pace was.) Since the first water station was only 8 minutes out of the race and I was already back to it, I figured I only had 8 more minutes to go. Wow! I’d would blow my goal out of the water!
After a 30 second water break, I started running again. I was toast.
When I finally rounded the bend for the last straightaway, running away from the Capitol Building, I realized I still had about .50 or .75 miles to go.
Nuh uh. No way.
My choice was to vomit or not vomit.
I chose not to vomit.
At 24 minutes in to my first race, I started to walk. Defeat. I walked for 1 minute and people started passing me by the dozens.
Once I started walking, I kind of gave up. I still had 5 whole minutes to get down the last damn straightaway. Maybe I could still finish in under 30 minutes.
I ran for another minute. And walked for another minute. Etc.
Nope, not making it in under 30. My unofficial time was 32:29.
After pouting for a little while, I decided to not be too too upset about the whole thing. I pulled the under 30 minute goal out of my ass, so that shouldn’t really matter. It was my first race and I didn’t know what to expect.
I’m glad I did it, even if the race didn’t go exactly how I had planned it to go in my head. I’m glad I woke up and got to feel like a real runner for 24 minutes on Saturday morning.
P.S. Congrats to Speed Demon Stephy, who finished in 22 minutes!