Three weeks ago, in the middle of the night, I had an idea. I was going to run a road race. My first road race. (Unless you count participation as getting kissed by sweaty runners several years in a row at the 13.1 mile mark of the Boston marathon, in which case, I’ve done lots of participating.) Somewhere around 12:35 a.m., I registered for the Charles River Center 5K Run/walk.
I should make a point here that at the time I signed up, I had been running little more than 200-800 meters at a time at CrossFit. So I devised a fancy training plan: run a few 5k training runs each week. That’s 5000 meters, or 3.1 miles. Because I’m obsessive, the morning after that middle of the night, I drove out to the race course and ran the course to see if I could do it without embarrassing myself totally. I had not up until that point actually run a 5k in more than a year. I then ran four more 5ks in the following two weeks, each run progressively slower. This was a little disconcerting, but I pressed on.
On Saturday morning, I picked up my race packet, there was no backing out now! My swag bag included a t-shirt, free toothbrushes, chips, lip balm, and a mini foam football. I will not lie, I was pretty elated.
The morning of the race, I woke up and googled the number 244. Not the most significant historical occurrences, although Alexander may or may not have been born this year. I took comfort in the fact that it was an even number. I opted for my typical morning pre-exercise fare of a cup of coffee and a banana with almond butter. I went for half of the banana for fear that something disastrous would happen to my stomach before the race. It did not.
We drove out to Needham where we parked at Olin and took the short walk to the race course. The Charles River Center supports children and adults with developmental disabilities, and I was thrilled at the turnout for this worthy cause – lots of families, everyone happy and smiling.
I was not at this point nervous. I took one last port-a-potty run (possibly the cleanest port-a-potty ever), and Devon snapped this photo of me.
I then took a photo of my trusty (re: old) Mizunos before lining up at the beginning of the race. Documenting your sneaker choice is apparently important to me.
Before lining up for the race, I ran into my challenge team-leader Kati! I was thrilled to see a familiar face. We lined up together and saw a few more of our gym-mates. There were tons of folks of all abilities at the race, and a good number of families running and walking together. Devon left us as we listened to the slightly inappropriate emcee, and a keyboard rendition of the national anthem. I turned on my Pandora, and my Runkeeper app, set up my Garmin, and then we were off!
My goal for the race was to finish. Seriously. My second goal was to do so in less than 34 minutes. (Keep in mind that a) I am slow, b) I take walk breaks c) I did not train for this.) Next year when I’m running a half marathon at a pace two minutes faster than this, I shall not laugh at myself.
The first mile of the race was largely down hill, which was pretty thrilling. I was surprised at how much faster I was running than normal, and surrounded in a sea of happy runners, it was actually quite easy to keep up a good clip. I started following a fit woman about my age, and took my first walk break near the end of the first mile for a minute. (I was a little emotional and choked up here.) I finished my first mile in 9:36, including the walk break.
We then ran through a little residential cul-de-sac, and there were people on the side of the road cheering! At 1.25 miles, we had our water break. I actually stopped on the side of the road and took thirty seconds to drink my water slowly. I had not practiced the “drink water while running”, and was convinced that I’d drink too quickly, choke, or give myself a stitch.
The next three quarters of a mile were largely down hill. At my halfway point, this guy came in before they had even finished setting up the finish line stuff. In 16:50. That’s a 5:25/minute per mile pace. That, my friends, is fast.
My second mile was 10:13, winding past the Babson campus, and by the Wellesley country club. I paced with what appeared to be an 9 or 10 year old girl for a few minutes, followed a mom running with her son, and a few parents pushing their disabled child in a jogging stroller. (Seeing these kids beaming made this race so worth it.) I opted not to take a walk break other than at the water station.
My third mile was 10:53, taking three short walk breaks, and by the end I was thinking that I would like to be finished with the race. We ran past Volante Farms, and around the corner to the finish line. I saw a few gym folks near the finish line, and was pretty excited.
Here I am coming up the final hill!
Here I am realizing that I’m about to be smoked by an 11 year old, and should maybe push a little harder!
In the end, I finished in 32:14, a 10:22/minute per mile pace. Not horrific for my very first race with zero real training! (I kept on feeling shocked that fit people were finishing after me!)
Here I am a happy red-faced runner!
After the race, we walked up to the after-party where there was free Sam Adams, pizza, hot dogs, and Crescent Ridge ice cream. None of which did I eat, alas – sticking my guns to the challenge. Here I am slightly incredulous at turning down the free ice cream and re-fueling with an apple! Thank you Whole Foods!
I didn’t have to feel sorry for myself, because I got to partake in the best reward of all – free post-run massage and adjustment with Dr. Adrian of Granite Family Chiropractic!
After the race, we headed home, making a pit-stop at Chipotle. I had a bowl with lettuce, carnitas, pico de gallo, hot salsa and guacamole.
When we got home, I snacked on a cashew cookie LÄRABAR (just dates and cashews), and took a long hot shower. For dinner, I put together a beef and broccoli stir fry, and ate the extra cabbage from the previous dinner.
Feeling pretty good about things, and looking forward to the next race already!
Do you run races? Want to? (You should!) Do you remember your very first race?