Last weekend, I completed my first 5K race since my hamstring injury almost 3 years ago. Before race day, there were several occasions where I considered not doing the race. My mind was filled with so much self doubt and worry about finishing last. Additionally, I was self conscious about being the most overweight person there. I was fortunate to have two wonderful friends, Jen and Tina, with me for moral support who probably wouldn’t let me quit if I tried.
Even though the race didn’t start until 8:30 AM, we were instructed to be there by 6:00 AM in order to secure a parking spot. The morning was cold a 29 degrees, so we sat in the car with the heat on drinking coffee and talking trying to pass the time until it was time to head over to the starting line. Tina brought a pillow and tried to get an extra hour of sleep while we waited, but we were too busy having fun for her to get any shut eye.
Finally, it was our turn to step up to the starting line. Our starting position was Corral M, so we still had to wait a bit for our turn to take off. I was really impressed with the organization of the race. Everything seemed to go off like clockwork. Our original plans was to all run together, but I was worried about holding Jen and Tina back so I insisted that they run their own race and we would meet up at the finish line. Of course they wouldn’t have anything to do with my suggestion, so I pushed even more. Jen finally gave a little and said “Maybe I will start with you and then maybe take off” I told her to do what SHE wanted to do and not to worry about me. Tina, on the other hand wasn’t interested in my suggestion and said that she was just here for the fun and wasn’t planning on leaving my side. When the starting pistol, or what ever they used, went off, Jen took off and I never saw her again until after the race. It was so funny, I couldn’t stop laughing about it.
With Tina by my side, we started off at a good pace. My goal was to try and run at a steady pace that would allow me to run more with less walking breaks. For a while, I did pretty well, but then, my calves started cramping up and I had to stop and stretch. The cramps continued for at least half the race. I was really frustrated by this and was starting to feel defeated; moreover, the hills in the area made the race a bit more strenuous than I expected and was forced to stop several more times to stretch before the cramps finally subsided. Once the cramps were gone, I was able to pick up the pace a bit and with that, my mood picked up as well.
I would have to say that my biggest memory of the race was Tina beside me. No matter how slow or fast my pace, Tina, with her long stride, walking beside me the entire time. On the final mile, I even picked up my pace to a steady jog and she never broke her stride. I want legs like that. With less than a half mile to go, I picked up my pace even more and was a steady jog, when the finish line came into site, I took off at a full out run and crossed the finish line.
After the race, we met up with Jen and was treated to a cup of hot chocolate to drink, and a small cup of chocolate fudge to dip yummy snacks into. I was so proud that I finished my first race since my leg injury that I was ready to sign up for another one.