Tonight I ran my first race. My first 5k. And yes, I did finish. My time was wonderful, 28:42! A 9:08 mile pace. Pretty great for my first go at it.
Running has been my 'thing' lately. It is the reason why my alarm goes off at 5:30 am every morning. To get out and worship the Lord first thing when I run and to hopefully come home and have time to get into the Word before the rest of my family is out of bed. I love this routine. I thrive on it. It also gives me time to get things started in the kitchen if I need too...and I also can surprise the kids once in awhile with a nice breakfast surprise! I'll admit, at first it was hard. I'm naturally an early riser but getting out and running 1/2 mile at first was tough. I thought I wasn't going to survive. I kept my friend Lara, whom I've never met in person and my husband refers to as one of my imaginary friends, in my mind. Every step, every success she was there encouraging me. I could hear here in my mind many mornings at 6am telling me to keep at it.
Anyway, back to my first race ever. I want to get these feelings down, so I can remember them! I need to have the kids up first thing to take ALL of them to Isaiah's K registration, to say I'm stressed about that would be an understatement! Getting back on track...
First, it really meant the world to me to have my family there. That Sam would wrangle the three kids and keep them happy and safe for the race meant so much to me. And the best part? Absolutely the best part? Crossing the finish line and instantly having two boys wrap their arms around me with so much excitement that I cried. And I don't cry. That moment, hearing that I exceeded my expectations and then having my children share in my excitement meant the world to me. And to see the smile on Sam's face as he understood what the importance of finishing well meant to me, wonderful.
I watched the one mile race which was a bunch of kids and some adults. Isaiah and I sat on the hill and he told me that someday he wants to run that race. My heart swelled right up. The kid loves to run. Just this morning I watched him practice running while we were playing outside. It was great to watch! We are hoping to run that race with him next month! Sam has actually requested that HE do it with him! As the 1 mile finishers were coming back the 5k folks started to line up. I kept to the back of the pack. Not sure where to stand and feeling like I was somewhere in a mosh pit. Everyone equipped with the running devises and me with my little hot pink iPod and neon yellow head phones, right - they aren't ear buds. Head phones that go over your head. I'm sure people laughed at me. At first I tried to be cool and push them more down the back of my head but then I just gave up! I hate ear buds.
Then before I knew it and without much warning at all, I heard the gun go off. Why do people run with their dogs? Seriously now, a group of people and a gun firing is bound to get them riled up. I remember a dog freaking out a tad at the start then I was all frazzled trying to get everything going at the same time on my ipod. I was hoping I'd have warning so I could start my timer and my music within seconds. I was all crafty and had songs lined up timing them so I would know where I was time wise based on the song I was at. It was a good plan and really pushed me! (I had songs loaded totally 35.5 minutes, I didn't even listen to the last two songs!)
Then I was off, no longer concerned about barking dogs or my neon yellow head phones and then I felt emotional. Like, "Wow, this is really me, April, running a race. For 3 miles." And I had to snap myself out of it and RUN. The start was a mad pack of the leaders moving forward, the middle runners doing their thing, and the rear bringing up the back in style. The first 1/2 - 3/4 mile is all about the fast runners getting to the front and the slow runners falling back. I passed some and was passed more. I kept my iPod on low for sound so I could be aware of the mob around me. I noticed I was breathing harder in my run earlier than usually so I slowed down a bit to pace myself. I also picked out a few 'toe runners' from my recent reading on running technique. The teenyboppers behind me were seconds away from getting my wrath of the chatty nonsense until I remembered that it was probably safe to crank my iPod up a bit. I was in my second song and making ok time. I remember passing the one mile marker wondering how in the world I was going to survive.
The terrain wasn't at all what I was used to and I felt like my feet were barely moving as I ran through grass and on dirt road. Then we tramped through a field following a path marked by the tracks of a 4-wheeler. The race wasn't what I had envisioned. It started on grass, went to side walk, back to grass, then to longer grass, then to dirt road, and the cycle kept going through. Not at all what I am used to running. Running through the grass made my feet feel crazy heavy and sluggish and I craved the sidewalk sections where I could run light on my feet again. I couldn't wait to see the 2 mile marker. I did a lot of leap frog with runners that seemed to be in the middle/back of the group. We would each have bursts of energy and run harder at different times. I need to work on stamina so that I have more energy for the last mile. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it once or twice, but just kept telling myself to put one foot in front of the other and keep going.
On the route I really had no idea where I was. I wasn't familiar with the campus that I was on at all so I had no idea of when the end was in sight, other than I knew I had passed the second mile marker. I remember turning the corner and seeing everyone waiting at the finish line and kicked it into high gear, with what I had left anyway. I had my eyes set on the two older men that had just passed me not to long ago, my legs just hurt and wouldn't move much faster. They clearly had something left that I didn't! As I approached the line I wondered what to do with my neon yellow head phones, leave them in? Risk not hearing my time? I fumbled them out in time to just hear what the name a head of me got...28:something....and then I cross and hear 28:42....I tell myself to keep it together. But I can't when my little boys wrap their huge encouraging arms around my legs. And I bend down and scoop them up and kiss them and Praise GOD for the awesome family I'm blessed with. I immediately search out Sam so I can share with him my time, and his face just said it all to me. His joy and excitement over my accomplishment. His smile. I'm sure I won't forget it. *Sigh* *Oh Happy Sigh*
I walked away feeling so wildly high, just thanking the Heavenly Father for legs that run. We celebrated by getting ice cream on the way home...Hannah girl shared my so delightfully yummy banana split! The boys each tried some new ice cream...what a treat. I can't wait to do it again!