Previously I had set a goal of completing my first 5K in 40 minutes. In theory that sounded reasonable, except I forgot to take into account the infamous hills at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. And the fact that I’d have to run up them. Twice. On the second loop I actually had to walk up part of one and my overall pace was close to what it was when I was freaking out, but y’know what? That’s okay because I completed a 5K. Like, a legitimate one with finish line and race bib and everything. I finished in about 47 minutes (I was so excited just to finish that I neglected to pay attention to the seconds, just that it was 47 minutes, so it could have been 47:04 or 47:54) and for a woman who five months ago wasn’t running at all, I will happily take it!
|Race Bib and Tech Shirt|
As I crossed the finish line, the first person I saw was my college roommate Megan. Being the speed demon that she is (well, compared to me), she finished way ahead of me but hung out at the finish line waiting for me to cross. How fabulous is that? Of course, one of the things she said to me was “Wow, you picked a brutal one for your first.”
Yes, yes I did. This was an accidental “go big or go home” deal.
Hills aside, this still wasn’t easy. Even though I run this distance about once a week, the race environment changes thing. Especially when y’all start and everyone ahead of you bursts forward and you’re lagging behind. And I admit that for the first, oh, half mile I let that get to me. Looking over my shoulder, concerned I’d be the very last person. But then I remembered that the only person I was really in competition with was myself and it didn’t matter what everyone else was running. So I turned up the volume on my playlist and just ran.
At about the halfway mark, where we looped around near the front of the zoo, there was a crowd of volunteers and spectators clapping. With the energy and adrenaline and endorphins, I turned into a grinning fool as I ran past their cheers and felt myself well up just a wee bit because, hi, I was competing in a 5K. Like, what?
The running community was incredible and I loved that as I was coming down the final leg to the finish line, runners who had already finished and were walking through the zoo kept encouraging me on, like “You’re almost finished!” and “It’s just ahead!” Gave me that final push to pick up my pace through that last little bit.
Admittedly I’m still trying to process all of the emotions wrapped up in this. I only started running in February and ran my first 3 miles only two months ago. And now I have completed my first 5K. Make no mistake, this is only my first. There will be many, many more and (hopefully) eventually 10Ks and half-marathons and maybe even a marathon one day. I also changed the photos in my header: if those two pictures side by side don’t show the true journey I’ve taken over the past year and a half, I don’t know what else would.
I completed a 5K, people. A 5-freaking-K. That’s just crazy, but it’s not because, um, I did it. And I already want to run another one, though next time I’ll check the hill situation before signing up.
Love from the ashes,