Well, this is my update that I was hoping to do on Saturday after the race. I should really stop thinking that I might actually get to blog 2 days in a row because it’s just not happening, lol. Another reason I’ve held off on writing was because I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around the race on Saturday. If you don’t already know what happened, I’ll fill you in.
The last time I left you, I was preparing for my biggest 5k racing challenge yet. I was feeling more than intimidated after we drove the course the day before and I got my first good look at those hills. I’ve just recently started kicking in serious hill training days in order to prepare for the Okatoma 5k race in May but this one on Saturday was much worse and much sooner than I’d anticipated. Not sure if you know this but I don’t like hills! 😦 What’s really crazy is that I wasn’t nervous on the morning of the race. I was super tired the night before (read my previous entry to find out why) and I really think, for once, not being amped up helped me. I had given myself permission to go slower if needed…to do worse than I’d ever expected…to not even beat some of the walkers – Ok, I’ll admit I was being a little overly permissive but I really thought I was going to bomb, which is not the way anyone should think when they are trying to do accomplish something. I suppose you could even say that I had come to terms with my poor performance long before the race started. When we got there, it was so nice and cool, which was a huge encouragement for me because I loathe hot weather when I’m running! I had worn my long sleeve 13.1 running shirt and my running skirt but really could have been a lot more comfy in a short sleeve shirt. I’m certain of this because by the time I had hit the first mile I was really wishing I could rip my sleeves off. There was a fair amount of people there for such a small town race but still not nearly as many as the other two in the last couple of weeks.
When we started lining up, I decided to use Jason’s suggestion again and line up near the front. This time, I lined up right beside him and we were very close to the front row. As I looked around, so many of the ladies “looked fast”. If you’ve ever raced, you know what I mean. I always look around and think, “Yep, she knows what she’s doing or he’s got his shirt off and weighs a lot less than me…he’ll run it in less than 20 mins. So, after sizing up my competition, I just prepared for the race to finally begin because I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me.
I had planned on running the first 200 yards a little faster because it wasn’t as hilly and I knew I should use that to my advantage. As I took off from the starting line, most of the front-runners did what they normally do, they left me in their dust but there were still a few folks in front of me that I could have reached out and touched. We made our first turn on to the main road that we would be running on (yes,the one with the killer hills!) and I expected a pack of ladies to pass me but they didn’t. I made it over the first hill and started my descent down. “Now, they’re going to catch me”, I thought to myself because they could gain all the speed they needed once they headed downhill. No one passed me. I kept trudging ahead, the thought of them gaining on me any minute occupied my thoughts as I closely watched my pace. Finally, a younger girl ran by me and continued on ahead and I expected the same thing to keep happening. (Was I being ultra negative that day or what??!!) We turned left off of the main road and continued our run around a school. When I turned, I could see where I had been and where the other ladies were. (I can never bring myself to actually turn around and look behind me during a race, so that’s the only way I was going to check.) I was in shock and kind of freaking out too. They were far enough behind that I had a safe lead on them but I just kept thinking that I couldn’t slow down because if I did, they’d catch me! What the heck was wrong with me?? Where did this crazy competitor come from? I’ve raced before and I’ve even beaten a few people as we approached the finish line but this…this was a whole new feeling. Going around the school gave me time to recover from the hills we’d been running on just in time to go right back on that road and run them again in the opposite direction. I was so happy to hear my Nike+ lady cheerfully tell me that I only had 1 kilometer left!! I kept a close eye on my pace but never once checked my time. I turned right to make the final loop before turning down the street towards the finish line. It was a little flatter and I was so glad of that! When I got to the turn to head towards the finish, Jason was there waiting to run in with me. I was so glad to see him but I knew what seeing him meant – Run even harder! He was egging me on to run faster and as we approached the time clock, several things happened at once. He started telling me not to slow down (I didn’t realize that I was?), my jaw dropped and I was laughing and nearly crying and then I sped up again. The clock said 29:something…I didn’t even see the other two numbers. Apparently when I saw my time, I nearly stopped completely out of shock. Thank goodness I didn’t! My time on my Ipod said 29:47. This was my 3rd personal record in 3 straight weeks/races. Each time I’ve been equally shocked and excited but never as much as this day. This is the day that changed things for me. This wasn’t a flat course….it was HILLS! Of course, immediately I started thinking it had to be a mistake even though they had clearly measured it out and spray painted the mile markers on the road. I just couldn’t believe it. With such little faith in myself, I’d done something I never expected to do (at least not any time soon).
We began the wait for them to announce the winners. Jason was telling me that he knew I’d placed but I just couldn’t let myself think I had. I’ve never won anything before in a race. (I really have confidence issues when it comes to running, if you haven’t noticed yet…I’ve Got To Work On This!) When they finally got to my age group, the announced 3rd – not me, 2nd – nope, I never thought when they announced 1st it would be me. The words 1st place and Gina Mooney have never been put together. Ever. But this day was different. I’ve had many milestones as a runner in the last year but this was like a dream. I’d imagined it while I was out running many times but never thought of it as a possible reality. I cried more than once that day when I tried to talk about it and, in fact, I did a little while writing this tonight. It may sound silly to some of you but I finally feel like I’m not just a beginner anymore. I feel like I’ve finally moved to the next level and I’m just going to keep on moving forward.
Jason won 1st in his age group too with a time of 21:36, a new personal record for him as well! We both received Olive Garden gift certificates (yum!) as our prize instead of a medal or trophy but I still ended up with one! Jason bought a medal for me that says 1st place to commemorate the first time I ever won a race and yes, I have it hanging up in our room. 🙂
So, that was Saturday’s events in a not so brief re-cap. It was pretty much a red-letter day for me. I missed my hill training tonight because of all the bad weather we had here but I’ll hit it tomorrow evening. We are thinking about racing in the Run for the Roses 5k this Saturday but haven’t decided for sure.
If I learned anything this weekend, it was to have a little more faith in myself and never give up even when it all seems uphill. If you take anything away from my blog today, I hope that you will have the confidence that I should’ve had when I was racing that day, never give up and DON’T SLOW DOWN WHEN YOU GET TO THE FINISH LINE! 🙂
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.”
1 Corinthians 9:24 ESV