I guess I could say I officially became a runner when I first set foot on the pavement in July. But even then it didn’t feel real. I registered for races. And it still didn’t feel official. And finally, this past Saturday, I had my first actual race, complete with special number. I did a local 10k. It’s actually a pretty nerve wracking thing. Not so much the running part, but the logistics. I was afraid I wouldn’t be where I needed to be on time, I was afraid I’d run so slow and be the last in line, I was worried I’d dress to light and be cold, or dress to warmly and be hot, and a chip. What the heck was a chip and where do I put it? Luckily I had a larger group of girls in my local chapter of Moms Run This Town(check them out) who were also doing this race, and had done it in the past. They helped me with where to park, where to check in, and how to put my chip on my shoe(FYI, you lace it through your shoe laces). I was able to follow them to the starting line, on time.
The second group of concerns came from the actual running part. I had never run 6+ miles before. The most I’ve ever done was slightly less than 5.5 miles, and that was probably about 2 months ago, before I got sick. Since then, the most I had done was 4 miles. I thought I should be okay, but was concerned about my speed. When I did 4+ miles around the neighborhood at home, especially my few 5 mile runs, I was slow. I normally hover around 11 minutes a mile when I do 2 miles runs, and that creeps up to 12-13 minutes a mile when I get to 4-5 miles. The main reason I wanted to run this 10k was so I would be able to turn in a time to Run Disney, in hopes of a better corral placement in the half marathon. Let me go a bit off track for a minute to explain.
The Princess Half Marathon(and all Disney races I believe) start people at different times. They don’t let everyone go at once, I’d imagine that would be hell with thousands upon thousands of runners. So they group runners into corrals, and each corral is staggered. I’ve been told that last year there were 8 corrals, A-H. The fastest runners, the competitive ones that won’t be stopping for pictures, start in the first corral, and each corral that is started contains slower and slower runners. When you register for the half, they ask you how fast you think you will complete the race. The lowest time you can give them without submitting some kind of proof of time(from another race, 10k or higher) is 2:45. The faster you run, the sooner you start. What’s the big deal with when you start you ask? Well the sweepers(those who remove you from the course if you are going to slowly) cross the starting line after the last corral starts. So if you are in the last corral, they start right after you, and you really have no leeway on that 16 minute mile minimum. This can be a problem if you are a slow runner or a walker. So I was hoping for a decent enough time to submit, in hopes that it would land me a spot in the middle, giving me a 20-30 minute jump on the sweepers.
Back to the race. I aimed to keep at a 12 minute pace. This still wouldn’t give me a spectacular time, but it was decent enough. I wasn’t sure I could do it though, seeing as my last 5 mile run was right at a 13 minute pace. I got up at 6:15 am(on a side note, whoever decided that early morning starts were a good idea was an ass). All of my gear was ready. Or was it? Nope. Every pair of white, non cotton socks I owned was in the washing machine. Wet. I had no time to dry them. I searched through my drawer praying to find a pair, but all I could come up with was a knee high pair of pink compression socks. They would have to do. I choked down a small bowl of oatmeal. I didn’t drink any water for fear of needing to use the rest room sometime during the race. And I left my house on time. I arrived on time, met up with my girls, and was ready.
So I got where I needed to be at the starting line. I got set up. I had my music, my ear phones, my Nathan 2 Speed Belt complete with water, Clif shot and energy chews. I was wearing compression everything. I was as prepared as I was going to be. And we started.
I started well. I was one second off of my best mile time. I felt decent…
And I ran. I ran some more after that. I noticed that my GPS was not syncing up with the distance marked on the course. I brushed it off. And at about mile 4, I hit the wall. The wall where I just wanted it to be over. The wall where I didn’t think I was going to make it. The wall where I just wanted to stop. But I kept going. I wanted to keep walking to a very minimum. There were still people behind me. I would stop and walk for 30 seconds, and I kept going. I took the hills. Normally I avoid hills at all cost during training, and if faced with them, I always walk. Not this time. I hit the 5th mile. I was almost done. I started to tear up a little and felt like crying. And I was over my wall. I stopped walking around 4 1/2 miles. I didn’t need to, because I felt good. I hit mile 6(according to the course, not my GPS) and I turned onto the street the starting line/finish line was on. And I picked it up a little. I was still running. I saw the finish line and my time. The clock was hitting 1:09 as I got closer. It was a boost, and I crossed the finish line strong.
My GPS said the course was actually 6.45 miles. I asked some of the other girls what they got, and they got around 6.4 miles as well. My time per mile was awesome. According to my GPS, I averaged 10:56 per mile, and this was after an extra minute or two was added onto my time because I forgot to stop my GPS. But officially I ran a 6.22 mile course, and I finished in 1:09:52, averaging 11:15 per mile. Spec-friggen-tacular. I also ran the first 5k of the race in record time as well. I was thrilled, and so proud of myself. I felt really good. Not only did I finish, not only did I run the longest I’ve ever run, not only did I have an amazing(for me) time, I would have a very acceptable time to submit to Disney, and hopefully that will mean better corral placement.
The rest of the day, aside from being dead tired, I felt pretty good. A tiny bit stiff in a few places, my legs felt tired, but that was it. I feel like I handled it very well. And best of all, I feel like I am officially a runner.