The last two weeks have been weird. I've missed a few runs and haven't felt like writing about the runs I made time for. The week of May 6th I did two four and a half milers, the second with strength training after, then Saturday I had a 10k, so I only missed my three miler, having a weekly total of 15.2. Actually, it's a little more than that because I ran a little longer than I needed to for each run.This week I did my four and a half miles Monday and haven't run since. I actually did have intentions of doing my second four and half miler Wednesday but when I got home my stomach was killing me. I laid around for a little while thinking it would go away but it didn't so I threw in the towel, telling myself I'd get to bed at a decent hour and get up early to run. Well, that didn't happen, and I had plans last night with old colleagues so it just didn't happen. Tomorrow I've got eight miles scheduled so it'll be interesting. My official longest run to date is 6.5 miles so this is a decent bump up. It'll be in a new location, which is never great for me, but I think it'll be relatively flat.
Now, going back to my 10k. It. Was. AWESOME! I loved it. I mean I seriously freaking loved it. The funny thing is this was the race I committed to and it sounded so scary, and now here I am signed up for a half and a full. This was my first real race. I've done fun run 5ks before, but nothing that was really official. I had to go pick up my bib and time keeper for my shoe and it all just felt very official. My mom was going to be in town and she said she wanted to come watch me. I figured it was just a 10k and not really a big deal but whatever. She's a good cheerleader.
The morning of the race I was surprised to wake up nervous. I was not expecting that at all. I've done this length before and I've run this course. It was the six mile loop I'd done two weeks prior. I assumed I'd walk the hill at the top of the Park again, especially since I heard running the direction we would in the race was more difficult than the direction I'd run it before. Oh well, I'll look a little lame with all these real runners but, whatev.
I emailed my friend Val to ask her how early I should get to the race. Val is a friend of mine from my last job. She hasn't always been a runner but a few years ago Dina got her into it, and this last year she ran her first marathon. I was so excited to cheer for her from the sidelines. I once went running with Dins and Val after work. It was just a two mile run but I struggled so much and Val said I reminded her of herself before she became a runner. That gave me some hope. People who've always been runners don't inspire me, but people who used to be like me make me feel like I really can be a runner too.
I was so happy when Val emailed me back saying she was running the race as well! Since this was my first race I was glad to know I'd see a familiar face. Val is part of a running crew Dina was in. Val told me we'd see each other at the start line, and I figured once the race started they would all speed off, which was fine and what I'd want them to do.
I was running a little later to the race than I'd anticipated, and there were 10,000 runners registered for the race so I had to run probably an extra quarter mile further behind the starting line than I expected. I was so happy when I finally saw Val. I met some of her friends and we chatted a little bit as the race started and we slowly made our way to the start line. I got separated from her in the crowd but didn't think much of it. I was a little emotional just after crossing the start line thinking about Dina. She should have been there running with us, and I really missed her. It wasn't too long after this, maybe a quarter mile into the race I felt someone touch my shoulder and I looked back and it was Val. We ran together almost the whole time.
Because we were in such a tight crowd it was difficult to go very fast. I figured I just wouldn't worry about my time. Imagine my surprise when my app checked in at my first mile and it had only been 7:41. Floored. Now I understand why everyone says be sure to pace yourself at the beginning of the race so you don't burn out later. I truly felt like we were running at a pace of an 11 minute mile or so. I ended up leveling out a bit later and finished in 1:01:57. This was for 6.56 miles, however, since I started so far back from the start line.
I can't say enough how much I loved this race. Everything people tell you about races is true. I felt like I just had a big smile for the first couple miles. Even though it was difficult to jog in such a tight crowd, it was still so fun and I felt so much energy.
When we finally got to the dreaded hill I was happy because I was feeling so great. So great I never stopped to walk. Floored, once again. I just kept thinking over and over, I can't believe how great I feel!
Val hasn't been running as regularly so she wasn't as prepared for the race as she would've liked. I ended up slowing down a bit to let her catch up with me and after the second time I did this she told me not to slow down and she'd see me at the finish line. I wanted to run with her, but when she insisted I said okay and took off. I couldn't believe how this was playing out.
It was between miles four and five I started to feel tired, and by six I was pretty much ready to be done. I pushed hard those last .2 k so I was so beat when I crossed the finish line. The finish line was in the same spot it will be at the marathon so for that last mile or so I imagined what it would feel like 6 months from now when it's marathon day. Some of the volunteers working the race were clapping and cheering and I can't believe how much it actually helped. Knowing my mom was at the finish line was awesome too. I couldn't believe how happy I was knowing she was there. I also was able to see her at the beginning of the race when I crossed the start line.
When I finished I was so beat and needed a couple minutes to get my breath, then I made my way back to the finish line to cheer on Val. She crossed the finish line and hugged me and told me how proud she was of me, and then started to cry, and then I started to cry. I know we were both thinking of Dina and wishing she was there. At Dina's funeral Val spoke about her first run and how Dina ran with her the whole way. Val has promised to pay Dina's help forward and help me with training, so this was very special to have Val with me my first race. I wish so badly Dina could have been there running with us too, but I know she was in a different way.