I did it. I ran 6.2 miles on Saturday and it never felt so good. As I mentioned last week, I have been training and preparing for the Monument Avenue 10K since January. Well race day finally got here and I was amazed at how my body rose to the challenge!
We left Blacksburg Friday afternoon and our first stop as soon as we got into Richmond was to pick up my race packet. As soon as Nic put the car in park I could feel the butterflies flutter in my stomach. I started thinking, "What in the world have I done? These people have driven all the way to Richmond to see me run-I can't back out now" (just to clarify my exaggeration here, "these people" include Nic and my parents, who would have gladly driven to Maine to see me walk one mile). Once I got out of the car and saw all the other race participants with their "free" stuff, I was more than happy to walk into the expo. There were tons of people inside but it was really well organized, so I walked right up, traded in my race postcard for my running bib/time chip and was well on my way to running my first 10K. My name even came up on the TV screen on the way out the door- proof that my time chip was activated and ready to go!
I wish I could say I slept well Friday night, but unfortunately I was like a little kid on Christmas Eve. I kept waking up staring at the clock, counting down the hours till race time. I finally woke up for the last time around 7:30 and started getting ready for my day. We were up and out of the hotel by 8:30 (the valet parking concierge gave us a little cheer on the way out the door) and around 9:00 I was lining up with my wave. I had been ok till now, but as soon as I stood with the rest of "the pack" I started freaking out. Luckily I saw my friends Lauren and Robin, who graciously decided to drop back to a slower wave to start the race with me, and I started feeling better. As we got closer to the starting line I could hear the man on the microphone say "Wave SA-2 minutes till start time, 1 minute, 30 seconds, and GO!"
And just like that we were off. Lauren and Robin were trying to run the race in 65 minutes or less. Me? I just wanted to finish it without walking, so we waved goodbye and they were soon out of sight. I put in my iPod (thank you David Crowder for your musical accompaniment) and could hear my friend Sarah's voice in my head, "Be sure you set your own pace and stick with it from the beginning, people fly out of the gate, just let them pass you, don't worry about what they're doing." Sure enough she was right, I felt like the slowest runner out there but I decided that was alright and I cranked up the volume and kept running. About a half a mile in I passed my personal cheerleaders. Mom & Dad had made me neon green and orange signs so I spotted them before they even saw me! The route was really flat and lined with cheering fans. I started hurting after about a mile and a half but luckily I knew there was a water stop at the 2 mile marker so I kept running thinking about the water! Sure enough I grabbed my water, chugged it (not sure how much of it really went into my mouth though) and kept on running.
I finally reached the halfway point and was feeling good; my legs weren't too heavy and my breathing was pretty steady. I kept looking for the bright mile marker signs and slowly but surely I passed Mile 4 and 5. After I passed the 5th mile marker I knew I had to rely on my adrenaline to propel me forward since my longest training run was 5 miles. That little voice in my head (some might call it Sarah) reappeared and I started to visualize crossing the finish line and what satisfaction I would feel when I was done. So I pushed forward and gave it everything I had.
I finished in 1:16:54, not bad considering I wasn't worried about time at all. I had just run 6.2 miles straight WITHOUT walking AT ALL and no one can ever take that away from me. Walt Disney said it best when he said "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."
You can read more about April's life here. I'm so thankful I met her and look forward to running with her more and making some more lasting memories. April sent me this picture over e-mail. It made my day and brought a huge smile to my face. This is just the beginning of what I see for GYRO.
I'd love to see some pictures and stories from your upcoming races. Be sure to send them to me!