On September 1st of last year, I ran in my first ever organized 5K race. I had my sister with me by my side, and I still consider the entire event to be one of the proudest moments of my life. If you want more details of that race, please go back and read my blog about that by clicking here.
This year, one day before the anniversary of that wonderful day, I ran in the same race. This time, for reasons I’ll likely get into in a future entry, my sister could not run with me. Last year, I gave her A LOT of credit for pushing me to keep running and to get me to the finish line in 29 minutes and 45 seconds. Without her there, I hoped to have a comparable time this year. That was always my goal if I got to another race.
I practiced the distance on a treadmill at gyms a decent amount of times over the last few weeks and months. I did not do nearly the amount of practicing I did the year before. I also did not get to run outdoors as much as I did last year. However, I want to make it very clear that I am not making any excuses for anything. I just couldn’t make the outdoor running happen this time.
During some practice runs last year I learned VERY QUICKLY that running on a treadmill and running on pavement are INCREDIBLY different activities. My legs did NOT like outdoor running at all last year. This time around, they were a bit more accustomed to it, even if I didn’t do it as often.
Also, as I’ve mentioned in previous entries, I’ve been doing DDP Yoga for over a year. By coincidence, my initial 13 week program ended the day of last year’s race. It was a great culmination of effort on various fronts for me. For most of the time since last year’s race and this year, I didn’t follow any pre-planned program with DDP Yoga, I just made it up as I went along. However, leading up to the race, I again made sure to follow a specific 13 week program, but this time I made it a harder one. I’ve also been eating A LOT healthier than I’ve been used to and I’m likely in the best shape of my life.
A day or two before the race, I had a dream about it and in that dream, I finished it in 28 minutes and 50 seconds. I had also told people who I would be very satisfied if I completed it in 31 minutes. The way I looked at it now, I had the goals in front of me. It was just up to me to make it happen.
Fast forward to race day, August 31st, 2013. I was nervous. I didn’t know what I was capable of that day. A few of my recent practice runs didn’t go so well. I had my MP3 player ready and I chose to use the exact same playlist I had used during last year’s race, but as I said before, this time I was doing it alone.
At 9:20 am, former New York Giant, “Touchdown Maker” Stephen Baker fired the gun and we were off. I believed I was doing well, but early on I had a bit of discomfort in my side. I slowed down to a brisk walk. I walked a few times during last year’s race, but this time I had started my walk A LOT sooner than I did last year. I was now concerned about my time.
I picked up the pace and ran until I had to start walking again. This happened a few times, but at no point did I ever stop moving. Well, that’s not true. At one point I had to stop moving since I noticed my shoelace was about to be undone. Once I fixed that, I kept moving. Slightly after the 2 mile mark of the race is the only real hill in this path. It’s a little steep, and after running/walking 2 miles it can seem like an issue for inexperienced runners such as myself. At this point, since I was not confident of my time, I was determined to RUN all the way up that hill. Even if my time was lousy, at least I had that accomplishment.
The race finishes on the track at the high school in my town. When I got to the track, I had to run about 70% of the distance around the track. Well, I didn’t run 70% of it, I walked some of it. When I came around the bend and saw the time, I saw it was past 31 minutes, but once the finish line was in front of me, I took off and ran across and finished in 32 minutes and 13 seconds.
I did not hit either of my goals, but at no point then or since have I been disappointed by that. I crossed the finish line, and that itself is a wonderfully rewarding feeling. I have no complaints about the result. The time may not be what I wanted, but I did learn two things from it. The first was that I CAN do this. The second (which may be more important) is that I started out too fast, and that’s really where my sister came in last year, as she paced me and at various times had me slow down.
The title of this blog had been picked out for a long time. It’s a line from Faith No More’s song, “Stripsearch.” It’s on my running playlist. When I picked it for my playlist, I did not pick it because of that line. I actually forgot about the line. I picked the song because they had done the theme from “Chariots of Fire” as the intro to the song during their reunion tour in 2009 and 2010. When I heard the line during last year’s race, I got emotional and motivated to “win” the race. This year, it was more appropriate, since I was doing it alone.
Last year my sister and I crossed the finish line together. I’ll say it again, it was one of the proudest moments of my life. This year, I crossed the finish line by myself. It was different, but still very rewarding. It wasn’t the culmination of things that last year’s race was, but it was the culmination of what had been an incredibly good week. And I will explain all of that in another entry in the near future.
I do look forward to competing in more races and I hope my schedule will allow it to happen. But, like anything obstacle or challenge in my life, that’s up to me to fix. My determination is stronger than it’s been in a very long time to make some more changes. The line “I’ll win this race, I’ll leave alone, arrive alone” does not necessarily just apply to a 5k race I do, it applies to life. Life is a race. I am in no rush to get to life’s finish line, but I WILL win the race….
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