I ran my first 10K on June 2nd!
Hard to believe that only a year ago, I had never even run a mile. I started the Couch to 5k program in July of 2012, completing it in early September of 2012. Now I can run without stopping for twice as long!
I didn't run the 10k in the time I was hoping for or expecting (and I was being realistic based on my training pace!) but I felt really accomplished because it was 80 degrees out, sunny, and with over 90 percent humidity, something we're not used to this early in June! My legs didn't hold me back, dizziness and managing my breathing in the heat did. It was also a challenging course, we gained 196 feet in altitude because of all the hills.
I wanted to stop BASICALLY the entire time, but I never did, except to pause a few times at water stations. Other than that, I kept on running. Did I run fast? No. Did I even run my normal slow pace? No. But I kept going, even when my ipod ran out of music on my playlist because I was four minutes behind schedule.
That entire last mile took everything I could to just keep on running... especially since there were two women near me who kept walking, then sprinting, then walking. They must have passed me fifteen times only for me to jog on by them when they started walking. Every time they slowed down, I wanted to start walking, too. Only my determination to run this 10k, the whole thing, without stopping, kept me going. I was going for completion, not a time, and I did it.
There's a picture of me throwing up my hands in victory and shouting "FIRST 10K!!!" (making spectators laugh) as I ran across the finish. I have never felt such a runner's high as I did coming across that finish line right then. The heat, the hills, the intense, nagging urge to just give up and walk was so fresh in my memory that I knew for certain that I had just accomplished something great. I was in a great mood the entire rest of the day. Not a good mood, a GREAT mood.
Now, as I look at my pace (10:55 minute miles) I feel a little ashamed. "That's barely running!" My brain shouts. "You've run a 5k in 9:50's! You've run 5 miles of hills in 10:04s! You've run a 5k PUSHING BOTH KIDS in 10:15s!!!! WHAT IS THIS?!!"
I have to squelch that voice and remember that feeling of ecstasy I had when I crossed that finish line, when I remembered exactly how hard it was going up those hills and running in that heat. Running that slow meant I was out in the heat and the sun exerting myself for over an hour. That is an accomplishment.
The fact that my legs didn't feel like post-race legs the next day isn't surprising - I can run a better pace than that. But I finished, I didn't get heat stroke, and I can harness that nagging "WHAT IS THIS?!" voice on my next training run to start picking the pace up and getting faster this summer.
Was it hard? Yes. Did I do it? Yes. Am I awesome? Yes.
There will always be people who are faster than you, and there will always be people that are slower than you. The trick is knowing what you can do and pushing hard enough so you feel that runner's high as you cross the finish, rather than disappointment.
For your first race of any distance, you're battling that mental "can I do this whole thing?" worry that keeps you running a little slower than you might otherwise, because you're afraid of walking that last mile. And that's ok, or at least it is with me. Now that I know I can do it, next time I can focus on doing it faster.
Run fun :)