Yesterday, Sunday, March 15, 2015, I completed my first 15k (9.3mi) run!
This year I decided to get serious about running longer distances. I’d dabbled with running 3-5 miles last year but wanted to push myself further. To be intentional, to train with a specific goal in mind. So in mid-January I registered to run a local 15k race. No more excuses! I’d talked the race up so much to myself and my running co-workers, there was no way I could punk out. It was going to go down.
And yes, it went down!
The training and preparation was by far the best part. I enjoyed challenging myself to run further, playing with interval pacing and inclines. Each time I had a long (7+ mile) weekend run, I tried new routes in different parts of the city. Partly so I wouldn’t get bored, but also to discover new areas that I miss when I’m zooming by in my vehicle. I live in such a beautiful city, filled with quirky people and places.
Running 10mi for the first time felt amazing! Hopped over that mental “I can’t do this” hurdle and met “I can totally do this, I’m badass!” runway. I had so many friends, family, and acquaintances leaving Facebook and Instagram comments of encouragement that fueled my desire to keep moving towards my goal. I got text messages calling me a “runner” and an inspiration to friends who “could never run that far.” Me, a runner? Did I deserve that accolade? Hell, I thought I couldn’t run that far until I did. Either way, I felt unstoppable.
The last few weeks have been hectic so I haven’t had time to sit and overthink the race. I hadn’t made a playlist or had time to shop for St. Patty’s Day themed green running ‘nalia but was OK with that. I felt ready to reach my goal of finishing the 15k without stopping to walk (or stopping and passing out for that matter).
Until the day of the race.
I inexplicably woke up at 3a on Sunday and couldn’t go back to sleep. I’d been asleep for only 4, maybe 5 hours when my eyes popped open. I heard the soft, persistent sound of rain hitting the window panes around my room. It had been raining nonstop since Friday night. Now, living in Portland this isn’t atypical, especially this time of year. Except… there hadn’t been this kind of rain in weeks!! We’ve had a sprinkle here and there, but the last 5 or so weekends have been sunny, dry, and warm. Of course the weekend the rain comes and doesn’t let up is the weekend of the race. I wasn’t really trying to run in the rain! Maybe it if was a bit misty (like it was last year for the race), but full-on fat rain drops? Ugh!
I considered backing out. I considered whether it was really that important to me to get that medal for finishing. I hate wet socks and shoes, I hate wet clothes, I hate wet hair outdoors. It was all so unappealing. Nonetheless, I got up out of bed at 6am when my alarm alerted me. I had some oatmeal, made sure my playlist was loaded to my phone, got dressed, received a sweet text message from a girl-friend wishing me a great race, and walked out the door.
More than the rain, I headed to the starting line feeling alone. This was the first race I’d run by myself. I’d run other races in Portland with my friend Liz. Each race we hyped each other up beforehand, pushed each other to keep going during the run, and slapped high fives
and desperately gasped for breath when we reached the finish line. For last year’s Shamrock 8k Run, we even dressed in homemade green tutus and fun green socks. Had she not moved last summer, I’m sure she would’ve been down again this year. I tried to get others folks to sign up for the race with me. I wanted to share the experience with others. But no takers.
So I went to the race by myself, I ran the race (and got soaked) by myself, I went home by myself. I had no one around to celebrate or commiserate with. No one to tell me I was being a big baby by complaining about the rain and the ginormous puddles covering the roads. No one to take an usie with after conquering a monstrously hilly race. Just me in a sea of thousands of people who all seemed to be with somebody or somebodies.
Though I felt a huge sense of accomplishment – I shaved 45sec of my best time running outdoors, despite about 1/3 of the race course being up hill (of varying grades) – and was extremely grateful to all those who wished me well via greeting card and running gifts, texts, or fist bumps this weekend, the actual race wasn’t fun or rewarding in the way I hoped it would be going into it. I just felt meh and longed for a companion to literally lean on and share in the achievement.
After the race, I collected my prize, grabbed a bottle of water, took a selfie to document my accomplishment (too embarassed to ask a stranger to take one of me) and headed back to my car. I didn’t stop to redeem my race vouchers for a free beer or free sample of chowder (which was hella bomb last year). I didn’t even bother to check in with any coworkers who had also ran in the race (I would see them later at a nearby restaurant for brunch).
I’m proud of myself for getting it done, so I don’t regret completing what I set out to do. When I sign up for another race (next up is a half marathon), it will definitely be with at least one other friend. No more solo missions.
Thanks to my readers for all the encouragement and support! The love has meant a lot and helped me reach prime run, girl, run levels 🙂