In this year of running, I have signed up for one half marathon I could not finish and completed a local Thanksgiving Day 5K and a 5K fun run. In light of this, the Lawyers Have Heart 10K felt like the first “real” race for which I’d trained. It was also the first race I attempted on my own! I signed up for this 10K because I needed a little extra motivation to commit to my training. I’ve spent all of 2015 preparing to begin half marathon training in July, but I was tired of “pre-training.” I was anxious to run a race. I wanted to see what I could do! I’d initially considered the NYC Oakley Mini 10K, but I’m happy I decided to pick a local race in the end. I could handle all my pre-race jitters close to home.
My long run the previous weekend had been 5.5 miles, and although that went well, I was still nervous about tackling a 10K – even if it was only an extra 0.7 miles. I was also happy to see the endurance I’d lost during my running breaks (to heal my shins) was slowly returning. That 5.5 mile run felt infinitely better than the last 5 miler I’d attempted. In that case, I was tired; I wanted to stop; I needed to walk. On the last run, I knew I could get it done and finish strong.
As I wrote in my weekend wrap-up, I went to Truckeroo Friday night and may have committed too heavily to the dairy train…thank god it all worked out but noted for next time. At my apartment that night, I set out my breakfast, lay out of my flat runner and even tucked my apartment keys and money into my shorts’ pockets lest I forget in the morning. I didn’t want to forget one thing.
I tried to go to sleep early that night, but as I’ve read countless times before in other recaps — I was too excited and nervous. I thought, “Can I really do this? Did I train correctly? Will my stomach act up?” At some point before midnight, I did stop watching Orange is the New Black and finally fall asleep.
In the morning, I assessed the stomach situation (still not great, but okay), made my breakfast (toast, peanut butter, banana), and sipped on Nuun. I don’t usually eat before my longer runs in the morning, but I was nervous I’d spend 6.2 miles with a growling stomach so I went with a tried and true breakfast and it worked. It did turn out, however, that I drank a little too much water because I spent most of the race in need of a bathroom. More on that later. Still – better a little discomfort than suffer from dehydration, right?!
I was running a little behind schedule in the morning, but I was able to walk to the race in 7 minutes flat. It was a gift to be so close! In fact, when I turned out of my apartment that morning, I was surprised to see the course was only feet from my apartment! I was able to enjoy the set-up on my walk to the starting line and get a glimpse of the 6-miler marker. The site of other runners walking to the start also calmed my nerves (they weren’t at the start line either) and made me nervous all over again (look at their warm-up runs! should I be doing that?!)
I picked up my packet during in-person registration at City Sports a couple days before the race so all I needed to do was get into place. When I joined the crowds, I did have a little time to kill so I opted to warm-up and do my leg swings where I could find room. I might have looked a little funny, but I wasn’t going to risk starting this race out tight and cramped.
After that I lined up right behind the 10-11 minute pack so I could let them run ahead, but I could stay ahead of the 12 minute group. I wanted to treat the first couple miles nice and slow to avoid burning out near the end where I was most concerned about pushing. Once I was in my spot, I ran through my mental checklist of my to-do list and looked down to realize I’d forgotten one thing: setting my Garmin! The race started under the highway on K ST and thus, I was immediately concerned it wouldn’t be able to find a location under there in time. Of course, at this point, the announcer is shouting, “Five minutes!,” but I popped out from my spot in the corral under the bridge and luckily, my Garmin found a signal in no time.
As the minutes clocked closer to the 7:30am start time, the announcer reminded the crowd to just put one foot in front of the other, and guys, I got teary. I am so lame, but running has given me so much this past year and here I was — finally putting it in action. I was so excited! By the time my first marathon rolls by, I’m going to be a big ‘ol happy, tired, teary mess.
Once the elites took off, it only took a few minutes for my group to reach the start line and a handful feet before the start line, we were off! It was pretty incredible to see the crowd of runners in front of me. I think I’d choose to be near the end just to see that site. The course led west down K St before u-turning on to a highway. I kept checking my Garmin to make sure I was keeping right above 11 minutes for the first mile and was happy to see I wasn’t alone.
We ran toward M ST, and I caught a glimpse of the elites returning from the turnaround and joined in the cheering with the rest of the runners. Whether you’re fast, slow or in between — runners cheer on other runners, and I love that.
I started the race with a T-Swift song (ya know), but then quickly remembered why I don’t run to music. It pumps you up, sure, but then I need to remember I still have six miles to go! Podcasts are my heaven. They settle me down, keep me entertained and get me in the zone. I saved an episode of This American Life just for the occasion and it turned out to be a great musical edition that kept my brain busy while I chipped away at miles 1-3 (11: 28, 11:00, 10:38).
As I mentioned before, I needed to use the bathroom pretty much from mile 1, but it was worse at mile 2.5/3. When I came across the only bathroom stop on the race right before mile 3, I decided what the heck and joined the line with five people in front of me. However, thirty seconds into waiting I decided to keep going. My legs felt good! I also felt the clock counting, and I didn’t want to spend the race at a standstill unless I felt like my body needed it. I’m really glad I kept going. Plus, the discomfort lessened as the miles pressed on, and I continued to sip on my Nuun during the race as the heat rose with no problem.
I did consider walking during many parts of the races, but not because my body was yelling for a break. My brain was the wimp! “Shouldn’t we be stopping for a break by now?” But I know I didn’t need one. I felt good! I could do this! In fact, my legs chugged up every hill as they pushed through the half way mark and onto mile 5 (10:26, 10:39). My legs were pulling me through.
During the last mile, you reach the center of the race course and have to run away from it before turning around and running toward the finish line. Mentally, it was hard to run in the opposite direction knowing I’d have to run it all back again, but I sloped down under Washington Circle and back up it. Once I hit the turn around, I knew I was close. I ran under the circle again, past my apartment and retraced the walk I did from my building that morning. I picked up speed and saw that I was in the 9:30s, and I felt good. I don’t know how accurate my Garmin/Runkeeper is as I ran under so many underpasses, but the numbers do look like I did a good job at continuing to chip away at the time (10:09, 10:01).
I crossed the finish line yelling, “I did it!” in my head and picked up my first medal. Official time: 1:09:17! I kept walking after crossing the finish line and explored the post-race area before pausing to stretch and check on my shins (they felt a-okay).
I picked up a snow cone on my walk home (how nice of a post-race treat is that?), and a stranger was kind enough to take my photo with my medal! I am still smiling after my first 10K race finish. I was so nervous, but I powered through, ran it start to finish with the exception of that brief bathroom stop, and it gave me the confidence to start my half marathon training plan in two weeks 🙂