I’ve heard runners describe how great it feels crossing the finish line, but I’ve never understood that feeling until I turned the corner and started nearing the small crowd of people cheering me on.
I played sports all throughout my life growing up. I was pretty good at them too. I was an all-state tight end in football, won three state powerlifting championships, and pretty much played any sport my school offered. I always tuned out the thousands of cheers from the crowd though. I was in the zone. The only thing on my mind was beating the other guy.
You don’t have that luxury in a race because you’re not running to beat someone else. It’s you against yourself. It’s you with everyone else.
I’m guessing there are many runners who are in the zone and tune out everything else, but nearly everyone at my first 5K wasn’t in it to win it. They were there for the challenge. The community. And just plain fun.
As I crossed the finish line, I could see the runners before me cheering me and the others on. They didn’t finish and move along. They stood by that line and waited until the last old man walked in. Everyone was a winner because everyone finished the challenge.
Over the last few years, that competitive nature in me had grown dormant. I graduated high school and turned down a few football scholarships. I’d lost sports and didn’t have anything to fuel that part of me.
Fast forward to today. That competitiveness that I’d thought was gone forever reawakened. Part of me missed those cheers that I thought I’d tuned out. Part of me knew that I could train hard enough to cross the finish line first. But, the biggest part of me realized that competition is always against one’s self. I can keep my competitive edge by continuously challenging myself.
The good and the bad
The good: I finished my first 5K. Woo-hoo!
The bad: I finished my first 5K in almost 35 minutes.
After nine weeks of training and knowing that I could finish a 5K in 28 minutes, my first race was honestly a disaster. The experience itself was fun, but I blew my prep work.
The first mistake I made was not training in the morning. I typically run in the evening, so my body wasn’t prepared for a 7 a.m. race. It’s usually tough for me to get up in the mornings and run because I’m up late working and worrying too much about email when I roll out of bed. I’m definitely fixing this problem though.
The second mistake I made was not turning off my cell phone the night before. I went to bed at 8 p.m. and dozed off quickly. My sister called me after 9. My sleeping schedule was shot. I was awake for the next six hours and couldn’t get myself to go back to sleep.
Fortunately, I did have my housemate (my training partner) with me. He helped push me and honored our agreement to finish our first race together. All bets are off for the next race though. :)
I'm still gathering pictures from the race. If I can teach my family members how to upload and email pictures larger than 400px wide, I'll post them. Or, I might just post whatever I can get, which is probably my best option.