You see, while this was only a 5k and I am completely capable of running 3.1 miles without stopping, this was my first solo race. K is, at this point, 6+ months pregnant, and earlier in the week when we ran together she needed to take a walk break after our first lap. I decided to sign up knowing I'd have to run it alone, and immediately began to feel that wary, niggling sensation that accompanies an undertaking I'm unfamiliar with. M would be at the finish line to greet me, but how would I motivate myself? Who would say, "Just one mile to go!" and urge me on? Who would keep me on-pace?
Running alone can be rewarding for its own reasons, although I usually prefer to run with K. Racing alone, however, was a new and daunting experience.
|The crowd gathering for the start line.
To further prepare myself, I updated and reorganized my playlist so I'd have all my favorite running songs to listen to.
The morning of the race dawned perfect and bright. I wore K's and my usual race outfit to give myself a mental boost. I bumped into a couple of students of mine and an old colleague. The race was relatively small (compared to the others I've run, including the Komen 5k), so I was up near the starting line. The dogs were well-controlled (if not a little noisy) and the route was familiar (the same as the Komen 5k, putting me at quite the advantage).
Soon my fears were alleviated. By the first quarter mile I'd found a tall blond with a unique stride (she bounced on her tiptoes rather than using her heel to push off) to run behind, and kept with her for the first 1.5 miles or so. Then, however, she began to slacken her pace and I found myself in a clump of five people. I pushed through and ahead, and then kept pace with a woman and her pitbull. During this leg of the race, I found I was annoyed that I had programmed my Nike+ for a 5k because it kept giving me my pace in kilometers. Ah well, little problems, I figured. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing.
I loved watching the dogs running by. A huge great dane overtook me, his owner sprinting to keep up. Eventually my pitbull-buddy proved to be a little swift for my pace, so I found another oblivious partner to stare at. Eventually, though, I overtook her, too.
My first solo race experience was nerve-wracking because races give me butterflies anyway. This was the best I could have asked for in getting used to racing alone: the distance was right, the number of participants was perfect - enough to blend in with but not enough to get lost among, I had run the exact same route just three weeks before, and there were plenty of animals to distract me.
Another great thing about this race was that M recorded my finishing sprint. This is the first time I've seen live-action footage of myself in motion, so I was able to see how my strides have changed and improved, and I also saw where improvements can be made. I lean forward too much when sprinting, but otherwise my form doesn't look too terrible!
- African Aid 5k on April 21 (raising money for World Vision to benefit children affected by AIDS in Africa)
- Race for Grace 10k on May 26 (raising money to support Teen Challenge Women's Home for women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction)