Yesterday was the big day! After beginning training with the YMCA training team in January, all that preparation came to a head yesterday morning at 9:30 when I began the Monument Ave 10k race! This has been a goal of mine for a few years now, but I honestly just never thought I could do it.
Like I’ve said here before, I have never had the affinity for running, and it was only 3 years ago that I ever really got on a treadmill and attempted a slow jog. I remember dreading the mile run during gym class in middle school, so running in a 10k was a big deal for me!
This week leading up to the race, I was definitely a little skeptical of whether I was “ready” for race day. The coaches told us at our final group run that we were race day ready, but I wasn’t buying it. The training schedule this past week leading up to the race was very light, so I was even more skeptical of how on earth this training program had me ready for the race.
Being silly before we left for the race
I woke up Saturday morning and ate my normal cereal for breakfast. They encouraged us not to break routine on race day, so I stuck with what I was used to eating. My friend and I arrived there with about 15-20 minutes to spare, which was the perfect amount of time. We had enough time for a last minute porta-potty stop and some stretching. Next thing I knew, we were up to the start line with the rest of our wave, and then we were off!
My friend and I don’t typically run together – she has a faster pace, so she and I went separate ways pretty early on in the race. I started off pretty slow. Part of that was intentional and part of it was due to the massive crowd. Our coaches recommended we not cater to the temptation to start out fast. With all the excitement and adrenaline pumping, I can see how it would be easy to do that, but I was determined to start out slow and steady for the first half of the race.
It was such a massive crowd, that it took me a little while to get into a good rhythm. Although they do a good job of separating folks out into waves based on times, there’s no perfect system. Probably about a mile into the race, I noticed a woman who seemed to be running close to my pace, so I “stalked” her for a good portion of the first half of the race. I didn’t run next to her, but was slightly behind her. I tried to keep up with her, which worked pretty well until she stopped at one of the water stops.
For those who aren’t local, this race is a major deal here in Richmond. It’s such a festive atmosphere – folks line the streets and there are bands playing all along the course. And not to mention that the race is run through a great part of town (a gorgeous street lined with beautiful old homes). It really makes for an enjoyable run. I was having such a good time, I was surprised when we hit the half way point, and I was still feeling pretty good. I saw my parents just before we hit the turnaround (the race is run 3 miles up Monument Ave and then 3 miles back), so that was pretty cool.
By that time, I was definitely in a groove. I think it would have required more effort to stop my legs than to just keep going, which was a cool feeling. Around the 4th mile, I saw my friend’s husband and kids. I hadn’t seen her since early on, so I figured she was way ahead of me. Shortly after mile 4, I grabbed some water and my friend found me. I was shocked to see her. At that point, I was bound and determined to stay with her until the end. Like I said, she has a faster pace than me, so I figured that keeping up with her until the end was feasible at that point in the race.
Around mile 5.5 or 6, I saw Kevin!! He had a work obligation on Friday night and all day Saturday, so I knew he couldn’t be there. Needless to say, I was shocked when I saw him cheer me on towards the end of the race. Luckily, his school event was just a few blocks away from the end of the course, so we was given permission to sneak away for an hour to find me! It was such a nice surprise!
As my friend and I approached the end of the course, the cameras above took our pictures. We were right beside each other at that point, so I’m hoping we are together in some of the pictures. Next thing I know, I see the banner at the finish line and I could hardly believe it was almost all over. What an adrenaline rush!! We did it!!
I felt such a mixture of emotions at the finish line. I wasn’t too concerned with my time, but I was really psyched that I didn’t have to stop and walk. It was such a sense of accomplishment, but it was mixed with a little sadness. I sort of felt some emotion coming on the day or so before the race, mostly because Andrew wasn’t going to be around when I accomplished this goal of mine. Not that he would have been old enough to really be proud of me or anything, but it would have been so nice to see him at the finish line. And I think part of me was just a little sad that it was over. It has been such a build up for me over the past couple of months, that I’m sort of sad it’s all over. Thanks, Mary, for encouraging me to do this! It was so much fun to do it, and to do it with you! 🙂
I met up with my parents after the race and we went out to lunch to celebrate. I try to be somewhat healthy when I eat out, but not yesterday. I went for a nice juicy cheeseburger at Red Robin! Yum!!!!
When I came home after lunch, I posted something on Facebook about the mixture of emotions I was feeling, and about how it was bittersweet that I had finished the race without my son at the finish line. A wonderful woman of God left a comment about my post, reminding me that Andrew will be at the finish line of my race. In spiritual terms, my race is not complete yet, but when it is, I will run into the arms of Jesus and Andrew will be there. It brought some tears to my eyes, and was such an encouragement. As wonderful as it was to finish my first 10k yesterday, it is no comparison to the real race I am running (which may be a whole post altogether soon). And the finish line of my earthly race will be filled with nothing but pure joy! There will be no mixture of emotions on that wonderful day! Praise the Lord for that!
So, now that the big day has come and gone, I have to say that all the training was worth it! I certainly didn’t break any records, but it was so rewarding and I’ve already got hopes of improving my time for next year. For a first timer, I don’t think just under 74 minutes is half bad! I also think I may have caught the running bug. I’m already looking into some 5k’s and maybe another 10k later in the spring. We’ll see!
…. since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.