Oh my. I did it. I actually finished my first 5K today. I feel such a sense of accomplishment in doing something that I never thought in a million years I would ever do. It almost doesn’t seem like it was me that did it, although I have the sunburn to prove it. It is just the antithesis of the narrative I had created for my life many years ago. I actually found myself welling up with tears when everyone was lined up at the start line, seeing so much enthusiasm from the people around me. I can’t think of too many other times in my life where I felt such a sense of community. There were probably close to 800 people there. Seeing the entire mass of humans with their bright t-shirts ahead of me, running in unison for the first 1/5 mile or so was just spectacular. I’m so proud of finishing (it took me just a little under one hour in close to 100 degree temperatures) and that I even considered challenging myself this way when just yesterday I was considering skipping the event altogether.
My foot has been hurting pretty consistently for the past few weeks, and after standing up and making the rounds at my BBQ this past weekend, it was in really bad shape. I spent close to 45 minutes on Sunday night after my guests left just soaking them in the big, metal tins I had been using to hold soda and beer and in the morning had to take three aspirin to make the pain go away for a bit. It seemed rather silly to put myself through more pain just to say that I had crossed something off my bucket list, so I was truly considering not taking part today. I don’t really know what really caused me to change my mind. The aspirin did help and staying off my foot as much as possible did too. Oddly enough, my feet barely hurt today. It’s the weirdest thing. I also consciously set out my exercise clothes last night, hoping that would help me make a decision as I had to get up earlier than usual to make it to the race on time.
Then last night while I was sleeping, I had two dreams related to today’s race. In the first one, I ran the entire course (I could visualize it perfectly) and ended up being the first runner to cross the finish line. In the second dream, I was talking to friends about having run the race, and sharing with them how excited I was to have been a part of it. If there was any doubt before this morning, those dreams solidified that I was meant to be a part of the 5K today, and luckily when I woke up, my foot was only mildly unhappy. I also woke up with that frantic nervous energy that one gets before doing something exciting/terrifying. I can’t recall the last time I quite felt that way. Whereas I’m usually groggy and need several cups of coffee to become truly alert, it was as if I had a pre-running runner’s high. I don’t know if that’s a thing but it was so different to feel awake for once so early in the morning, and all because of doing my first race ever.
The race itself was somewhat challenging. Like I said, it was so incredibly hot, even early in the morning. I kept moving myself as close to the shade as possible because it was pretty unbearable. The hardest stretch was the last 1/6 or so. I was starting to really feel the effect from the heat, some very slight dizziness and my arms felt so stiff. I looked back once or twice for one of the medic golf carts as I was briefly considering asking them for a ride to the finish line. A handful of times I questioned my decision making entirely; why should I keep going in that heat when I’m not being chased by anything and it’s not like there’s a medal or true prize at the end besides personal sense of satisfaction? I stuck it out though, and it was pretty fantastic when I finally saw the finish line in sight. It didn’t make me move any faster, but mentally it was a major pick me up for sure. Luckily I had some friends who were also racing and while they finished much faster than I did, they were waiting for me in the shade in the last stretch, encouraging me and taking pictures as I crossed the finish line.
Overall I am glad I did it, and I am glad it’s over. Early July 5K, 10Ks or anything else is really difficult with the heat even with the occasional shade. The sense of community and seeing my very first bib with the number assigned to me was priceless, and a memory that I will take with me forever. More than anything, I am very proud of having done something so utterly out of my comfort zone. It’s invigorating to the soul to push yourself beyond what you previously thought was possible and while I will be taking a break from racing for a little bit, I think I may just have caught the running bug.