This morning, I kicked some ass. Granted, a good bit of it was my own, but still, there was some mighty fine ass-kicking going on in NYC today. I ran my very first 5K. What do you think about that?
I signed up for the Liz Padilla Memorial 5K 2 months ago, and I’ve spent the past several weeks training, worrying, and swearing my way to this morning’s race. I had some good runs, some really bad runs, and a minor run-in with a pile of dog shit. I showed off my first running blister like it was my first born, and I used bags of frozen vegetables to ice my wonky knees. I also learned that it’s ok to still think running sucks a little bit. Everything came to a head this morning, when I woke to a big pile of nerves and the panic that, “Crap, I have to run 3.1 miles, and I really hope I don’t embarrass myself.”
We arrived in Park Slope with an hour to spare, due to my neurosis and general disdain for being rushed. This came in handy when we parked on the opposite side of Prospect Park and had to walk a mile to the starting line. Not good for the nerves. I signed in, picked up my goodie bag (by the way, Brooklyn Bar Association, thanks for the new Tom Jones CD. Great swag. Can’t wait to put it on my iPod.), and progressed into a full-on anxiety attack.
I stretched, retied my sneakers for the fifteenth time, and did a quick appraisal of the other runners. Young guy in the singlet with the shaved legs? He’s going to beat me. Girl with the GPS wrist thingy running sprints? Definitely going to beat me. School children from P.S. 161? Might have a chance. Older man fueling up the donut and can of Mountain Dew? Jackpot.
I said my goodbyes to my personal cheering section (thanks to Greg, sister Adrianne, and soon-to-be-runner Lindsay), and walked a good 600 feet to the starting line. (Again, Brooklyn Bar Association, poor planning on that.) While everyone else listened to the announcer and planning committee, I concentrated on not throwing up. I situated myself next to DunkinDonut McDew and tried to motivate myself. Greg ran 26 miles. You can run 3. You might even beat this guy next to you. Don’t stop running. Finally, the gun went off, and I had to either get going or get run over. So off I went.
My legs felt good, and mile 1 breezed by. I chugged along, happy with my pace, and happy that I was not the last one running. Actually, I was pretty far from it. My iPod kept me distracted, and I concentrated on the “thump-thump” sound my sneakers made on the pavement instead of the “thump-thump” of my heartbeat. I cruised past the mile 2 marker (I use the term “cruise” very liberally) and realized, “This is more than half over. I can DO this!” Eat my dust, McDew.
I ignored my sore legs and plugged along to the 3rd mile marker. I silently cursed the warmer-than-normal October weather (Al Roker, you lie. It was hot today.) and tried to think motivational thoughts. Because I am terrible at this (also why I am terrible at yoga), I settled for “I bet Greg will buy me Starbucks when I’m done” and kept moving. Once I spied the brightly-colored balloons marking the end of the race, I picked up the pace, smiled for the photographer, and cruised my little butt right over the finish line.
And then….that was it. I finished the race in just over 3o minutes, which was exactly what I was aiming for. I finished it in one piece, and I felt good. More importantly…I was not last.
I don’t dream about first place finishes and PR’s, but I’m starting to hate running less than I used to. I’m not very good yet, but for me, that’s fine. I’ll get better. Tonight, I’m going to relax, maybe eat some ice cream, and give myself a little pat on the back.
Actually, forget that. I’d like to give myself an additional kick in the ass, so I signed up for another 5k in 3 weeks. If you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to the anxiety and the swearing.