I heard somewhere that there are more races run in the USA on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year. After all, what better way to assuage one's guilt for eating a ridiculous amount of calorie-rich food than to run hard before the marathon of eating begins?
Yesterday, I took part in this glorious tradition by running my very first race ever. I was looking for a 5k in November and, when I discovered that one of my running friends was, too, I decided to join her in whatever local race she undertook. So, Stacey and I ended up registering for the 40th Annual Millersville Turkey Trot.
I was feeling some race jitters the night before we ran. Falling asleep wasn't a problem but I woke up around 3 a.m., then again at 5 a.m., and, though I was able to doze off, I had a nightmare. My clothes were too small. I couldn't find the start line. My ID was missing! It was a mess. Fortunately, the actual race went very smoothly.
I arrived at packet pick-up around 8:15. There were a lot more participants than I expected. Last year, there were just over 500 finishers. This year, there were over 900!
When I got into the packet pick-up line, there were only about ten people ahead of me. By the time I got my t-shirt, there were about eighty behind me. Timed that right! Almost as soon as I had my shirt and bib, I turned around and saw Stacey. She helped me find the bathroom and showed me how to put the timing chip on my shoe (a process I somehow made ten times more difficult than it should have been).
We got to the start line in plenty of time but, due to the large number of participants, the race started about fifteen minutes late. While we waited in the crowd, we overheard a guy behind us complaining about how slow people and children mess up races. I started cracking up as he informed his friends that, from now on, he was only going to run "serious" 5K's. I sort of wanted to punch this guy's pretentious face, but I was also a little sad that he couldn't just relax and have some fun. I understand the desire to do your best but, holy crap, don't be a douche about it. (Btw, I abhor the word "douche," as an insult but, if you had heard this guy, you would have realized he was the reason it came into common usage.) Do they publish a list of "serious" 5K's? If so, I want to get one so that I can run slowly with an empty stroller in front of that guy.
Anyway, once we started, it was great. I felt like I was going my normal pace but, at my first split, I was only at a little over ten minutes. For me, that's phenomenal. There were some hills, so I tried to make myself slow down and I even took a couple short walk breaks, but at the two-mile split, I was at an 11-minute/mile pace and still feeling great!
I was amazed by the people I was able to pass or stay with through the entire course. My thoughts were not judgmental just rather amazed at how far I've come in three-and-a-half months. Just goes to show that fitness cannot be judged by looking at a person.
As I drew nearer to the end of the course, I desperately wanted to put on some speed but I just kept my pace until I knew I could pick it up and finish strong instead of pooping out just shy of the finish.
I crossed the finish line at 35:16, beating my goal time by almost a full minute. I was giddy! I grabbed an apple and hunted for Stacey's red shirt among the crowd. We posed for the picture above and then I spotted another friend, holding his daughter, among the spectators, looking for us to finish. He'd missed our triumphant jogs across the line but it was still great to see Stu and Isabelle and hear Isabelle say, "Good job, Kate!" (even if it wasn't until hours later).
Only the first 100 finishers got ribbons but I wore my new race t-shirt (after I took a shower) for the rest of the day and was proud to answer people's inquiries about how it had gone. I'm constantly amazed at and grateful for how interested and supportive people are of this new pursuit.
Now that I've officially "competed," I can understand why runners do this often and why they go for longer and longer distances. It's so cool to take part in an event with so many people doing an activity that can be very solitary. It's interesting and fun to push your limits and realize how much more you can do. But it all went by so quickly - that 35 minutes passed in the blink of an eye - so it makes sense that people, especially people who can finish 5K's in 15-25 minutes, would want a greater challenge, something that lasts longer, after putting in the hours of training required.
The verdict: I'm glad I've already got some other races on the docket. Woot! Can't wait to run with (or behind :) Danielle, Katie, and Rebecca in the coming months!