Yesterday I accomplished my first goal for 2008 – to run a 5K. With the help of the CoolRunning couch-to-5K training program, I finished my first ever race in just under 35 minutes. The race was a fund-raiser for the National Foundation for Autism research, and it was pretty exciting to be part of such a big event.
I’d been nervous about the race for two days – as soon as I finished my last training run on Thursday morning, I began to feel anxious about the race and worried about silly things like getting lost on the course or not being officially timed or being the very last one to finish. From the previous year’s results, I was expecting a hundred or two runners in the race, but I think it must have been closer to a thousand. I was nervous right up until the start, but then we were off! and I was carried away by the crowd. I got off to a quick start since I tend to try to match the pace of people around me and almost everyone runs faster than I do, but I tried to stay focused on a running at my own pace and on enjoying the experience of running with a crowd and looping through Balboa Park. I hit the one-mile split at just under 11 minutes, a full minute better than my training pace, and midway through the second mile I started noticing that I was passing people who had preciously blown by me at a brisk run but were now walking to catch their breath. I hit the second mile split at just over 22 minutes, but then lost a little time in the final stretch – a combination of tiring out from my quick pace and a vicious uphill finish to the race. Or, maybe I just got a little distracted – Team Twinkie was running just ahead of me, and while they were spreading the snack-cake love, a passer-by was apparently hit by a flying twinkie. The resulting altercation – much shouting, some death threats issued toward the twinkie-tosser – certainly made for a bizzare ending to an otherwise idyllic run through the park. By the time I hit the finish line though, all was forgotten – I beat my best training time by almost two minutes, so it was a victorious ending to the morning for me!