27 September 2008
The seasons are changing, so it was dark when I dressed for the race. I was looking forward to running in cooler temperatures for sure, but I did make sure to take a hoodie with me just in case. I ate my pre-short race breakfast of one-half Power Bar (yuck) and drank 8 oz. of sports drink on the way to the starting line.
This was my first Race for the Cure, so I was unprepared for the festive atmosphere. I could hear music and someone talking over a loudspeaker as I parked two blocks away. I got there about half an hour before the start time, and I was going to hang out in my car for awhile, but my curiosity got the better of me. I pinned on my race number and walked over to the Amarillo National Bank parking lot. They already had all the booths for the expo set up. There was a huge balloon arch at the start/finish line. A band was warming up and there were speakers everywhere with music already playing. It was pretty cool.
I found a friend (Karen) and we warmed up together and chatted a bit, then they had us line up 15 minutes before start time. I stretched and tried to stay warm until the race started. I recognized a couple of people from previous races, but most of my fellow runners were new faces to me. I overheard someone say there were about 650 runners. A lot of the smaller towns had teams come in and run—mostly high schoolers. All the cancer survivors were in pink baseball caps, so I tried to look at all of them in case I knew one. I didn’t.
Finally the gun went off and we were running. The race route was awesome, partly because it was flat and straight and partly because it goes through my neighborhood. We ran part of my regular training route and that’s an awesome to have happen during a race! Another thing that was cool is that there were spectators almost the whole way. A lot of people had decorated their yards with pink balloons and streamers and they were outside cheering. Cheering is also awesome to have during a race—it kind of takes your mind off what you’re doing.
My goal was to run sub-30:00, which meant I had to run each mile in 9:45. I was at that pace at mile one, but I just couldn’t maintain it. I knew at the halfway point/water station that I had fallen back already. I ended up taking that second mile kind of easy and then pushing the last mile. The route was so straight and flat that the finish line was visible almost the entire last mile. It’s kind of weird to be able to see a finish line so long, because seeing the finish line is the subconscious cue to push yourself. Which I did.
To keep myself going strong, first I thanked God for giving me legs to run with, lungs to breathe with and a mind to push myself with. Then I moved on to all the bible verses I could think of that had anything to do with running. For example, 2 Timothy 4:7: I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith! Also, 1Corinthians 9:24: Only one receives the prize…so run to win. (That was my own shortened version.) There were some others and I also said over and over “I’ll run ‘til I finish the race,” which is part of a Hillsong United song. Oh, and also the verse in Matthew about “the road that leads to life is narrow” when I thought about the finish chute. LOL
I managed to finish in 31:05, which equals 10:01 a mile. Even though I didn’t make my sub-30:00 goal, I was very happy. I was happy because I maintained a fast pace—the fastest I’ve been over that long a distance. I was happy because I shaved four minutes off my previous 5K time, which was 35:09.
Afterward, I stuck around to cheer other people across the finish line and gather a few freebies from the expo. Then I went to a friend’s house further down the route and cheered the walkers who passed by before going home. Now…time for a nap.