I can't even remember the first race that I ran. I'm sure it was a 5K, and I was probably pretty nervous about it. But I've learned that with a little heart and soul, we can do anything we want to. And that what might have seemed like a scary or impossible feat really isn't with a little sweat. So that's why I'm excited to host Becca today. She's going to tell you all about running her first 5K in 13 years. And if you check out her blog, you'll notice she's pretty much hooked on racing now.
When I decided to sign up for my first race, I had been casually running for about two and a half years already. I started out on an elliptical and when it got a bit warmer, I decided to head outside for the real deal. It began with walking three miles a day, every morning around 5:30AM (I had to be at work at 7:30). It slowly evolved into running. My thoughts on running were more fears than anything else. I was scared of hurting my knees again (20 years of soccer, an ACL tear and a lot of arthritis at the ripe age of 28) and was afraid of what the running would do to my back, but walking wasn't cutting it and I wanted to move faster.
So I started running. Three miles every morning as the sun came up over the hills of Oklahoma is a much better way to start your day then a cup of coffee. My running turned from a weight loss tool into a comfort tool when I picked up and moved to the Washington, DC metro area. I had a lot of unsettling events happen in my old town and was nervous about returning. My running kept me sane and kept me in good spirits. As those fears were conquered, running turned into a stress reliever.
In August of 2012, a good friend from high school came to stay with my husband and me. She had just accepted a job in Arlington and was moving back from NYC. This friend had been running also, for some time. She is training for the NYC marathon in November. I started running with her every morning. She started getting up at 5:00AM with me and I forced her to hold a steady pace. We worked together and pushed each other's running further and further. With her, I discussed a lot of different running ideas, tactics and strategies.
One morning, I saw a Facebook post from a friend who was organizing a race. In a fit of whimsy, I registered to race an 8K.
Mentally, this was challenging. I have not run a race since Cross Country in high school and I was not very good then. I am competitive and not being good at something bothered me then and still bothers me now. However, I thought long and hard about my decision (after the fact, of course...as most thoughts tend to occur) and I decided that A) it was too late to change my mind, and B) it was time to try again. I am 29. It has been 13 years and it was time. So I went forward thinking that. I discussed with my running buddy my fears on our long runs: What if I suck? What if I fail? What if I don't finish? What if, what if, what if...so many hypotheticals to keep track of. Her response was always "you won't, you can do this"; which to me means, "man up and stop being a wuss." Before I had actually run my 8K, I had already signed up for three other races, one being a triathlon. Apparently, my belief is if I am going to do it, I am going to do it all of the way, no holds barred and also I felt the need to invest in my racing before even starting so that I could not back out.
I got really nervous the day before race day.
But everything was awesome! I ran so well! My friend Sheena ran with me and she kept me at a solid 10:50/mile pace. I completed the five-mile race in under 55 minutes which was my goal and an improvement from my training which was 5 miles in one hour and two minutes on average.
Bottom line? Don't be afraid of the race. If it's something you've been wanting to try, then you should. Race yourself, not anyone else around you, because no matter what—you'll win. You'll always win if you complete something you set out to do.
Question: Were you ever nervous to compete in a race of any kind? Tell me about it, and tell me how you kept yourself in it.