[i apologize in advance for lack of pictures. my camera cord is buried somewhere in the nuclear reactor that is my house, and i am hoping to find it tonight!]
weeks ago, while still very much in the midst of training for the cherryblossom ten mile run, i had already written this post in my mind. it said that though i was happy and proud of myself that i had finished (running around 13 minute miles), i would never again run a long race. the hours spent training, the guilt associated with not training, the pain, the fake dedication… it’s just not for me.
i’m happy to report that after finishing my first race ever, a ten miler, in 1:50:42 (11:05 minute miles!), that the above declaration is just not true. no, i did not train. no, i did not eat in a manner that faciliated my body in its quest to run. no, i did not look forward to the race at all. at 6:30 am sunday morning, though, that all changed.
but, let’s back up.
on saturday, i dragged myself to the race expo to pick up my packet – it was chock full of runners, some who looked like they should be in the next olympics, others who shocked me that they were running the ten mile. there were a million stands of discounted gear, and i ended up snagging new asics socks, a nike sportsbra, a nike running hat (that saved my life) and a vanilla bean gu packet for about $40. crazy!
my mom arrived, and after unloading the goodies she brought me (my bike! my paints! homeade gravlax!) we headed to dumbarton oaks, perhaps the most breathtaking gardens i’ve ever seen (a close second to the bahai gardens in haifa, israel). after walking around and lounging in the grass, we headed to dinner at two amy’s with my cousins (my family is huge, and three of us live in dc), perhaps the best pizza i’ve ever had – and i’m from new york! i filled my body to the brim with margherita pizza with mushrooms, a cold rapini salad and cauliflower with anchovies and chili flake and headed back to prepare myself.
my mom and i had really no idea what to expect – we didn’t know how she would spectate, how many people would be there, essentially all the logistics of a race. i made my playlist of about 40 songs, even though i essentially listened to the same 5 on repeat the entire run:
i woke up at 5, popped up out of bed actually and crept downstairs for a prerace breakfast of a banana peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat toast with a huge mug of coffee. i got dressed and was out the door by six! the metro opened early today for the run, so the only people on the metro were those participating in the race. i felt like one of the cool kids. once we arrived at the site, at the base of the washington monument, i started to get nervous. how would i do this? i didn’t train, who was i kidding? i’m no athlete.
after finding my friends and checking our stuff, we lined up to use the portapotties one final time. the lines were out of control – thousands of people anxiously waiting as wave after wave were sent on their way. once finished, my friend amy and i jogged to the starting line and we were on our way! she went ahead of my immediately, as she was aiming for an 8:30 mile. me? not so much. i was happy as a clam the first two miles – because of the crowds, 15,000 runners!, it was slow, but i was into it and was finding my pace. the route was inspiring – took us along the jefferson memorial, over bridges, water, monuments… it was breathtaking. i was fine until mile 5, and dare i say it, really enjoying myself! it seemed like a walk in the park. the one thing i did notice, however, is how long the miles seemed. perhaps i’m used to running without mile markers or on a treadmill, but the miles stretched on. around mile 5.5, i started to tire. i was nervous, thinking crap! i have another 4.5 to go! but remembered that i had a gu packed hidden in my bra. i sucked it down, delicious, first of all, and immediately felt better. perhaps it was mental, but i now understand the true importance of shotblocks/gu/sports beans/whatever.
mile 5 lasted forever, and i am not kidding. i started to get nervous, because i was getting tired and mile 6 was nowhere in sight. finally, i spied a mile marker – mile 7, thank the lord! at that point, i knew the finish line was in reach, but i was starting to hurt. i walked for the first time around mile 7, and was impressed i had lasted that long. i also took advantage of the gatorade at the water stations, mixing it into water for a little pick me up. though i was walking, i was determined to let it be a little, not long, break, and i always started up again after 1 or 2 minutes. every step i took past 7 miles was a personal distance record, and that was a huge motivating factor. once i hit mile 8, i let out a loud whoop and knew the end was in sight. when mile 9 came, i vowed to not walk, the end was too near! there were so many volunteers and spectators cheering us on, and though it lifted my spirits tremendously, i had to walk. i was in pain, my muscles were frozen and couldn’t move. after a minute, though, i thought the sooner i started running, the sooner it’s over! i sprinted to the end, where i found my mom saying, you blew right past me! i was expecting you to hop off of the van at the end of the race! i guess i had been making my situation sound pretty dire.
i grabbed half a banana and some water, and elated, found my friends. after some shmoozing with friends and parents, my mom, roommate #1 and i headed to brunch. i was sore at this point, but just so happy. i looked like an athlete, i felt like one, and most importantly, proved myself wrong. it’s amazing what the body can do! after brunch, i actually played in my soccer game – it was the playoffs! – hung out with my friends for a little and then headed home to die. i felt my body cramping up, so i took an ice bath (which actually felt so good) and then iced myself and plopped on the couch and didn’t move. so so sore!
this was so long, but the moral of the story is: i am going to keep racing! if i can do this with no training, imagine what i can do if i dedicate time to it! i got over a huge hurdle, and i’m only looking ahead.