This weekend was my very first 5K! And while I did manage to finish it, I did not finish it well. But, as with most things in life, you have to block bad; filter good. Let me try to set up the scene for you:
My friend, she of the Perfect Hair, came with me and we decided to make an Event of it and stayed overnight in the Hyatt on the McDonald’s Corp/Hamburger University grounds. (Slightly disappointing that there weren’t complimentary Happy Meals in our room.) It was at this point I made my friend sign a contract (yes, a literal contract entitled “What Happens In Lisle, Stays in Lisle”) that she would not divulge to her faster marathon friends anything about: my time, my complaints, my neediness. She signed it. She better keep her word.
The next morning, we woke bright and early, and seeing as how I tend to be more the “let’s get up at the crack of noon” type of person, being up early enough to take this photo was pretty amazing:
We got to the race in time to check in and get a good parking spot. Then we waited around for an hour. People were lined up, coming in right up until the time of the race. I was feeling okay. Nervous, but okay. It was when the Announcer Lady said “You are helping make the world a more beautiful place” and “Welcome to one of the more challenging courses in the Chicago area”, that I officially started to Freak Out.
And off we went. The good thing is, I finished. The bad thing is, about half a mile into the race I panicked and heard all the people running around me and up behind me and the incline just kept going and going (and you know how I feel about inclines) and I wanted to crawl off on the side of the path, curl up in a ball and cry for my SuperBoy to come save me. What in the world was I thinking? I can’t run! I can’t do this! A punk dad runs past at this point, pushing his two year old in a stroller and talking loudly. I panic even more. I tell PH (Perfect Hair), Um, I need to walk and oh, by the way, I don’t want to do this anymore.
Now, in my defense, I am not a panicky person and I am usually not a quitter. But suddenly all my nerves made my throat close up and I kept thinking, “You want to quit a 5K? This is nothing! You loser.” When your goal is to have that sappy guy do a sad biography about you on NBC during the Olympics with weepy music playing in the background, it’s disappointing to falter in your very first race ever. (But, now that I think about it, I suppose that fact itself will add to the pathos in my bio)
The course, as promised in the promos, was a “rolling course,” and apparently in the running world, rolling course means rolling HILLS. Yikes. PH says they were “valid hills” and allowed me to use them as an excuse for my troubles. Very kind of her.
So this internal monologue went on the whole time, with me alternately making jokes about myself and complaining about myself… to myself. PH Factor was a good cheerleader and was encouraging and made me keep going. And after a while, it wasn’t so bad and I knew I wouldn’t quit.
Toward the end, I noticed this little Punky 10 year old girl who was doing so well and her dad was cheering her on and it was adorable, but it wasn’t quite so adorable that a Punky 10yo would beat me, so I ran as fast as I could to the end, finishing in 38:46 – which is not good, my friends, and I can’t believe I just said it out loud.
So, now I’m a couple days distanced from it and each time I tell somebody about it, I just laugh. Because it was humorous. There is one side of my brain that is embarrassed and not proud of myself. Then there’s this other side that says, Three frogs were sitting on a log. Two decided to jump off. How many frogs were left?
Three. The two only decided to jump off, they didn’t actually do it. For me, just getting out there and doing something public and something timed and rated was a big step in the right direction. Did I make the world a more beautiful place? Um, no, me and exercise? Not beautiful. But at least I jumped off the log.