Well, as most of you know that have been following me on Facebook, my 3 months of hard work and training finally paid off. On Saturday, May 5th at approximately 6:41 pm, I crossed the finish line of the Mississauga Marathon "Hazel" 5K! I'd love to say that it was easy and that all my efforts thus far paved the way for an easy jaunt to the finish line, but in fact this run was one of the hardest I had completed so far. Definitely tougher than the two "warm-up" 5K's I had run in the week leading up to the race. Here's a rundown of what went through my head from beginning to end:
Pre-Race: A (very crowded) shuttle bus dropped my running buddy and I off at the start line, near Port Credit Arena. Holy cow there are a lot of people here. We were pretty early so we had nearly an hour to kill. Now what do we do? Learning from a previous training run that needed to be aborted for a bathroom break, lining up for the porta potties sounded like an excellent plan. Can't say I don't learn from my mistakes. The race "Emcee" announced that there were around 1300 registered participants in the race. Dear God, please don't let me be last! A quick pre-race stop at the "hydration table", and it was time to find a place in the mass of people, preferably not too close to the front. Would really rather not get trampled. Kid sings the national anthem (cute!) and we count down to the start. Here we go! The race horn sounds and we're off! There are so many people that we kind of do a strange "saunter" to the starting mats (this is weird), but about a minute after the horn we reach the front of the pack and the race officially begins for us!
Kilometre 1: It's kind of disconcerting for the first 100 metres or so, with all of the faster runners dodging around you in the crowd. Not sure I like this. I lose my much faster running buddy around this point, so I try to settle down into what feels like a normal pace for me. Slow. The first kilometre is still pretty crowded, so establishing any sort of a steady pace is pretty difficult (at least for a rookie), but eventually I think I find it. Holy crap a lot of people are passing me. The first kilometre passes in a blink (OMG, the 1K sign! ), and I begin to think the race is going to be a piece of cake. I am super runner! Hear me roar!
Kilometre 2: Another lady that I know that started way behind me, zips past me in a blur. You go girl! But I notice that I am passing my share of people too. So what if most of them are walking? I see a woman a the side of the road holding out a bowl of orange wedges, (Mmmmm, I could go for an orange wedge right now), but I suspect that might be a little distracting so I keep going. For some reason this kilometre seems much longer than the first. Surely the finish line must be just around the corner? I start to reflect on how far I've come since I began this journey, and get a little misty eyed in the process. You softie! You call yourself a runner???!!! It seems to be ages before I see the 2K sign and the aid/hydration station. Yay, Water!
Kilometre 3: I grab a paper cup from one of the volunteers, but because I don't want to slow down to drink it, I end up spilling it down the front of my shirt. This really adds to my gracefulness! I notice that most people just crumple their cup and toss it on the ground, but I can't bring myself to do it so I keep my eyes out for the trash can ahead. "And the Green Citizen of the Year Award goes to......" At about the 2.5k mark, I somehow manage to swallow a bug (protein!!), and I really wish I still had that cup of water with me. Around this point, we encounter our first "mini-incline" in the form of a curved bridge. Why does this feel so much harder than it did last week? One runner in particular is driving me nuts by zooming past me on one side, and then stopping dead in front of me, only to zoom past me again once I pass her. If we were driving, I would so give her the finger! Finally, up ahead, I see the 3K sign. Hallelujah!
Kilometre 4: I can feel myself slowing down considerably at this point. Is this race not over YET? The race organizers cleverly tease us early on in this phase by showing you the finish line, but then diverting you in another direction to do a loop around a park trail. Damn you, race organizers! This was, by far, the longest leg of the race. For a portion of the trail you are passing faster runners going in the opposite direction, and I keep my eyes peeled for my long lost running buddy. You lucky buggers are almost done! After what seems like forever....the 4K sign! Wait, do I hear angels singing??
Final Kilometre: I can see the finish line up ahead, but it seems like a really long way away. You've got this, you're almost there. I notice my inner voice has gotten considerably nicer in the final K. I think I prefer this side of you, inner voice! As I run along a section of the waterfront trail (this is really pretty), I hear music and cheering up ahead. Almost party time!! Around this point my headphone cords are driving me absolutely crazy, so I take them off and hang them around my neck. Goodbye, P!nk! And yes, I am a Rock Star. What's that I see up ahead??? Please tell me it's not a hill. That's right. A HILL! Damn you race organizers!! I wonder what happened to my nicer inner voice? I'm sorry, you've got this. Kick that hill's A$$!! A cheery person at the bottom of the hill says the finish line is only 100m away. Hill, you're going DOWN!!! I make it up the hill, around a bend and see the finish line ahead. A strange voice announces my name, (Hey, how does he know it's me? I MUST be rock star), and I realize it's because I've crossed a pre-finish timing mat. I look up at this point and see the kids and Marc cheering me on. I must not cry. I must not cry. A few more steps and....YAHOOOOOOO!!!!
I DID IT! I'm in a daze and slightly weepy. A person comes up to me and gives me a hug. I really hope this is Aynsley. I realize it IS my long lost running buddy (whew!) who waited for me at the finish line before going around to meet her family even though she finished about 6 minutes before I did. Awwww, that was nice. More tears. Man, we're going to have to toughen you up before the next race! She shows me where to go to claim my medal (YESS!!) and I notice that it matches my shirt perfectly. My inner fashionista is pleased. Nicely done! We make our way through the crowd and find our kids waiting with their "GO MOM" signs. Geez, Im crying again. I have to say, this feels pretty darn good!! Yay, Me!
All in all, I'm pretty pleased with how my first race went down. My official "Chip Time" was 41:51, which was about a minute slower than I had been running, but I'm still pretty proud of myself. My goal was to run the entire 5K without stopping and, while I may not have been the fastest, I did it. And I wasn't last. I wasn't going to write this final blog since, by now, everyone already knows that I completed the race, but I decided that my adventure needed a proper wrap-up. This morning I received an email from the official race photographers with my race photos, and I thought that it would be nice to compile these blogs, along with my own photos and some of the professional ones, into a scrapbook of my journey. I figure it will be a nice reminder of my strength on days when I'm not feeling so strong!
So, once again, thank you to all who supported me. It has meant a great deal and I couldn't have gotten here without you!
I promise not to bore you with my running saga any more!