Monday, September 17, 2012

The New Me?

This past weekend, I accomplished something I never even imagined I would try.  I ran in, and completed, my first 10k! I still find it hard to believe that the girl who would dream of various potential accidents to self-inflict (hammer to the knee? tripping down the main staircase?) in middle school to avoid running the timed mile, would ever be crazy enough to sign up, train for and FINISH a 10k.  This past year or so, I've taken up running as a means to combat the impending obesity and diabetes my profession is sure to inflict on my body.  My contempt of this form of exercise has diminished from a a deeply rooted hatred to a middling tolerance even, dare I say, occasional enjoyment? I asked for and received new sneakers for Christmas and even invested in far from cheap exercise clothes to serve as incentive to maintain the little shape my body had obtained.  The last pair of sneakers I owned were purchased in middle school.

So late this spring, when my friend (and roommate) suggested we all sign up for the Color Me Rad 5k race in July, the concept was just fun enough sounding with being far enough in the future to remain abstract that I agreed to participate.  Similar to the Color Run, but on a much smaller scale, that 5k promised packets of vividly colored corn starch that would be hurled at us by onlookers and at one another leaving all participants a rainbow of color.  Every kilometer or so, a new color was provided.  Not surprisingly, July 15th rolled around far too quickly but the fun and casual vibe of the race was just enough to convince me that maybe, these race things people had been talking about for years, weren't such a bad idea.

Perhaps this might have been a false sense of security, but when another friend sent out an email chain proposing participation in the Trails to Ales Portland 10k, the concept didn't sound half bad.  The responses ping-ponged into my inbox while I was at work and before I knew it, I had my credit card out and I had signed up! Instantly, a sense of doom overwhelmed me but I figured a combination of peer pressure and public shame if I didn't participate would be just what I needed in order to mobilize and actually run. The problem with this strategy was that convincing myself to run in the summer heat and humidity as training proved quite difficult and before I knew it, August 15th rolled around and race day was a month away.  While my co-runners all lamented that they too hadn't trained enough, I knew for me, that wasn't an option.  I had to kick my butt into gear.  The days I allowed myself to come home from work, sit down and then try to rally were not an option.  I set my alarm early and went for runs before work.  I wore my running clothes to work and ran home. I by no means ran every day, but I was making a solid effort.  I hoped that would be enough, but I wasn't sure.  My co-runners were a former college soccer player, 2 half-marathon runners and 1 Boston marathon runner. Needless to say, I was the weak link.

Race weekend rolled around and plans were made for our mini road trip to Maine.  I was so excited for every aspect of the weekend except the race itself.  I had told everyone my plans- coworkers, friends, family. There was no backing out.  As I like to say, thundercats were a go! The morning of race day dawned and our sneakers were laced.  I could not have ordered a nicer race day in terms of weather.  The sky was piercingly blue and the air was refreshingly crisp.  The route circled the Portland Harbor, providing ample scenery to distract myself with along the way and ensured a relatively flat course.  I was extremely nervous as we milled around, pinning our race bibs to our shirts and stretching our hamstrings.  We filed to the start line and the gun went off! I had my phone with me so I could listen to music as I ran, but found it more comforting to run alongside my rockstar friend who pushed me to never slow down to a walk.  Together, we finished in under an hour! I clocked in officially at 58:04! I think I'm still coming down from my runner's high.  This is by far my biggest physical achievement in my life.

The race ended with an after party sponsored by Portland Pie Pizza Co, Whole Foods, a massage parlor and most importantly, Shipyard Brewery.  What better inspiration to run than free Pumpkinhead Ale? Not a shabby reward.  They had originally promised us two free beers per runner, but eventually just started handing out the extras.  Between the gorgeous day, the impressive race times and the amazing company, I would without a doubt call my first 10k a success!

We shall see how I feel in the coming weeks but running may remain an active part of my life.  We've even been emailing back and forth today about signing up for Bay to Breakers, a half marathon in San Francisco!

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