Sunday, October 03, 2010

Night Race!

Last night, I participated in my first-ever night race.  A friend of mine is involved in a community organization that held a 5K race that began at 9:00 pm.  I did the race, and while I didn't win any prizes or anything this time, I felt like it was a huge success for me.

I talked Jeff and Vinny into doing it too.  Vinny was lured into it by the promise of a flashlight.  Jeff graciously agreed to supervise Vinny and participate in the race instead of just cheering me on at the sidelines.

All my other races have been in the morning, so I would just wake up, eat something like a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast at least an hour before the race, and then go race.  I wasn't quite sure what to do for an evening race, because I could have really worn myself out during the day and been too tired to do the race in the evening.  I tried to just take it easy for most of the day, and then I ate an omelet for dinner at about 6:00, and then did not eat anything else for the rest of the evening.  This worked out well, and I was just at the right stomach fullness to be able to race.  Eating any later I would have still been sloshing at 9:00.

We got to the race at about 8:00, because Jeff and Vinny were participating in the 5K walk, which started at 8:30.  They started off on their walk and I stretched and talked to some friends while I waited for the run to start.  The race started at an old Revolutionary War-era fort, and they used a canon as the starting gun for the race.

I knew that I would be the slowest runner in the race, so I started at the very back of the pack.  I ran really slowly and in fact enjoyed a personal police escort right behind me during most of the race.  There were some people who faded and I passed, but I was definitely one of the final people across the finish line.

That being said, I was really proud of myself because I ran for 90% of the race.  I just started running and kept running at my extremely slow pace.  The only times I walked was when I got the water (because I didn't want to choke on it like I did in the last race I was in), and again for about 30 seconds up a hill, but after I got my breath back I started running again.

During this race, I realized that for me, breathing is the trick to running: as long as my breathing was not out of control, I could run.  When I had to coordinate breathing and drinking, I couldn't run.  And when I was going up that hill, I got out of breath and had to slow down until my breathing could get under control.

I counted my breaths as I ran.  This helped me to focus, and I was able to talk myself into running further by saying "Okay, I'm gonna run until I get to 600" and then "Okay, you're at 600, let's make it to 650," etc.  As I was nearing the halfway mark, I saw Vinny and Jeff on their walk, and Vinny waved and shouted "Go, Mama!" which was also an inspiration to keep running.  Also I would tell myself that I wouldn't want my police escort to be disappointed by me slowing down and walking.

When I saw I was near the finish line, I tried to run a little faster, and as I neared the finish I looked for Jeff and Vinny, hoping they were there to cheer me on.  As it turned out, they were not yet there; we all finished our races at about the same time.

Like I said, I did not win any awards or prizes, my mile pace was just over 13 minutes, and in fact my total time was longer than it was in the previous race I was in, but I am just so proud that I ran almost the entire race.

I was also really proud of Vinny for completing the 5K walk (with some help from Daddy).  We have a stash of gold metals and when we got home, we gave him one.  I think this really encouraged him to do more races.  And in fact, I saw that there is another race on the same route in November -- the flyer was in the packet they gave us -- and it says they are giving prizes to walkers.  So I think maybe he and I will walk that one and if we are lucky they will give him a prize (and if not, I will take along another gold medal and ask them to present it to him).

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