On a perfect Spring day, I traveled 10 miles with 30,000 other people down Broad Street in Philadelphia, PA. The whole day was quite overwhelming. I felt a sea of emotions ranging from "am I really here?" to "this is fun" to "oooh this is far" to "we can do it" to "I want this over."
The mantra given to me by Kelly Cooke of "Anyone can run 10 miles" slowly turned into the t-shirt I saw before the beginning of the race: "It seemed like a good idea 3 months ago."
My time was slow by most standards (2:20), but overall the experience was good. It was my first really enormous race and my first race above a 5K. The logistics alone totally overwhelmed me. For starters the race packet said to arrive at the parking lot (at the end of the race) by 6:30 AM for an 8:30 AM start. Um.. that's early.
All along I read if I do not finish in 3 hours, they are going to open up the roads and stop handing out medals. I was pretty certain I could finish within 3 hours. My question thought was did the 3 hour clock start when I crossed the start line (which looked like it would be about 30 minutes after the speedy people) or when the fastest of the fast started. It seemed to be a compromise between the two. At the clock's 3:10 mark I saw the emergency vehicles crossing the finish line -- about 2:40 after the slowest people were allowed to start. I was glad I snuck into an earlier spot so I could finish about 20 minutes before the end point (according to their clock).
(about 2.5 miles)
As for my time, all along I've been considering this a stepping stone on the way to my first half marathon on September 4th at Disneyland. It showed me I have a TON of training left to do, and not just with getting in the miles but also with pacing, eating right the night before, getting enough sleep, and what to do afterwards to recover properly (still feeling out of sorts and today's weather is not helping).
Yesterday I tried to just enjoy it and take pictures and not fret about the time. I posted 48 pictures to my Facebook page. To me yesterday was more about the entire experience than about the number at the finish line. Of course, I would have been thrilled with 2 hours (since I averaged an 11:30 mile in my last 5K) but that was unrealistic since I tend to slow down the longer I run.
Once I realized other people were walking and that there was no shame in it, I took it at a slower pace and had time to enjoy it.
Would I do it again? Yesterday I was thinking NO! The distance is fine, but the logistics are pain the tush. Once finished I had to find Don and Ashley, who were still at the 7.8 mile spot cleaning up from handing out Gatorade (it passed the time, and gave us a place to meet during the race). At that point, I really wished there was someone at the finish line for me. Someone to take a picture of my happy, yet tired face with the medal around my neck. Someone to tell me I did a great job and they were proud of me. By the time I met up with Don and Ashley any euphoria had turned to tired and crankiness and a desire to change into clean, dry clothes.
Today, I'm wondering. I would have to do a lot differently. Maybe stay in Philly the night before, or ideally carpool with someone, or even drive myself into Philly and park (it seems less intimidating now that I've done it once). At the end of the race, though, I was in no state to drive myself back home. Maybe after training another year I would be. Time will tell. There are smaller things I would do differently, too, like use bag check so my clean, dry clothes were waiting for me at the finish line instead of in the car with Don and Ashley.
Also I would want to find a race day running buddy who is in it for fun and not for a PR (Personal Record). I'm really looking forward to "running" with Joanie Morris in September for the Disneyland Half Marathon! The women I saw chatted the whole course and seemed like they were taking a stroll in the park.
Also, it would be nice to get more bling.
Next on the horizon for the running adventures: a 5K in Lawrenceville on Mother's Day. It should be interesting as Ashley and I have not done any running together and my legs might not be in the mood to run by then. I know we can walk it and still have fun seeing our neighbors and friends.
Update: Ashley did a terrific job in the Big Red Race!