Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dandelion

When I had a garden, I understood wanting to weed any Dandelion from it, but I've never understood why so few people appreciate the sight of a field or yard filled with these yellow pom-poms of flowers. (And they're free!) Unlike my dad, I will not spend any spring hours waging war on these blooms. And while they don't last long once picked, they briefly brighten a window sill like nothing else. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

First 5K Race Completed

I ran my first 5K yesterday. Only 3.1 miles, it was still the hardest physical thing I've ever done, and I'm so very proud of myself. I felt like an athlete yesterday for the first time. My only real goal going into the race was to run more of it than I walked, and I definitely did that: I ran more yesterday than I ever had before, and I ran longer before taking walking breaks than I usually do, as well. My hope for the race, based just on some vague sense of what was considered good time/pace-wise, was to finish in 40 minutes or under, and I just barely accomplished it: I finished in 39 minutes and 59 seconds.  :)  I hadn't realized that I'd actually achieved that when I crossed the finish-line, though, because the clock at the finish-line read 42 minutes or something like that when I ran across it, so I was a bit disappointed until last night when I looked up the results online and read my official chip-time. I had completely forgotten that the clock-time would be different from the chip-time since I'd had to follow the crowd awhile before even getting to the starting line after the gun (bell? whistle? starting sound, in any case) went off. So, as it turns out, I met my goal, after all! As soon as I saw that, I felt better and more encouraged about my performance, and soon after, I decided to run my next 5K in August. I've already put in a request to have that day off from work for it.

The race course had more hills than I'd expected--we were going uphill almost immediately after we crossed the starting line, it seemed--and I'd never before run on hills at all, so that made it extra challenging, but I'm sure I picked up speed going downhill each time, and I still felt pretty good overall. I got side stitches twice but massaged them out while I walked, and everything else felt fine. I gratefully grabbed two cups of water (and got a pleasant "You're welcome, Ma'am!" in response to my winded "Thank you!" at one stop) but didn't need more than that. I felt full enough on what I'd eaten (1 and 1/2 bananas, peanut butter on a slice of multi-grain bread, some soy milk, and my usual multi-vitamin), I felt rested, I felt strong. My feet/shoes felt good. I actually didn't even think about my shoes. The distance was perfect for me in terms of what I can handle running-wise at this point. When I saw the mile-marker for 2 miles or 2.1 miles or .2 miles or whatever it was, I just thought, "Yeah, the home stretch. I can totally do this for another mile. I'll be fine." Whenever I saw another slope coming, I'd mumble I-don't-even-remember-what under my breath--some curse-whine combination, and it was the same every time, but I don't remember now what I kept saying. (I'll probably be saying it before every hill in August, as well.) But it was do-able and felt really good. Perfect weather too: low 50s and not too windy, no rain, not humid, the sun wasn't blinding--just a really great day for a run.
 
The actual race started with a laugh for me, as when the gun sounded, we all tried to take off running but got only a few steps before the size of the crowd around us forced us all to stop and wait for it to thin out some. After those enthusiastic first few steps came to an abrupt halt, though, a young guy in the crowd yelled, "Okay! Great job, everybody!" and we all laughed. It was a funny way to start the race and the experience.
 
Another runner, who maybe didn't mean to come off the way she did, said something I found hurtful at the beginning of the race, though. In the first ten minutes or so before we could all spread out, a bunch of us had already had to stop to walk--I had never run up any kind of slope before, so almost right off the bat, I was winded and one of the walkers again--and this woman said in a rather nasty tone, "Why are all these people walking? Hello?! This is supposed to be a run!" She said it loudly enough for most everyone around her to hear, so I suppose she intended for us to hear her--and then do what? collapse under a tree off to the side of the street in shame so as to let her race by? It was rude and hurtful, as it was a 5K walk/run, for one thing, and because there were a number of us who were doing the best we could--and the best we ever had!--by running even as much (or as little, as I guess she saw it) as we were. In retrospect, I wish I'd said something to her. To hear her comment right at the start like that was discouraging and made me feel more self-conscious about how well I was (or was not) going to do. This was a 5K for charity, anyway, and a bunch of little kids and some parents running/walking with strollers were out there too, so it's not as though with our walking some of it we got in this woman's way and ruined her shot at Olympic glory or something. Ah well. It was the only downer moment of the day.

Near the end, around the 2.8 mile-marker, spectators along the sides of the street started calling out, "You're almost there! The finish-line is right around the corner!" and I thought, "Easy for you to say!" and I had to stop to walk again, but then I saw a man with a camera kneeling ahead of me, and I started running again, because no WAY was I going to have done all THIS only to have my picture taken while WALKING! It's funny what motivates us. So, even though I'd just stopped running to take a walk-break, I started running again, and I ran the rest of it right through the finish-line.
I was almost crying as I finished.  It was one of the greatest moments of my life. Two years ago when I weighed 55 more pounds than I do today, this run would have been impossible. I probably couldn't have even walked it with any ease. So, I was just so proud of myself. It was a great, great moment.

After I met up with Mike, we went out to breakfast and walked home together in the sunshine. It was just an all-around beautiful day--one that you want to remember forever.

A great first race experience.  Onward and upward!