Runnin' cousins

Run Chicken Run: My First 10K
| published October 29, 2014 |

By Sarah Herrin
Thursday Review contributor and running blogger

“Something in me wanted to see how far I could run without stopping.” – Jacki Hanson

Preparation for a race begins days before. I’ve read that it’s the night before the night you race that you need the best sleep. No one is expected to sleep well the night before, but adrenaline and race day excitement can pull you through. I lay out my kit, wallet, and fill my water bottle. I’m always excited and a little bit nervous the night before so I dab a little lavender oil on my wrists and temples to help me relax, then prepare to do a short guided meditation or chakra balancing via YouTube.

I signed up for my first 10k without thinking too much about it despite the fact that I hadn’t quite gotten up to six miles. This run was special because it was a 3 race series that tracked your progress over a period of three months, which is great for beginners and veterans alike. No finisher medals would be given, but they do offer a medal for the highest improvement overall. As I’ve learned from my progress from Couch to 5k and onward, my body’s learning style is “fast is slow,” meaning take it slow and steady. I didn’t change my training at all, but continued running every other day and slowly added a half mile onto my mileage each week. A few days before the race, I decided to run six miles just to see if I could do it. I ran the first three easy while talking to my dad on the phone and felt a little triumphant when he hadn’t even realized I was running the whole time. I ran down to the waterfront and was energized by the beautiful weather. There were so many runners of both genders, of all ages, wearing old race t-shirts and various labels, and I couldn’t help but be encouraged. I wondered if they were training for the same race series as me. Once I hit three miles, I knew I just had to head back home and I was able to do it without any walk breaks minus waiting for stop lights, which kind of counts, I think. I was pleased with my timing, too. For a beginner, six miles at about an hour is not too bad at all.

I had run my first 5k without anyone running beside me and this one I would be running without the (physical) support of my partner because he was out of town at his brother’s wedding. Luckily, my cousin Blake was happy to sign up with me. He’s a seasoned runner and usually does six mile runs on his own, but this would be his first race. Race day morning, I couldn’t eat much breakfast – true to form – and met up my cousin who’d happily eaten pizza. I had to admit that I was a little bit jealous of his nerves of steel. Because I hate riding the bus, I opted to pile into the back of a Smart Car—probably not very smart—with Blake and his friend Kat in the front. There was no one on the highway at 8am that Sunday morning, but I was still planning my funeral and writing the headlines: “She died on the way to her first 10k… in the back of a Smart Car.” It was pretty terrifying. Nonetheless, we arrived safely and scoped out the course. It was a wide paved sidewalk snaking along the waterfront. The sun was out and the temperature was perfect; this was going to be a gorgeous run.

The three of us started out together, but Blake and Kat soon passed me as I was determined to keep a steady pace. My Spotify was playing a “Seize the Day” playlist, so I got to enjoy some new songs. It’s interesting the thoughts that pop into your head as you run a race. You listen to music, pay a little attention to your body, and watch the other runners.

I can be a little bit competitive, so I usually pick out one person that I either follow or match pace with and vow to pass them at the end. However, I’m not really that competitive with others, so if I lose them, I don’t really notice – haha. I think that’s why running agrees with me so well because I only have to compete with myself and I’m pretty compassionate as long as I know I’m doing my best. You might not know that many different types of people run a race. Not everyone is in shape and in fact, many overweight people participate and finish. There are young kids running with their parents, zooming along and then walking exhausted later. High-schoolers are famous for having the best times and, as a former grumpy Goth kid, I always wonder what kind of social life they have. Probably a better one than I had if they’re willing to get up at eight a.m. on a Sunday and accomplish more than most people do all week before breakfast. There are other people to watch, too: paddle boarders, boaters, mothers running with strollers, cyclists.

As I reach the 5k line and loop around for the 10k, I know I’m halfway there and I’m still running at a steady pace of about 10 minutes per mile. I still feel good knowing that I’ve already run the distance in practice, but after a while, the race starts to feel a bit long. Maybe because I’m just running the exact stretch of road I’ve already run. This is when I try to focus on other runners and see how I’m doing in comparison, trying to rouse my competitive spirit. When my app tells me I’m at five miles, I allow myself to pick up the pace and start chasing rabbits, just like I did in my second 5k. I finally catch up with this woman and she speeds up—a challenge! But I keep it up for a while and pass her. On to the next rabbit and the next. Finally, I’m nearing the finish line—it seems so far away! I ramp it up again and give it all I’ve got. I can see the digits flashing on the clock. The announcer calls out my name and time as I sprint through the finish. One hour and twenty-three seconds, just slightly over my practice time, but I’m not disappointed. While I wait for my cousin and his friend to catch up, I enjoy my victory chocolate milk. I’ve completed my first 10k! And in three weeks, I get to do it all over again…

Related Thursday Review articles:

Run Chicken Run: My Running Buddies; Sarah Herrin; Thursday Review; October 25, 2014.

Run Chicken Run: My Finisher's Medal; Sarah Herrin: Thursday Review; October 20, 2014.