First Race, or How I Learned to Love the Race

Yesterday was my first road race -- post baby. I ran in Pat's Run, which benefits the Pat Tillman Foundation. If you have no idea who Pat Tillman is, you should. Here's a bio. The race was 4.2 miles, a bit longer than my current runs (about 1.5 times my current runs, to be exact). It was held at Arizona State University, where Pat played college football and where I did my own collegiate studies. Being on my home turf was inspiring.

I had to wake up extra early to get the kidlets ready. Eric's second shifts means he's pretty useless as a baby sitter at five o'clock in the morning. Thankfully, my parents offered to also get up before the sun, to meet me at the race and keep the kids happy while I ran. Connor was surprisingly excited about the race, and especially about visiting ASU. This was a decided change from the day we did the Climb to Conquer Cancer, wherein he did much whining and pouting. Mia was also very good-natured, entertained by the throng of people, the music, and the large colorful blowup balloons. Despite the fact that she didn't nap at all during the entire morning's festivities, she remained content.

I found myself in the 11-minute mile corral, and waited impatiently as the seven corrals in front of my group were released in two-minute intervals. It was tempting to start out with more speed than my usual shuffle, as the people around me seemed to be sprinting. That's a lot of peer pressure right there. I settled into my own pace, although I never quite found my own rhythm. I was troubled by an inability to find a comfortable pace, and I didn't even make it two miles before I took a walk break (counting to sixty in my head before I took it up again). I did a lot more walking than I had planned, but the goals was to finish. I was hoping to keep under twelve-minute-miles, and I did alright for the first two, but the last two kicked my butt, in a not so friendly way.

Several sights along the way kept the run interesting. There was an explorers' group from a local fire department, and they ran in formation, along with a few fireman leaders. I caught that there was a lagger in the group, so every once in a while, the boys would run off into the dirt, face plant on the ground, and do some manly looking push ups. The got a lot of cheers each time. There were several veterans in the group, including several who had obvious injuries. One man had both legs and arms amputated, but he was doing it, and I lost any sort of sorriness I felt for myself as I passed him. I found myself getting annoyed at the walkers who were blocking my path. They had obviously started ahead of me with no intention of running. When I had to take my walking breaks, I made sure to inch over as far as I could so I wasn't blocking anyone. Still, though, near the end, MOST of the participants were walking, and I had to find creative ways to pass them.

Coming around the last corner, seeing the stadium looming ahead was a bit of an uplift. I found it in myself to pick it up a bit. The music was blaring, everyone was cheering us on. Just before I hit the tunnel into the stadium, there was a huge, billboard-sized picture of Pat Tillman with some inspirational words. I fought off the urge to cry, and ramped it up, up into the stadium and through the tunnel onto the field. It was the same tunnel that the players exit onto during each home game. And then I saw them. The entire Sun Devil football team was lined up along the railings leading to the finish line at the 42-yard line. (On a side note, they are HUGE!) I made sure to slap each hand as I ran by and let out a breathless , "You guys totally rock!" before I stepped over the finish line.

I'm not sure of my exact time, but according to my watch, I came in about 56:30. I'll have to look up my official time once it's posted on the race site. That's about 13.5 minute miles, which I am not happy about, but I am not going to let it get to me too much. The point was to do it, and to finish, and I did both. As I walked back out of the stadium, on the other side of the tunnel through which I had just run, I saw the last lagging fire department explorer huffing it in.

I found my parents and the kids, and Connor gave me a huge hug. It felt good. I liked it. I want to do it again. Next week, in fact, when I do this.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Designed by Lena