Not quite four months ago, I set a goal to do a triathlon. Last I checked, running is a pretty integral part of triathlons. So, I started. I bought brand new running shoes and started the C25K program. A couple weeks in, I was derailed with a nasty knee injury. I stopped. Then, I started again.
This time, I carried on through. An occasional tweak, or discomfort, but I made it through without anything stopping me. In fact, that entire time, the only runs I "skipped" were the ones that I would have done if I hadn't been backpacking up a mountain.
Yesterday was the pivotal moment, the day I put it to a test.
I was up early. I had my power breakfast of steel cut oats, peanut butter and a banana. Then I proceeded to be a fairly useless pile of nerves while my capable husband got the kids fed and dressed as well as getting together everything we needed to take along. We dropped the kids off at my (fabulous) Aunt and Uncle's place, then my husband and I got back into the car and did the 45 minute drive into the mountains and the town of Canmore.
Being in the mountains centres me. It calms me down and I feel at peace. As we drove through the rockies, some of the race day nerves started to slip away.
It was a chilly morning. I knew it would be good for the run, but before I hand, I was bundled up.
We were there early enough to see the 10K runners off. I've never seen the start of a race, so I was excited to watch it. The organizer thanked the volunteers, sponsors, etc, and then blew the airhorn and off they went. The people in front were off like a shot. The rest kind of shuffled forward until they got to the start line and most started running.
15 minutes later was when the 5K started. It seemed like no time and the organizer was calling for us to line up. I was nervous about taking my layers off so early, but my husband assured me that I'd be warm enough in the crowd. I took his word for it and took off my fleece, windshirt, scarf and hat. I had to shuffle around a bit, but I wasn't too cool.
Before long it was our turn. I was about halfway down the starting chute, so I didn't get to run at first. The people in front of me started running right before crossing the timing mat, so I was able to as well.
It took me a couple minutes to get into the run. My current running pants only stay up well once I start sweating, so I had to keep pulling them up at first. It's incredibly motivating to run in a race though. There's a total energy surrounding you. At first I was going kind of slow, but I realized I could pick it up a bit and I did.
The first little part of the race was along the roads, and the first km seemed to take a long time. When I reached it though, I gave myself a self assessment and decided that I was doing fine. I could keep going easily. Shortly after that we left the streets and ran alongside the river.
One thing that was wonderful about this race is the fact that we were surrounded by the mountains. Whichever direction we ran, we still got a great view. I don't think I fully appreciated it coupled with the disbelief that I was actually doing this, but regardless, I'm so happy I chose this as my first race.
The 2 km marker seemed to appear quickly and out of nowhere. We crossed a bridge, and I took a moment (while running) to look at the view. I wish I had pictures of it, but I didn't want to carry a camera while running.
There were people all along the race course. Some of them cheered or clapped as we passed. Some of them smiled and gave thumbs up. It was incredibly motivating feeling all the support.
I realized that I was passing people continuously. Occasionally I got passed. I played leapfrog with one woman. She was using a run/walk technique and passed me whenever she ran, but then I kept passing her when she walked. We crossed over a suspension bridge during the 3rd km that made my stomach churn. It's probably fine when there's less people on it, but I could feel it moving under me. Thank goodness it wasn't too long.
When we passed the 4km marker, people around me started gunning it. I didn't though. I knew I was going at a sustainable pace and I wanted to finish strong. I didn't have it in me to sprint the entire final km. Maybe one day I will; or maybe one day I will just go faster the whole time.
When we turned away from the river again, we were back on the road and the finish line was in sight, probably half a km away. I picked up my pace a bit. It was a bit tougher, but I knew I could keep running the final stretch at that pace. As I approached the finish line, I saw my husband waiting for me. He wasn't my focus though. The finish line is. I pushed my legs the final distance and threw my arms up in the air as I crossed.
I had done it. I finished my first race. Me. The non-runner.
Not anymore. Now I am a runner. And proud of it.Next spring, I'll be adding "triathlete" to that title.