So, after completing my first race, I've had some thoughts on it. First off, I am going to say that I have no regrets with how I ran it. I did what I set out to do and I ran a solid race. Having said that, here are some thoughts I had either while running or shortly after.
I could have pushed myself harder and gone faster.
For my first race, my primary goal was to run the whole thing. In doing so, I did it at a pace that I knew I could run at for the full 5K. If I'm honest, I had plenty left in the tank at the end.
I think I could achieve a faster pace in a couple ways. The first is to take risks. If I had pushed harder, I may have ended up needing a walk break. This is a risk I'm willing to take in any race other then my first one. Taking risks is what we need to do to grow. So, in future races, I don't need to run at a pace that I could sustain indefinitely. I can try to find a pace that I can do for 5K, but not much further.
The second way to push harder is just through further training. Obviously, further training will develop my running more and make it possible for me to do more. The other thing it will do is help me to be more aware of what my limits are and what my body is capable of. I will then be able to push more knowing that my body can do it.
I need to do more races
The energy I felt while doing this was incredible. A race is a time when you really see what you're capable of. I've often been self conscious about running at times where a lot of people see me. While I was racing, I didn't care one bit what my body looked like. I cared about what it could do.
I hadn't planned on doing another race until the spring, but now, I'm trying to figure out where I can fit one into my schedule before then. I also like the feeling of working towards the race. It motivates me when I'm doing my regular runs.
I just have to decide whether to up my distance and do a 10K, or stick with a 5K and try for a better time...
I need to stop saying I can't do things
About a week ago, I was running with a friend (who is a seasoned runner). She mentioned that once you've been running for a while, you can slow down your run and get a break similar to what you used to get from walking. My comment at the time was "yeah, I can't do that yet". I figured that I ran at the slowest pace it was possible to run at. Any slower and I'd be walking.
During the race, I discovered that I can. At one point I started getting a stitch in my side. I was determined to keep running and I realized that I was no longer running at the snail's pace I had done when I first started running. There was indeed a speed (or a few) slower then what I was doing. I slowed down for a minute; the stitch subsided, and I was able to pick up the pace again.
I'm fairly sure I hit that stage of "runner's high"
Once I got past the first km or so, I barely felt my legs moving and I could have been flying. I felt AMAZING. The little voice that often accompanies me on runs and tells me to walk was nowhere to be found. I was invincible, and nothing could stop me.
Realistically, I need to know that I'm not going to have that euphoria every time I race, but wow! It feels good.