In February of this year I signed up for two races. One of them was my first 10k race. It was the Dam to Downtown in Iowa City, IA, on April 28, giving me about 2-1/2 months to train. In an effort to stay in shape and try to avoid gaining weight during the wintertime I had been running and walking frequently on the treadmill. I think I got up to about 2-1/4 miles by the time the weather warmed up enough for outdoors running in March.
It was so good to be able to run farther and farther every 10 days or so, and about 8 days before the race I was able to run 4.8 miles (a 10k race is 6.2 miles).
The night before the race was very stormy and rainy. I was so nervous and excited about the race, and scared that it would be raining that I woke up pretty much every hour of the night to check on the weather outside. The race started at 8:00am, but the shuttles that were taking the runners to the starting line were running from 6:30 to 7:15. I wanted to make the first shuttle so I got up at 5:00am (after a night of fitful sleep) and made it in time for the first shuttle.
I took this photo on the shuttle on the way up to the starting line. It was quite cold, windy, and cloudy. The shuttle got to the starting line at 7:00 am, leaving the early bird runners to wait for an hour in the cold. This is one case where being early was not a good idea.
Finally, it was time to lineup and start the race. I knew the course would have hills, but I wasn't expecting the first and most severe hill to hit as early as it did - in the first 1-1/2 miles of running. My goal with every race I've run has been to never stop running. I came extremely close to walking on that first hill. It took just about every bit of determination to not.stop.running. The second hill was somewhere around mile 3-1/2. It was very long, but had a pretty gradually climbing grade. The third and last hill was at some point during mile 5. I had run this hill during my training runs, and it was quite easy compared to the previous hills.
That last mile was so hard. I had to keep telling myself I could do this, God made my legs and my body to be able to run, to be able to do hard runs, to not give up. Finally, I saw the finish line, and the desire to be finished and excitement that I had finished kicked in, and I was able to sprint the last 100 ft. or so to the finish.
I got home and had breakfast.
Because that's the other not-too-smart thing I did: I ran on an empty stomach. That breakfast was delicious. I then took a nap for about 2 hours.
I learned a lot from my first 10k. One, I have more determination than I thought I did. Races are a wonderful way to push yourself to run farther. Getting proper sleep and nutrition before a race is very important. The feeling of finishing a race, especially a longer one, is wonderful. And even though while I was running this race I wondered if I was absolutely out of my mind to think I ever wanted to run a half-marathon, I signed up for my second 10k right after my 2 hour nap. I think running is becoming a habit. And I'm so glad it is.