I’ve now completed my very first race. You know, one of those official things that you register for, pay money, get timing chips and bibs for.
And there are two very important things I learnt along the way.
1) Training and recovery.
2) Don’t take yourself too seriously.
In typical Jennifer fashion, I didn’t pick a quick little 5k as my first race. It was half marathon all the way. A friend has nicknamed me ‘the Kenyan’ due to my competitive nature and apparently there’s a look that crosses my face at the start of a race. I find it quite funny really. Yes I am competitive – mostly against myself, but sure, wanting to beat that person behind me, or two steps ahead is right up there as well. And my speed, while not at elite level by any means is bordering on fast (by some people).
How did the race go for me? I knew I hadn’t done enough training, we had been really busy and I made excuses not to do it. My fault, and I had to live with it.
I had picked up all my important things and checked out the parking options the day before so when I arrived at 5.30 on race morning I was prepared. That’s something I stress about – being organised about these types of things, getting lost, missing the start…
Up at 3.30 and getting ready I was quite emotional. This was all new and I was scared. Scared of getting lost on the course, scared of coming last, scared of somehow making a fool out of myself. Of course I knew it was all silly but I’m sure anyone who has done this has felt it at least once.
Hubby came with me and was able to watch the start before he went to work. And that was awesome. I was calmer and felt more in control knowing he was there, calming my nerves, and surrounding me with his love. That’s what your support team does. And he is the most amazing support.
The race itself was pretty good. I settled into my regular pace easily and appeared to run with the same group of people. Sometimes ahead, sometimes behind. I took in drinks at each station, following suit and tossing the cup – although I did try to aim towards the bin. My fear of getting lost was one of the silliest things ever to go through my head as there was never a time when no one was around.
Crossing the bridge toward the halfway point was the best feeling – 10K down and my pace and time were sitting nicely.
It all fell apart at the 15k mark when I hit the wall. My head started fucking with me. My legs felt like lead and I just wanted to crawl into a hole. I pushed through – I was Not.. Going.. To walk.
This is where that extra training pays off, on the last legs, that extra kick when you are beginning to flag. When you think you can’t go on, knowing that you’ve done the preparation for it.
At the second last drink station (18K mark) they were handing out jelly beans and chocolate. Oh. My. God! yes please. They were just what I needed. The much desired pick me up. I did start to walk at this point and then realised I actually couldn’t, my legs just would not move, it was easier to shuffle/run than walk. I sorely needed that sugar to kick in soon!
And then the finish line was nearly in sight. A short sharp uphill that really took it out of me. I did walk until I saw the photographer. And then after you come over the crest and flatten out, you are in the finishes chute. And this is where I took it too seriously. I managed to get a sprint up. And finished well. I was super proud of myself. Then I saw the official photos. Ha, the face I was pulling looked like I ready for the toilet. Not the look of someone who is proud of their work, who did enjoy the race, no smiles anywhere.
And yet when I bought my photos that’s the one I decided to get with the certificate. Why? Because I am incredibly proud of what I achieved. How totally knackered I was after my legs carried me for 21.1kms. How strong I was mentally to get through it.
And that second thing I learnt… Post race recovery. I now have some idea of how I will react physically after a long hard workout. I need to have that brilliant thing called chocolate milk, bananas and then be ready for the munchies an hour or two later. I was ravenous once my body calmed down.
I was so tired I had to take a nap, I had a splitting headache, and just couldn’t function for several hours (sorry hubster). It quite simply took everything out of me. Part of recovery will need to include the pre run carb load the night before and making sure I am better hydrated during the race (hello, hydration belt and when required a camelback).
I did no exercise at all for the next week. Stretching most days to keep the limbs mobile (on top of 10hr days at work) before taking the plunge and heading out for a 5k. And I didn’t die. It wasn’t that bad.
Now its training time for my next lot. Hills. Lots of them. I really really don’t like them.
Next time, there will be talk of hill runs and interval training.
Pop over to my Challenges page to see what I’m training for next. I’m already planning a tattoo to commemorate my big year of running and the distances I want to do.