I ran my first 5K race this weekend.  I had exhausted all the reasons not to officially embark upon a few trial runs before the Philly Women’s Triathlon coming up in July.  This race was so local I could almost walk there; the day was beautiful; and you could register up until 10 seconds before the gun sounded.  But the truth was, I was ready for this, or so I thought.

Dave who is a distance run veteran at this point was good enough to sit this one out to serve as my cheerleader and overseer of the brothers along the race path.  He had plenty of good advice for me: 

Just remember to take it slow. 

You’re only racing against yourself. 

Don’t get sucked into starting off too fast.

Pace yourself.

Never worry about the other runners.

All you have to do is finish this first time.

I nodded my head, agreed with everything he said, and proceeded to listen to none of it.  As we lined up at the start, I took stock of my competition and decided that I HAD to finish ahead of the grey haired old lady with two knee braces, the fat woman running with a small child, and the guy whose beer gut deserved its own zip code.  I would beat the circus side show.  I would.

Bang!  We were off.

I started in the middle of the pack and my Nike Plus told me that I was running at a much faster rate than I usually do.  So why was everyone passing me?  Because, I realized then and there, I am slow.  Quick tempered?  Yes.  Quick witted?  Sometimes.  Quick footed?  Not so much.  But I pressed on.

For the first mile, the Geriatric Wonder and Madonna and Child were in front of me which pissed me off but I didn’t pick up the pace until the water station when I couldn’t stand it anymore and passed them.  That left Beer Gut who stayed with me through mile 2.  I could hear him sloshing next to me, right over my left shoulder.  So I turned up my music and stepped it up until I lost him.

Having a husband who regularly runs 10 or more miles makes it difficult for me to think that a 5K is anything to brag about.  Veteran runners like my boss and his wife have described 5K races as “fun”.  While I wouldn’t exactly describe it as “fun” (Margarita’s are fun.), I did enjoy doing it.  But there were moments during the race when I wished it was over and the thought of doing the exact same thing in July after I swim a half mile and bike 15 suddenly became more daunting. 

I finished the race strong with a personal best for my average pace.  Dave and the boys were waiting at the finish.

“You finished 46th Mom!”  Chase announced.  He had counted every other runner that preceded me across the finish line.  I have no doubt his count was accurate.  I caught my breath, looked around and saw Beer Gut already drinking his water.  Is it possible he flew by me so fast in the last mile that I didn’t see him?  I’m thinking he cut across a few backyards but at that point it didn’t matter.  The Town Fair was starting, the sun was shining, and I smelled cotton candy. 

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