We all have different reasons for involving others in our personal decisions. Sometimes we seek advice and knowledge; at times, we simply want the support of a trusted friend or family member. Then, there are those weird times we tell others something, just in case…it lands us in jail, the hospital or worse (i.e. blind on-line dates, wild house party, random trip with a bat to your exes house…). Unfortunately for me, as many of my close friends know, I often mention my personal decisions as a means of validation. Sick, right?!? I’ve found myself lamenting decisions to girlfriends, family and trusted pals due to an internal, nagging question: “Is this really okay?” Besides receiving obvious comments of support, I also get the dreaded, “You’re okay with that decision, right?” This usually takes me in an emotional tailspin, second-guessing and questioning the validity of my decision. It’s for that major reason that I decide to make a silent commitment to myself to run my first 5K.
just finish the damn thing!
I had the greatest, most sincere intention possible: to just finish the damn thing! I’d incorporated running into my weekly workout for the past two years, and never thought much of actually pushing myself to accomplishing anything besides just running. Of course, I visited the Runner’s World website and read the tips in weekly newsletters. I ran with my local Black Girls Run group to gain support and rally around health and fitness. I even tried to sign up for a race once, then quickly closed the registration page after thinking, “Are you nuts?!? You can’t run longer than 5 minutes! Girl, sit down!” But, one day, for no particular reason, I wanted to run…and declare myself a legit runner. So, On October 14, 2014, I registered for my first race. And, I didn’t tell a SOUL.
So what did me being tight-lipped about the race really mean? Well, I rationalized, if no one knew then I wouldn’t have to explain (to anyone besides myself) why I chickened out. It’s almost like the concept of the tree falling in the woods without any one around to hear it. I also didn’t want any external pressure (I’m bad with external pressure; it makes me itch). Lastly, I wanted to accomplish this for me, in my own way and in my own time. While the nagging thought of conquering this goal still loomed inside, I decided to fight this battle alone – toe to laced up toe.
Bottom line: plan to race on Sunday!
The week of Race Day hit me like a detox tea the morning after. Reality began to set in when the registration e-mails started to flood my Gmail. The first was about race day details; the next one was concerned with race day weather. But what turned my stomach beyond anything were the following words: “Bottom line: plan to race on Sunday!” I WANTED TO HURL; instead, I laced up my sneakers. I would love to tell you that I had a detailed 5K running plan in place. I did not. I would be thrilled to say that I was a clean, lean “whole food” eating machine; nope, I maintained my diet (which is pretty healthy…most of the time…during the week…when life goes as planned…and I pack my lunch). As race day approached (Sunday), I decide to tell a close friend. She gave me the most hilarious “Guurrlll…” I had ever heard! However, it was quickly followed by a supporting and loving “Girl, you got this!”
You are ready, more than you think you are.
My first 5K, the Magic City 5K, was the best first race I could have ever experienced! The night before jitters were well worth it, and the butterflies dancing around in my stomach were priceless. I began the day with a prayer, power oatmeal (oatmeal with protein mix) and blueberries, and the greatest energy boost tea this side of the cosmos. I packed by bag, packed-up my support crew (my mom, my daughter and “Guurrll” friend) and set out to run my ass off!
Well, I finished the race in a personal record time: 36:37 with a 11:47 pace! I was No. 12 in my age group, and finished strong. If I have to pass on any advice on what I learned from my experience, it would be this:
- You are ready, more than you think you are. The self-doubt is more your creation, than anything else.
- Commit to yourself first. You’re really the only one that matters; because even if no one is around to hear that tree, YOU still know that it fell.
- Run your own race. Many people passed me in the beginning, but staying true to myself kept me in the race (and, helped me pass a few in the end…respectfully).
- Wear a fierce, matte red lip! Matte lipstick is hard to come off, and a red lip always makes you look like you have makeup on (even when you don’t). Ain’t no need of looking beat down going across the finish line (hell, EVERYBODY’S at the finish line. This made me giggle.).
- “You got this!” You’ve run before (if you are training, and are preparing)! Run what you normally run in. Eat what you normally eat before a run.
- Know the route. Knowing the mile markers and route eased my mind tremendously! I knew all the landmarks and what to expect. Most importantly, I knew how close I was to the finish line.
- Bring your crew! Tell family and friends so they can root you on. The conversation and support will ease your jitters. Also, nothing feels better than running across the finish line with a sign and screams with YOUR NAME ON IT.
- Drink the damn water, Gatorade, orangeade… Whatever the volunteers hand out at the water station, take ye and drink ye all of it! The gatorade gave me new life, and that energy gel gave me a really good boost (FYI: I stuck it in my hand warmer and ate some along the way when I felt a little off.)
- Just do it (yes, Nike). Enough said.
- Reward yourself. Openly accept all the praise, congratulations, beer (local, I may add), orange slices and food! You deserve it! After the run, I ploughed through buttermilk pancakes, eggs and ham!
Well, I’m off to training for my next race – the half marathon. But, shhh…don’t tell anyone.