Completing My First Ever 10K Race!
So I completed my first ever 10k race, guys & gals! It feels amazing. Really amazing to be able to check it off the bucket list. To set a goal and crush it. To do something you promised yourself you would. I even did better than I had expected – my pace was better than I expected, and I felt better than I expected throughout and all the way to the finish line. I’m so happy I finally decided to sign-up for the race, and I’m so happy and proud of myself for finishing! There’s so much to share from this experience – from what I did, to how I felt, and all that jazzy jazz.
But let me start off with saying that I did not sign up for the race because I loved running… I know, just hear me out.
Why Did I Decide to Run a 10k?
About 2 months ago, I did not like running. I did not truly enjoy it. I did not consider myself a runner. All because I felt I was not good at it. I knew it was a weakness of mine – distance running.
Running and I actually started off on the wrong foot, and built an unhealthy relationship with each other. At the start of my fitness journey, I ran a lot and it was only because I thought it was the only way to reach my weight loss goals at the time. It was more about losing, rather than gaining anything. It was seen as a punishment. So I really struggled with running, physically and mentally.
But I had this lingering goal on my life bucket list. And that was to run at least one race associated to a charity. One night, laying in bed, I came across Women’s Health Magazine’s RUN 10 FEED 10 annual 10k race, which is dedicated to raising money and awareness for the dire hunger problem in America. Roughly 42 million Americans are going hungry and have not a clue when they will get their next meal. The money from the registrations for the race instantly provides 10 meals to people who need it. I thought to myself, “WOW, I want to do this! This is an amazing cause!" But I didn’t sign up right then and there at that moment. Why? Because I was scared. I was scared I couldn’t complete the run since I never ran that distance before. I was hesitant. I was hesitant because I still had the bad taste of running in my mouth and I just felt I sucked at it. Like “ughhhh. I already don’t really run much. Now to run over 6 miles?”
So I had this RUN 10 FEED 10 race opened on a tab in my browser for days. But the desire to do the race pulled at me. I grew annoyed with myself for feeling weak in running, and from fearing the thought of failure. I wanted to improve, I wanted to complete the race, and I wanted to participate in the cause so bad. So a few nights after, lying in my bed again, I decided to just go for it and signed up for the race! (Man, it seems like great ideas come to be in my bed hahaa) My decision to sign up for the race came down to: (1) I believed in the cause, (2) I wanted to work on my weakness and to work on my relationship with running, and (3) I wanted to fulfill a goal on my life bucket list and come through on my promise to myself.
So Then What? How Did I Prepare?
I signed up for my first 10k race. Received my confirmation email for the sign-up. But then what? Where did I go from here? This person who disliked running, and who never ran this distance before. Well it came down to these three points:
Set the Ego Aside
Yes, I work out often and I am quite an active person. I consider myself to be a strong individual and capable. But I needed to look at myself as a beginner. I needed to set my ego aside and not let it cloud my judgment in how I would go about training for this race. I had to understand that I’ve never run this distance before. I had to understand that I could not and should not throw on my running shoes and hit the streets to crank out those 6+ miles right then and there. I gave myself 10 weeks to train for the race. I hopped on a beginners training program. I started the weeks running 2-2.5miles for three days a week. I had a day for long runs and two days for short recovery runs. Each week I would increase the mileage 0.5-1mile after honestly assessing how I felt. No short-cuts and getting ahead of myself.
Letting the ego be our training buddy could lead us to make irrational decisions and lead to injury. The ego will not respect our body and think about its long-term performance. I wanted to be sure I was preparing myself in an effective and, most importantly, honest way.
So bye, Felicia! Or should I say – bye, Ego!
Do More Than Just Run. Cross-train.
Yes, the saying does go that if you want to get better at something, you’ve got to do that something. I was in fact running, but I also did other forms of training – strength training to be exact. I knew supplementing running with strengthening exercises will not only aid in injury prevention (strengthen muscles and improve imbalances) but will make me stronger and more efficient of a runner. With just running, the quads could start to overpower our hamstrings, the upper body could be neglected, and we could develop poor flexibility—which could lead to problems. Like 99 problems, and injury would be one. (Oh, didn’t you hear there was this new Jay-z remix out?)
So I would strength train 2-3 days in the week. Automatically, we would assume “Oh, I’m running, so I must be strength training my legs. That’s all.” Yes I did strength train my lower body, BUT also my back muscles, my arms, my chest, my core, my… everything really. I viewed my body as one single unit. One machine I wanted to be strong. Strong runs require a solid foundation. When you run, your abdominal and back muscles fire to stabilize your spine. When you run, your arms and shoulders will help maintain speed throughout. So I incorporated total body exercises, compound movements, and kept my training real simple. As my professor back in college used to say: Just K.I.S.S. – Just Keep.It.Simple.Stupid.
Deadlifts, Squats, Pull-ups, Push-ups, Planks....
I also had to make sure I kept things in balance. I strength trained, but also made sure to not overdue it so as to not risk negatively impacting my runs. Can’t have overly sore, tired legs on the long run days, ya know?
Which leads me to my next point…
Learn to Listen & Rest
You’ve got to listen to your body, like actually listen. Then, actually respect your body and allow it to rest when it’s showing you signs it needs to. There were days where I felt drained, or my foot started to bother me, or maybe my knee felt funky. I could have pushed myself to run those days all because “the plan” was a scheduled run that day, but it most possibly would have made everything worse. Instead of living by the motto, “no pain no gain,” I made sure to address any pains so I could make those gains! I know. Oh I know… It can be hard to take the rest days when they aren’t part of the plan. You kind of feel guilty. You kind of feel like you’re not dedicated enough. On those days, I had the itch to get up and go. But I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad I spent the time to give my body the rest it needed. Focused on stretching those tight and overworked muscles. Clicked that reset button on this machine. I never regretted it because a day or two after when I would tie those shoelaces into bunny ears and head out the door, I would feel stronger and more powerful than ever in my run. Giving your body the rest it needs does not necessarily mean you’re not dedicated to your goals (You’ll know when you’re being just pure lazy). Know that you’re actually very much dedicated to your bodies’ long-term performance and health. That’s all. Ya feel me?
So with all that training, sweating, resting in the 10 weeks, how did it all go race day?
Emotions During the 10k Race
I woke up bright and early for this race that was scheduled at 7AM. I woke up at 4:30AM, ate breakfast, stretched, and fought with my anxiety & excitement as I made my way to the race location with my best friend who came to support me.
At 6:53am, everyone was called to the start line to prepare for the race to begin. “I’m doing this. I can do this.” – Is what I thought to myself. And when 7AM hit, and the horns sounded, and I launched off with everyone beside me.
It was a beautiful site. To see the whole Westside Highway closed off and filled with thousands of excited individuals running. No cars. The city was still practically asleep since it was so early in the morning. It was just us thousands of runners, running together. I was taking it all in, trying to still breath appropriately because the view seriously took my breath away. But I was feeling great! I felt proud to be on that road.
I’m over that halfway point, and I’m still feeling good physically. Mentally, it’s becoming a challenge. A lot of people that were behind me have started to run pass me. I do start to feel a little nervous, and my ego wants to make an appearance. But I checked myself before I wrecked myself. My only competition is myself. I must continue to focus on what feels right for me, and not for my ego. My ego wants to me to start sprinting pass these folks, but it won’t be there to catch me when I collapse face first to the ground cause my legs would give out. So stay focused, Sandy. Stay focused. Bye, Ego!
I’m feeling tired. I’m feeling so hot and sweaty. And I have to pee… Great combo. At this point, I’m excited I’m almost there, but also feel frustrated in thinking I’m so far away. My body is still performing, but my mind is starting to talk myself into stopping on the side to chill out. I’m running, but my mind and body is wrestling with each other. I kept going though. I told my mind to believe, I told my bladder to hold on tight, and I told my body to keep going cause my best friend is waiting to see me cross that finish line!
Run baby, run!
And at 54:59, I crossed that finish line! I finished! I completed a race I had thought I couldn’t do back 2 months ago. I even finished at a pace better than I expected! I worked on a weakness, and came out feeling stronger than ever.
I fulfilled a promise to myself.
“How do you feel?” – everyone asks. I feel AMAZING!
“Going to sign-up for a marathon next?” – everyone asks… Slow your roll ya’ll….. Let me take this in will ya? I don’t have a for sure answer for that just yet. But I do have these two…
Final Thoughts & Takeaways
I definitely want to run more races in the future. For the awesome experience of running along side others, and running for a cause.
And, I see running is not a punishment. It is a privilege.