So this weekend, I ran my first timed race! And it was a 10K! I still can’t believe it. The Run 10 Feed 10, sponsored by Women’s Health Magazine, benefits the FEEDS Projects, that provide meals to those in America who are food insecure (or who don’t know where their next meal is coming from). The entry fee alone provides 10 meals for the FEED Foundation (hence the name; Run 10 Feed 10). Being a dietitian, I’m all for feeding people! Here are my thoughts on the Women’s Health Run 10 Feed 10. I wanted to wait a little bit before writing this in order to let the entire experience digest and to gather my thoughts.
Looking back it feels like the whole race went by in a whirl lasting about 10 minutes, but I can’t forget about thinking, at the time, how hard it was and how much I couldn’t wait for it to be over. That being said, it was a hot, humid, and muggy morning (which is weird considering October is around the corner, and the past few weeks we’ve seen BEAUTIFUL weather). The race was slated to start at 7AM on Pier 84 on the West Side Highway. My roommate and I took a cab across town and got to the start around 6:40, while waiting in line at the bag check we met up with our other friends who were also running the race. I was a good mix of nervous and excited, and my mouth was super dry from the emotions. Thankfully we were standing by a water table, and I ended up spending a good part of the pre-race group stretch swishing water around my mouth. At about 7:15, the horn blared and everyone was off!
Mile 1: The first mile honestly flew by and was completely unmemorable. What I do remember was my GPS app saying “mile 1, average pace: blah blah blah” and thinking “OK, nice, I can speed it up a bit.”
Mile 2: Mile 2 was my fastest mile time, like, ever. I think I was a little surprised by how fast my adrenaline was carrying me. I also ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and saddled up right next to her and talked to her for a little bit, which was nice (hi Shayna!). But then I felt a little winded and had to plug back into the music and focus. Also of note, watching everyone’s pony tails swishing back and forth was making me a little dizzy – has anyone else ever experienced this during a race?
Mile 3: Oh mile 3. I think I hit the proverbial wall, which I wasn’t expecting to hit for at least another mile (yes I was expecting to hit a wall, I have such faith in myself). I felt my legs slowing down and somewhere around 3.5 miles I had to slow to a walk. I felt so winded that I just needed to catch my breath a little, and I kept thinking “oh man, there’s still SO MUCH MORE TO GO” one second, and then “come on, only 2.5 more miles, that’s nothing!” another second. I think the humidity was making me go crazy. I ended up walking for about half a song, and then a song on my playlist popped up on my shuffle that I ALWAYS sprint to, and I picked it right back up.
Mile 4: I don’t even remember what I was thinking during mile 4. I do know that I saw a water station a few yards ahead and decided to walk until I got to the water station (so that added another 30 seconds or so of walking). After I took a small sip of water and dumped the rest over my head, I started to run again and I felt like I had much better control over my breathing. I looked at a nearby street sign and saw that I was at Houston street, and that I had about 45 more city blocks to run. I could do this.
Mile 5: I ran at a much more manageable and sustainable pace for all of Mile 5 than in the first 2 miles, and didn’t feel too badly! At this point I knew there was less than 2 miles left, I just had to keep moving, focus on even breathing, relax the shoulders, and not walk. I thought the more you walk, the longer you’re going to be stuck in this stupid race, and the longer it’s going to take to get to the free food (really this was the thought running through my head for all of mile 5).
Mile 6: I swear, we passed the Mile 6 marker and EVERYONE around me picked up the pace. An inspirational song came up on my playlist and I DUG DEEP and felt my legs pick up speed, feeding off the energy from only god knows where, because I would have sworn my gas tank was completely empty at this point. This powerful sprint lasted for literally 10 seconds, and then I was like, “nope back to a nice even pace.” I saw the crowd at the end and thought I was at the finish line, but then at the last second everyone was yelling “BIG TURN! BIG TURN!” I wanted to honestly yell back “I HATE YOU!!!!!” but then I rounded the big turn and saw the finish line about 20 yards away and somehow found even more energy to make a huge final push for it.
Immediately following the race, I walked around aimlessly in a daze. I can’t even tell you what I was thinking. Then I met up with my friends who also finished, and we celebrated our hard work with a ton of free food, a free yoga mat, and a bunch of other free swag. Despite the fact that I really thought I was going to drop dead somewhere between miles 3 and 5 and that the humidity really took a toll on my breathing, I must say that basking in the satisfaction of reaching a goal erased all the negative thoughts I had during the race.
I signed up for the RUN 10 FEED 10 at the very beginning of June and always saw it as the the official end of the summer, but now that I’m on the other side of the finish line, I’ve realized that it meant a lot more than that. If someone were to tell me a year ago that I would be running 6.2 miles, I would have literally laughed in their faces. This just goes to show that with some hard work, dedication, determination, and the mental strength to dig deep within your head, you can push yourself to achieve a goal. Yes, I realize this race was only a 10K, and it’s probably not as impressive as running a half or full marathon. But to me, this was an absolutely colossal achievement. That’s what I’ve learned to love about running: everyone has their own goals and their own journeys. Running means something completely different to everyone who does it, and what you want to set out to accomplish is completely individual to your wants and desires. When you run a race, you’re not competing against other runners, but the little voice inside your head that tells you that there’s no way you can do it. And on that note, happy racing!