I left of with starting the race.
One of the things I often say in real life (but I don’t know if I say it on the blog that much… or ever) is that the first mile is always the hardest.
You’ve woken up at a crazy hour of the morning, then waited in your corral for a while. An hour later, once you cross the start line, the thoughts start flooding in. “Am I crazy?” “I’m tired.” “Running is hard.” “I want to slow down.” “I think I overestimated my abilities. It’s possible I shouldn’t be here.”
I thought that perhaps I was in over my head trying to keep up with the 3 hour pacer. But, come on. Right now I’m only trying to make it to the first mile marker. I can at least do that, right?
Backtracking for a second, the water tent by the start was out of water in the morning. So, I added the, “oh my gosh, I’m not hydrated enough!” and “I’m thirsty; If I can feel thirst, I’m already under-hydrated” doubts to my mind mix.
Re-un-backtracking, I was so pleased to see the 1st mile marker! Woo hoo! I was able to keep up with everyone for a mile!
After hearing Deena Kastor and the pacers speak at the expo about latching on, trusting your pacer, and just having fun; I came to the race without my running app, music, or anything. (Well, I did have a mini-bagel. More on that later. But, I didn’t have any distractions or fancy math contraptions.) I put all my trust in Joy (and annoyingly asked her at the end of every mile how we were doing).
After this first mile, we were at a 12:30 pace. We kept pretty much the same pace for the 2nd mile.
I didn’t see Kathleen or Sherri again basically after the start, but Brandon’s pretty sure we didn’t lose them until the end of mile 2. A part of me wanted to drop off myself, but I thought, “I’ll just try to make it through the first 5k with everyone.”
Somewhere in mile 2 or 3, we passed this huge theater-looking place. A humongous organ was being played there. It was cool, though I could never tell you where to go see it. I had no idea where we were in the scheme of San Diego. (As you might know, I have an incredible (read: absolutely awful) sense of direction and sense of bearings. I pretty much barely ever know where I am.)
As we were running, we passed Joy’s coach from the San Diego track club. He was standing by with a megaphone, encouraging everyone that ran by. He gave a shout out to Joy when we passed, and I yelled back my thanks for sending her out with us.
We passed this big church group with people yelling about turning away from sin for fear of burning for eternity. My group had a lot of little jokes flying about how if they really wanted people to listen, they’d have brought water. Or, they’d be encouraging these hard working instead of trying to strike fear in people.
Members of our little running group also said that if they really want to get people when they’re most vulnerable – meet them in mile 13, not mile 3. You may have had to have been there to understand the loud, brash, off-putting nature of the repetitive, scary, sign-wiedling group; and to understand the inflections and quick wit of the runners around me, which made it such a hilarious fun, brain break that helped me keep running with these funny people.
It was definitely a struggle to keep up in mile 3, but Joy was an amazing pacer. (Brandon was very encouraging as well.) Deena Kastor had signed the back of Joy’s shirt at the expo; anytime I wanted to fade, I looked at the signature, chased Deena’s words of latching on and not letting go.
We made it through the first 5k with a time of 39:21 – my fastest 5k time ever (including inside or outside of a half marathon).
Months ago, when I did my first sub 40 minute 5k, I went straight for a curb and sat down, huffing and puffing, totally spent. This time, I kept on going for another 10.1 miles. I didn’t finish this race with a fast time, but I still see improvement that I’m happy about.
As we went downhill on the highway, Joy told me to focus on my stride. She definitely distracted me while I was tired. Smart things about posture, strides, and everything kept coming from Joy. She was bright a ray of positive energy, all about believing in everyone.
This is where I’ll pick up tomorrow.