I'm finally sitting down to write about my first 10k experience this past Sunday at the Gresham Jazz Run. I've been avoiding it for a few days, as I haven't been sure how to put the whole thing in to words. I finished! It was hard, wonderful, fun, exhilarating and encouraging. I've almost been trying to "keep it to myself" in order to savor it for as long as possible. But now it's time to share, I think. :)
My adorable grandparents from Yakima came down for the weekend to watch me finish, and I was able to spend time with them on Saturday. It's crazy how much you can miss your family and not even realize it until you see them again! Having them here to support me, to cheer and take pictures and tell me they're proud - was probably the best part about the entire experience. They've seen me quit sport after sport (and paid for most of it) and my Grandma admitted that she was surprised when I told them I was going to start running. Yet there I was, finishing my first timed race with them cheering me across the finish line. Aren't they adorable?
We arrived at the Gresham Main City Park around 8am on Sunday morning, in one of those "hurry-up-and-wait" sort of moods. I was eager to get there as early as my family would allow me to because I was so anxious about not missing anything. It turns out that we were right on time and didn't miss a thing. We even got to wait around for almost an hour in the frigid weather (sorry guys!). Ethan was all bundled up in a fleece bodysuit and looked like a star fish. He got to play around in the park while I was running. Here he is with part of his fan club from Core Life Church (L to R - Joni, Kelli, Heidi, Kaylee & Ethan). These ladies also came to watch my training buddy - Sheri - and I finish together.
Lining up for the race was such a thrill! Because it was my first timed race I was especially aware of all the "stuff" they had around the start/finish line in order to time us. Though I have no idea what any of it was, actually. Just a bunch of cables and mats and stuff. :) We took off from the start line and followed the Springwater Trail along a familiar path toward Sheri's house. Most of the racers sped off in that first mile, and we found ourselves plodding along ever so faithfully and persistently among the speed-walkers. We actually trailed a pair of gals who were "power-walking" for the entire race and finally passed them in the last mile. Haha.
Things got hard when we got to mile 2 and headed off from the Springwater Trail into a residential neighborhood. The elevation map shows a 700ft climb in mile 2. I don't know if that's big compared to other races... but it certainly felt like it to us. I'd walked the course before so I was mentally prepared for how hard it was going to be, but that hill still kicked my butt. My partner and I made it almost 3/4 of the way up and then decided to power-walk the rest of it because we were both concerned about finishing the last 4 miles. But we made it! After conquering Walters Hill we went through another zig-zag of residential neighborhoods for the 3rd mile. The 4th mile happened to be along another trail that wrapped through the backyards of a few neighborhoods in Gresham. It was really twisty and bumpy and actually rather exciting. By that point we'd lost all the walkers (except for that pair we'd pass in the last mile) and runners (who passed us and were already finished by now... hahaha) and were really enjoying a scenic run through the trail area. Mile 5 went along the Springwater Trail - we'd looped around and were running back to where we'd started in Gresham Main City Park. The last mile felt challenging, but doable. We were both tired after dealing with the hill and rugged trail, but were so thrilled with our accomplishments that we had the strength to carry through. I was chomping at the bit to sprint to the finish line, but Sheri talked me down (she's such a good partner) and we held out until we were closer to the finish line. I'm sure if I would have struck out when I'd asked her to initially, we'd both have collapsed in sight of the finish line in a pile of tears and hyperventilating.
But - we didn't! We got to the finish line and were greeted by Sheri's roomates, my Grandparents, my husband and son, a couple of our friends from church, and my roommate from college. Our pastor even decided to walk down from Cafe D when he saw some of the pics someone posted from their mobile phone. There was much cheering and celebration. :)
I felt a little dizzy - like I did after my first race - when we finished, but I took a nice little walk to slow my body back down and that really helped. We stayed around for a bit to enjoy the race atmosphere and the thank everyone for coming. Then my sweet grandparents took us to lunch before they headed out of town. So sweet.
On our way home, Daniel bought me a little chocolate kitty (picture to come) to say congrats for my race. We ate them together right before I took my first ice bath to keep my legs from being in too much pain. I think they work - or my body is ridiculously more athletic than I thought. Probably the ice bath, though. It was cold, but after it was all over I never had any joint or muscle pain after the race.
So that's the story! Now I'm counting down days and getting started on training for my first half-marathon in March 2010. In Florida. In Disneyworld. That's right... Disneyworld! Talk about motivation!
OH - and I almost forgot. I finished in 1:23:38. Not Olympic material, but way better than the three hours it took me to walk the course a month ago. And better than I thought we'd do after walking for what seemed like "too long."