Thursday, July 11, 2013

Reflections on first 5Ks

The last 7 weeks has completely flown by, and it's hard to believe that my first training group will be running their first official 5K on Sunday.  I am so proud of this group of 10 who started out struggling to make it past 60 straight seconds of jogging, and can now run 30 minutes straight.  This group is exceptional in that they haven't given up, despite the extreme heat that has faced us during our training.

This morning, as I was doing laundry, I was reflecting on how excited I am for these people.  It led to my thinking back to 2007, and my first 5Ks.  I remembered how nervous I was about...well...everything! 

I was afraid about: being able to run the whole distance, breaking my leg, peeing my pants (hey, google "marathon accidents"), tripping, looking hideous in my new fancy running gear, and most of all- coming in last and everyone laughing at me at the finish line. 
bib numero uno

My first 5K taught me that I could, in deed, run 5K straight without breaking my leg or peeing my pants.  I also learned that it really doesn't MATTER how you look in your running gear, and, most importantly, that I wouldn't come in last.  I was so proud of myself at that finish line that I cried.  To this day, I still get goose bumps thinking about that moment.  I had gone from literally not being able to run to my mailbox to running 3 miles in just 6 weeks.  It was a big, exciting deal for me. 

The "I'll be last and they'll all laugh at me at the finish" fear isn't uncommon for first time racers, especially those new to running.  It's a fear I know that my newbie runners are facing right now.

What I've learned in all my years and distances in racing is this:  Chances are, if you're running MOST of the way, you're not going to be last.  Lots of people these days go out and walk an entire 5K for fun.  
But what I learned as a race director is even more valuable.  Even if you ARE last, and walked the whole way, and took 55 minutes to do that 5K, no one will be laughing at you.  As a race director, I had great joy in watching every single person come across my finish line.  I was incredibly impressed by everyone who crossed that finish, no matter what their time was or how ragged they looked as they crossed.  

Newbies, have no fears!  Have fun!  Have faith!  Be proud of what you've accomplished!

“Crossing the starting line may be an act of courage, but crossing the finish line is an act of faith. Faith is what kepes us going when nothing else will. Faith is the emotion that will give you victory over your past, the demons in your soul, & all of those voices that tell you what you can & cannot do & can & cannot be.”
John Bingham