As I mentioned in a previous post, I've never been able to run before in my life. This June I learned how to run using the ChiRunning technique, which has been life changing for me. The technique makes running easier, prevents injuries, and has taught me how to mentally focus.
Back in June I signed up for Run Around the Square (RATS), a fun 5K race in Regent Square on August 27. I've trained for the race by running 3.1 miles or slightly more two days a week on the flat river trail near where I live on the Northside and one day a week doing the actual RATS course, which starts out in the Regent Square residential streets and then goes into Frick Park. Without trying to increase my pace, I've gone from an 11-minute mile to a 10-minute mile because my ChiRunning form has improved. And while the RATS course takes me longer because some of it is uphill, I did the course four times before the race so felt confident and ready.
Still! I've never been in a race before, and I had no idea what running with 1,500 people would be like. ChiRunning relies so much on mental focus, and I was extremely anxious that I wouldn't be able to focus with so many other people and distractions. When I met my sister, who was running the race with me, yesterday morning we were both so nervous we felt like we were going to be sick. But, we managed to smile at the start line.What a fun experience it was! I couldn't focus like I usually do on my runs, but I had no problem running it because of the energy and festive vibe. Throughout the entire route, people came out to play music for the runners. There were bands, a young girl playing a violin, a man playing a saxophone, and another man playing a bagpipe. And all along the course were the cheerleaders--people who came out to clap for us and encourage us, to tell us how much of the hill we had left and that cold beer was waiting for us at the finish line. I especially loved the fast runners who came back onto the trail after they'd finished to high-five us and tell us how close we were to the finish line. Thanks to everyone who came out to support us--it really, really helped me! I also really appreciated my husband getting up very early to be there with me, putting up with my anxiety-induced pre-race craziness, and taking pictures.
In addition to water stations, there was a beer and champagne station at mile 1. At the end there was cold beer as promised as well as fruit, Italian ice, hot dogs, cookies, and pretzels, with a happy and energetic crowd of more than 1,500 enjoying it all in Frick Park, where the finish line was.
My time was 32:48, which is a 10:35 pace. So, it's not my best run, but an improvement for me over past runs. I ran as part of a big mob the entire run, so it was hard to go my regular pace consistently. My goals were not to walk and not to finish last, and I met both goals. On the uphill parts in Frick Park, about half the people were walking. It was very tempting to join them, but I didn't. Once I got through the uphill section and started on the downhill part, I was able to pick up my pace.
Here is my sister and me, all smiles coming out of the first section of Frick Park.
We got separated going into the next section of Frick Park, and because that part was uphill, I couldn't wait for her without walking, which I didn't want to do. So I finished by myself. Here I am sprinting to the finish line.What a great feeling to cross that finish line! We got flowers and water as soon as we crossed.And we also had beer, which is crazy for both of us. I don't drink beer at all, let alone at 10 in the morning.But after achieving a huge personal accomplishment and participating in such a fun, supportive, fantastic event, the beer hit the spot.