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My First Race

2010/04/08

What possessed me to register for a 10k race last year with no real running experience? The initial reason was trash-talking cousin-in-laws who had already committed to running the Sunburst 10K in South Bend the first weekend of June. But once I signed up and began training, it became a matter of personal accomplishment. Since this was my first race, and 6.2 miles was daunting by my own newbie standards, I set my personal goal as being able to complete the race at a constant run without stopping or walking. I didn’t care who I beat or who beat me – of course, that didn’t stop me from dishing out trash talk back at those cousins as form of playful motivation.

I began training in March last year (in shoes, I feel I must clarify, for I had yet to realize there were alternatives). I had found a 10K training program by Hal Higdon online, and there was no question I was a “novice” and so I trained at that level. I would be lying if I said I stayed true to the schedule;  the reality of the matter was that my rest days sometimes lasted an entire week. I ran when I could, and I always tried to run the prescribed distance for the particular day, if not further.

With more runs logged, it became easier, and the better I felt after each run – hitting that “runner’s high” in the middle of a run became my little reward for getting out there each time. And I had no pains to speak of aside from leg muscle soreness a day or two after a longer run. I was actually enjoying myself!

I wouldn’t say I was a fast runner by any means, but I thought I was running well. When I ran 5.5 miles for the first time without stopping – 4.5 of which was the actual Sunburst course – I knew I could do it come race day. Any doubts about my ability to finish the race vanished.

Race day: We gathered at Dhanwantari before the race – me, Mike, Brian, Courtney, Chris, Matt, Tracy. I was astonished to find out that Mike and Brian had done minimal training – “a couple runs” only weeks before. And Mike reported that his carb load the night before was 4 beers. Damn, I thought, he’s in for it!

As it turned out, Mike was the first finisher out our little group. Brian, the other minimal trainer, finished alongside Mike.

Sunburst 2009 10K

Sunburst 2009: Soon-to-be-Vacant Hall of Fame to Notre Dame!

I had tried to keep those two in my sight after I backed down my pace around Mile 2, wanting to keep from wearing out too soon since I was unsure of what to expect of myself later. I completely lost sight of them by Mile 3, and the others, I had lost track of them shortly after the start, somewhere in the cattle stampede. However, near Mile 5, I happened to glance to my left and recognized Courtney – she had just passed me. I immediately picked up the pace and caught up with her, and we paced each other as we turned the corner and came into view of Notre Dame Stadium, inside which waited the finish line. We entered the stadium side by side, but as soon as we came out of the tunnel, I broke into a sprint, hearing Courtney cursing behind me. I only finished two seconds ahead of her, but we were both surprised to see Mike and Brian enjoying Gatorade and a cool towel on the other side of the finish line.

No matter – I finished the race. And I felt ecstatic. My finishing time was 1:01:37, and I set my goal for 2010 to finish in under an hour. But the was a year away…at the time. Now it’s only 2 months away.

But first things first: I have a half marathon in 1 month to prepare for.

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