Before signing up for that first 5K, I never really thought a race would be for me. I thought they'd always be for the serious runners. I don't consider myself a competitive person, and I probably had a bit of fear that I'd be the last one to cross the finish line. Once I did one, I realized they were for everyone and it really didn't matter where I finished among everyone else. I could care less about competiting against someone else but the excitement I got out of competing against myself was something I never realized I had in me.
For the first few, I still didn't really feel like I belonged because I still didn't consider myself a 'runner', even though I did feel a high at the finish line. I find myself in the middle of the pack but still wasn't sure I'd hit the point where I was an official runner because I didn't believe it yet. Even after doing two half marathons, the idea sounded so foreign to me. I even went out of my way not to look too 'into' it by carefully choosing my outfit. I've gotten over that now and after the 5K I ran this weekend, I feel like I runner.
This past Saturday, I ran a 5K at Antietam Battlefield. I signed up for it last minute because I'm already starting to freak out about the marathon I'm signed up for in October. Everything I've read indicates the course is hard. One of the harder sections is Antietam Battlefield due to the hills so I thought I'd run this 5K to get a feel for the area and see the roads I'm going to be hitting 20 miles into the marathon.
I went to the 5K alone and got there plenty early. It was starting to get very humid by the race start. I started in the middle of the group and started slow. I always start slow, which is good, but since most of my last races have been longer distances I didn't even have a clue how to start out on this. I was trying to keep it conservative but also kept thinking, this is only 3 miles, this is nothing and started moving up shortly into it. Passed mile two and decided to keep passing people, I was feeling good. We rounded a turn and I could see we were coming back to the area where we started and I was still feeling good. I hit the finish line at 25:30. I honestly couldn't believe it. I never run fast in any of my runs since I've been training for distance but will occasionally throw in some quicker segments. I guess this training stuff pays off because that's faster than I've ever run 3.1 miles. I even high-fived some guy at the end and that is out of character for me...I'm typically very reserved and don't show a lot of excitement in public. Immediately at the end, I thought I could definitely do that faster with a little bit of work.
That's not the kind of time that's going to win me any awards, but that doesn't matter. What matters is seeing how much I've progressed in just 5 months.
I'm a runner and I finally feel like it!