Birth of a Runner

Shoes comfortably laced, calves suitably stretched, apprehensively awaiting the official start. There I stood, 42 years old running my first 5K. Random thoughts played through my mind, “What if my shoe comes untied?” “What if I have to pee?” “What if get stuck in pack of slow runners?” “What if I can’t breathe properly?” “What if I take a wrong turn and get lost?” Desperate for answers but finding none, I took a deep breath and told myself to, “shut up.” No sense in psyching myself out before I even had a chance to get sweaty.

And they’re off, hundreds of pairs of feet heading the same direction at once. Sprinters pulled away quickly leading the pack from start to finish. Eager students ran hard succumbing to exhaustion a mile into the race. Me? I ran my own race; rhythmic, steady, comfortable and alone. Competing against only myself I cared little whether anyone passed me. Admittedly, I did feel a smidgen of pride pulling ahead of any male, or females appearing younger than me.

Physically, I was prepared for this race. My training regimen includes five mile runs three days a week, cardio/weight training two days, and an extended run on Saturdays. Mentally, I was blind sided. The terrain was unfamiliar providing no landmarks in which to track my pace. I had no time piece, nothing. I was completely reliant on my body as a measurement of progress. Mile marker one provided a sense of relief, one third of the race completed. Mile marker two seemed an enigma that might never appear. Mile marker three perched tauntingly atop a hill.

Crossing the finish line with shaking legs, vomiting would have provided a welcome relief. Instead, I graciously accepted a half bagel from a smiling volunteer. With no official timer, I obediently turned in my #72 tongue depressor & awaited the race results. Eyeing other participants, attempting to gauge their ages, I wondered who would place in the “Female 40-44” division. As winners were named, my heart thudded so loudly I barely heard, “First Place, Becky Miller.” Winning was not my reason for entering, but it has definitely fueled my competitive nature & provided motivation for me to continue on.

See you on the track!

2 thoughts on “Birth of a Runner

  1. I ran my first 5K at 49. Congrats on winning your age division — that's awesome. It's especially impressive given that you had not external way to judge your pace. What was your time for the race?

    BTW, I saw your “Reverse Culture Shock” tweet on the #missions Twitter hashtag feed and got to this post via your “Running Rants” tag. I do a missions blog from the field perspective:

  2. There was no official clock, but I did inquire the time from a fellow participant after the race and based on start time, I ran the race in about 30 minutes. Thanks for the link to your blog. I will take a look. My husband has been to Africa twice and Macedonia once. I'm headed for Haiti in July.

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