They say the first step to conquering an addiction is to admit you have a problem. Well, I don't want to conquer this addiction but I will admit that I am addicted to running 5k races! I finished my first one Sunday. I did the Hot Chocolate 5k in Atlanta and it was awesome! There were some obstacles to the day, but overall it was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. I want to give a blow-by-blow of the day and include some very important lessons I have learned about running these races, especially big ones like this. I will warn you, some information might be to much for some but trust me, it's important to the story.
The day started at 5am for myself and my very sweet and supportive husband who wanted to come and cheer me on. We headed down to my sister's apartment in Atlanta to meet Dany and Freddy so we could ride together from there. A shout out also goes to my sweet sister who let me in to her apartment even though I woke her up, so I could use the restroom before I left. We got near Centennial Olympic park and started looking for parking. Luckily we found some not too far from where the shuttle was going to pick us up even though it was $20. As we started walking to the shuttle it was about 7:30 and the race started at 7:45. We started running toward the shuttle, along with some other late comers, and made it just in time to one about to pull out. As we headed toward Turner Field we realized we are definitely going to be late. Lesson 1: Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to the race.
We finally get there and see that it is absolutely packed. There were a total of 19,000 people at this race. Dany was supposed to run in corral A and Freddy and I were slated to run in corral B. For those of you who are unaware of how they line runners up for larger races, as I was, they do it based on how fast you can run a mile and line everyone up accordingly. Unfortunately, because we were late, we started out in corral G. This means we started mostly with walkers and this posed a challenge as we started to run the race and needed to try and get around people in order to pick up speed. As we crossed the starting line we went single file in order for us to run around others and try to get into some kind of open area. Danny and Freddy left me pretty early on and I began my first 5k.
As I began to get clear of people I picked up some speed and was off! I still had to dodge people but tried to run on the sidewalks as much as possible as they were mostly empty. There was one point early on where I was passing someone on their right and thought I had enough room to clear them. Apparently I didn't and as his right arm came back in his stride and accidentally hit me. I shrugged it off and quickly dodged in front of him, while saying I was sorry, because at the moment I passed him I was about to run in to someone who had started slowing down in front of him. As I did that he hit me on my shoulder to let me know he was mad at me for cutting in front of him. I just waved and kept running. Lesson 2: Be prepared that you will have to dodge and weave around people.
So, other than getting hit, the first half of the race went along without a hitch. I was calm, focused, breathing well, and had dominated every hill I came across. What I didn't mention earlier was that as we lined up for the race I realized I had to use the restroom again. I drank a lot of water on the way to Atlanta and it didn't catch up with me until we got there. About half way through the race it hit me. I was so uncomfortable and tried to run faster in order to get done and go to the restroom. As I ran up the last hill (which seemed much easier to me!) I was thankful to look over and see the finish line. Lesson 3: Make sure you use the restroom right before the race, even if you think you don't have to go.
As I crossed the finish line I was smiling, pumping my fists in the air, and telling the MC who was encouraging people at the end that I just finished my first ever 5k. I felt unstoppable and incredibly proud of myself. But, as I started walking the urge to use the restroom intensified. I walked over to a volunteer and asked her where the bathroom was. She gave me a sympathetic look and said that they were over near where we started. I thanked her and continued running! I weaved around the people walking telling them to excuse me but that I really had to pee! At one point another volunteer who had a megaphone saw me and said, "look at this girl, she's still running!" As I came upon the porta potties I saw the one on the end open and someone about to walk in. She saw my distress and let me go ahead of her. Once I came out of the porta potty I was much happier and very ready to find my husband and coaches to celebrate.
I called my husband and he walked over to where I was. As soon as I saw him I started to cry because I was so happy to have accomplished this goal! After he congratulated me I asked if he had seen Dany and Freddy. He said he hadn't so we started looking for them. Neither of them had their phones and, as I said before, there were about 19,000 people there. This post is already pretty long so I won't go in to detail but after more than an hour, and some pretty funny near misses and communication ingenuity, we were finally reunited and as I hugged Dany I felt like we had spent years apart instead of an hour. Lesson 4: Always, always, always come up with a meeting place before hand.
I am extremely proud of myself for this accomplishment and now I am thoroughly addicted to running races. And I actually did really well considering it was my first race ever, and it was a pretty difficult course. I have posted my stats below. Look out for more posts about races because this is definitely not my last!
Stats: I completed the race in 32:03 with a 10:19 pace. I finished 1566 out of 9086 overall and 137 out of 907 in my age group (females only).