Saturday was the big day. My first 5K race, appropriately titled "Guts and Glory" for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. I was nervous about several things. Would my training be enough to get me to the finish line? Would I collapse and die? Would I finish last, crawling on my hands and knees to reach the finish line? (I guess that's better than dying—at least I'd finish.) Nerves and adrenaline took their toll before I even got to the race site. When I arrived and checked in I realized this was a very small race. There were 20 runners. I realized my odds of finishing last were very high.
The group of runners got off to a fast start. I knew I couldn't keep up with the mob, so I jogged at a slow, steady pace—I was going to need as much gas in the tank as possible. The course was about two-and-a-half laps around a park. I was nowhere close to finishing the first lap when I began to struggle. I felt heartburn creeping up in my chest, my face was burning, and my insides were feeling a bit queasy (guts and glory, right?). It was at this point that I started cursing myself for even attempting this. And, of course, I thought, "Never again."
So I slowed to a walk, let my body recuperate, and picked up the pace again. This cycle repeated a few more times. My pace quickened when I passed a 50-year-old woman, and a little on down the way, a teenage boy. I didn't finish last but I almost thought I might have to crawl across the finish line. Someone thought he was pretty funny when he decided to put the finish line at the top of the steepest hill in the park. But the lure of a bagel my mom brought for me helped. I crossed the line with a time of 34:04. Better than I expected.
I actually finished third in my age group and won a medal. Never mind that there were only three women in my age group—I won a medal! My time wasn't impressive compared to some of the super runners that participated, but it has given me something to improve on for the 5K I'm running in October. I completely banished those thoughts of "never again" once I knew I could finish. And I'll only get better, right?