My return to Utica, N.Y., for the Boilermaker Road Race a couple weeks ago has had me reminiscing about my very first race.
I wrote about it before in my origin story …
I signed up for the Little Giant 5K in Westmoreland, N.Y., the last weekend in July. I started running three or four days a week. I really had no idea how far or how fast I was going, but I easily dropped the weight and finally started feeling strong and athletic again. Race day came, and on about one hour of sleep after working until 2 a.m., I ran it. By myself. It was hilly and hot, and after pushing to the end, I quickly made my way inside the high school at the finish line and spent about five minutes dry heaving in the bathroom. Afterward, while munching on a granola bar and waiting for them to post the finishing times (!), an incredible thing happened. I won a freaking trophy! Somehow I finished third in my age group with a time of 29:55. (Did I mention it was a really, really small race?)
Even more than that, I’ve been thinking about how racing has become second nature, but it didn’t happen immediately. I went to that first race by myself. I didn’t know anyone else running it, and I didn’t even really live in the area (I was just a wee intern in a new city). I didn’t know what the race setup would even LOOK like. I didn’t know how to navigate a water stop. I didn’t have music or a watch. I did a shoddy job of pinning on my bib number. And I was so stoked when there were snacks at the finish.
Mostly, I was proud that I had done what I said I was gonna do. I ran the race. I finished the race. I tried something different. Hooray for me! And that’s how it all begins …
Twelve years and about 40 races later, I’m an old pro. I take for granted things that once were so foreign to me. I learned by doing and embracing, and it seems that every race, I learn something new about the sport and myself.
Now, it’s your turn, Angels. Tell me about your first race. — Mags