I made a mistake with my first 5K. I registered for a race just one week in advance and I didn't check out the location beforehand. I had been training for another 5K that was supposed to be a few weeks later, but I decided I was ready and I wanted to run one right away. I called my friend and asked her to come with me after I registered so that I could get a feel for the course. Holy crap! It was terrifying. There were hills everywhere, roots and tree branches in the middle of the trail, and it was muddy and rainy. Just walking around, I thought I was going to slip and die. I told my husband about it and gave me his blessing to skip the race, even though I had already paid for it. He said we could just consider it a donation, since the race was a Run/Walk for Diabetes. But I decided to suck it up and give it a try.
Of course, race day, it was still rainy, muddy, and cold. Exactly what you want to deal with for your first 5K. Right?
Well, I actually started out strong. I was super impressed with myself actually because I was keeping pace with some of the more seasoned runners. (By which I mean the people who had run in maybe one 5K in the past). I was moving at a snail's pace, but I was doing better than I had thought I would, given the weather and the terrain. For the first few hills, everthing was ok.
Then, I started running down a hill that basically felt like a cliff. My feet were moving faster than my brain was telling them to. I kept trying to regain control of my body, but with no success. Finally, the inevitable happened. My right foot slipped in the muck and my ankle gave way. I screamed a fairly inappropriate word as loud as I could. The old man behind me jogged by and asked, "Are you ok?" While he continued to run. Rude. If I had said, "No," would he have stopped? I mean, this dude was not about to set a world record by any stretch of the imagination. For God's sake, he had been behind me! Apparently, he was determined to set a PR or something, or he had no manners.
I stayed on the ground a few moments, trying to decide if I was about to cry. But then I got the adrenaline back and I decided to pull myself up and fight on. I stood up and tried to regain my composure. Then I started running again. Immediately. I didn't give myself time to decide if I was in too much pain, or to rethink my decision. I just ran. Not that I mean to say that I ran fast because I am not a fast runner by any stretch of the imagination. But I ran at the same pace I was running before the unfortunate slip'n'slide incident.
As I continued running, I started to notice that I was actually in some pain. My knee still smarted from the landing, my ankle hurt because I twisted it a bit, and my hand hurt from smacking the ground as I cursed. I started rethinking my decision to run. I told myself, "Just keep going. When you finish this, you are going to be proud of yourself, no matter how bad your time is, because you finished your first race even after making an ass of yourself." I kept running. And then the best thing that could have happened to keep me motivated happened. The guy who ran past me without asking if I needed help began to slow down. He was getting tired. Heck yeah! I decided that not only would I finish the race, but I would finish with a better time than him.
In the end, I finished my first 5K with a terrible, horrible, not even remotely impressive time of 43:02. When I got to the finish line of my first 5K, I thought I was going to faint. I was dizzy, and tired, and sore as hell because I am used to running on flat ground and I made the mistake of running in the hilliest race of all time (ok..maybe not the hilliest, but pretty darn close). I looked down and noticed that my knees scraped and bleeding. While I was running, I had no idea that I had been cut. A man waiting at the finish line said, "You fell?" I laughed uncomfortably and said, "Yeah. Like a the first half mile." He said, "You look hurt. Are you ok?"
I was ok. I was awesome actually. I was proud of myself. I had decided to race even though it was raining, even though it was hilly, even though my husband had given me an out. I had kept running even though I fell. And I beat the dude who didn't bother stopping to help.
I finished my second 5K a few weeks later in 29:09. I was really proud of my time. I had set a goal of beating 30:00 and I accomplished it. But I am more proud of my 43:02.