Lesson #1: The first lesson was pretty straightforward, and looking back, a no-brainer to be sure! Here it is, plain and simple:
How's that for simple? Now, let's break this down:
For those of you who are experienced runners, you are laughing and saying, "Well of course!"
But for newbie running friends preparing for their first race, or those friends who are reading and thinking about taking up running, here's the protocol: When you go to a race, you are asked to line up according to the pace you expect to run, so I always line up near the the back because I run with the turtles and maintain a pace over 10:00, usually 11:30 - 12:30 when I'm 'racing' (and I use that term loosely!)
But it wasn't that simple yesterday. At least not to those who weren't jockeying for position. Normally, the starting line (at least, in the races I've attended so far) is well marked with not only a strip on the ground, but also flags, an overhead archway, a race clock, etc... but yesterday, that was not the case. And I didn't know this until the race had begun and we were all shuffling toward the starting point. With only a strip on the ground, several of us who were waaayyyy back there found ourselves saying, "Hey, was that the official starting point?" as we stepped on the strip, set our watches and took off. Thankfully, our timing chip recorded what clearly many of us missed: our official starting time!
Notice the clock time and chip time... with a difference between the two, depending on your starting position in a race. Also notice the ages of these top finishers - OMG!!
Note to self: walk over and physically see, step on, check, etc.. the starting line before the race begins!
Lesson #2: This lesson, while less tangible, turned out to be my "a-ha" moment of the day:
"PR" means Personal Record in our running world, but can it also mean "Personal Relationship?"
Yesterday, it did.
As I prepared for the Autumn Rock 'n Run 5K, I did all the things I normally do the morning of a race, but without the usual anxiety, expectations, or nervousness. My focus is on the upcoming 10K, and this was my practice run. Was I selling this race short? Treating it like a step-child? Not caring enough to be stressing? I don't think so, but you know what? I was showing up. Turns out, this relaxed attitude paid off in a big way for me:
I learned that 'PR' can mean so much more than just 'Personal Record.'
You see, as the race began, I found myself thinking about my new bloggie running buddies and your advice, training tips, and upcoming events, as well as Mr. Young (see Wed, Sept 9, 09 post) and his unwavering commitment, and how I was feeling as I steadily moved forward (we turtles move pretty slowly). Before I knew it, I was settled in with a handful of other runners, who became my unofficial running partners for this race:
- Mr. Running Mom who pushed the running stroller as his youngster happily rode along - the pink & brown bag in the bottom told me Mrs. Running Mom was somewhere else in the race, probably up with the gazelles(!).
- Next there was Ms. Boogying Gal in all black who shifted from center to left and back to center several times... she and I stayed nearly side-by-side the entire time.
- Then there was Ms. Tall Running Gal who wore her really cool (brown!) race t-shirt this day (which indicated to me that she might be a newbie - as we newbies have to run a few races before we learn that the awesome cotton race t-shirt is usually too hot to wear in these FL races). I might have been totally wrong about this assumption.....
We all cruised along - making our way through the neighborhood streets, listening to our own music and the occasional band or dj set up on the route. But a little over 2 miles in, things started to change, folks were starting to slow down a bit, walk more than we had, and the tempo changed....
This is when my 'a-ha' moment hit me. I remembered what Tall Mom on the Run said to me recently: "We all finish together." And I thought to myself, "Yes, WE do."
And with that, I looked at my watch and saw that if I took off now, I could finish this race in sub-32:00 (I know, turtle pace, but faster than my previous races), OR I could pay it forward, honoring Tall Mom on the Run's gracious motivation to me (I wonder if the gal being tall had anything to do with my decision? Ha Ha). I chose the latter, looked over to Ms. Tall Running Gal and said, "Come on. We can do this. Let's run together." And even though she had her earbuds in and couldn't really hear me (I'm assuming again!), we did.
We ran that final mile together. We pushed each other. We walked when the other needed to walk. WE ran together. We even exchanged names while we ran. (Ms. TRG = Deanne)
A few minutes later, we crossed the finish line together - tired & sweaty, but together.... Yay us!!!!! And as you can see in the pics, Ms. Boogying Gal finished right along with us. With that, my newest lesson was learned: PR means so much more than just a Personal Record.
It was a great day... new lessons learned, and BONUS: a new friend! :) A few hours later, I received a message on my BlackBerry: Deanne has sent you a friend request on Facebook, with a message attached: Thanks for helping me finish today. OMG!!! I was so surprised and excited: My new race buddy found me online, and took the time to send a message. Wow! To be clear, We helped each other finish. BTW - our official 'chip time' was 36:07, a little less than the clock time you see here. Avg pace: 11:47 - respectable for newbies!
Yes, Tall Mom on the Run, we do all finish together. Thank you all for running with me yesterday, and helping me understand the true meaning of community and PR..... you have made me a stronger runner mentally, and more determined to be a stronger runner physically. Yesterday was OUR finish.... :)
My Thankful Three
Today, I am thankful for:
- The willingness to be open-minded and flexible
- The support and advice of friends w/ more experience
- Moments in time that become something more... (I'm glad to know you, Deanne!)
- (Bonus): My Hubby who rolls out of bed at 5 am on a Saturday w/ me to head out and be my chief cheerleader, photog, and videographer (thanx baby, I love you!)
Happy running, friends!
P.S. - Still felt good after the race and came home to run 4 more (training) miles to finish out my week. Goal: 15 miles Actual: 17 miles