The very first 5K I did was at a triathlon expo several years back. I don’t know why I thought it would be a smart idea to sign up for my first 5K event at a location where there were bound to be people much more athletic and experienced than me. As I got to the registration area, I noticed tons of very athletic looking people in serious running gear – a bit of a different look than my old sweats and t-shirt. Some of them were talking about minimalist shoes, some talking about barefoot running, some talking about compression socks – I stood there with my friend thinking “what the heck are they talking about?!”
There were only about 45 people racing, and of course everyone finished incredibly fast. I, on the otherhand, did not finish fast. I finished in my typical ‘slow and steady’ fashion. So slow, in fact, that I got lost at one point on the 2 loop course because the person directing the turn had left by my 2nd loop. I missed the turn and went straight, and as I started running up stairs (yep, stairs) a minute later, I thought... “Hmm, this doesn’t seem right.”
Luckily I had enough sense to turn around and figure out where to go. I finished in second to last place, only 10 seconds in front of a woman who was at least 30 to 40 years older than me.
Did I feel scared before the run? Um, yes! Overwhelmed during the run? Yep. Did I finish proud of myself, despite coming in 2nd to last? You better believe it.
I wanted to share this story because one of our rock star
2012 Challenge participants is nervous about tackling one of their February challenges – signing up for a 5K. She is doing amazing in the 2012 Challenge
, and is definitely one of our top competitors. And I know there are others out there who might feel a little nervous and intimidated about road races.
Don’t let being scared of an event deter you from tackling it – I know anyone out there can do a road race, triathlon, cycling event – anything if they put their mind (and body) to it! And remember - not every race is going to go as smoothly as you’d like it to. You may have an off day, run slower, feel sick to your stomach, or experience any number of setbacks. Doesn’t change the fact that you’re there, putting effort into accomplishing something great. You may not finish in a time you’d like or finish ahead of the crowd – but you are still finishing.
So go out there and find a 5K. And if you end up surrounded by some serious athletes who just lapped you, finding yourself running up a set of stairs, and barely beating out someone 40 years older than you – just take a deep breath, calm yourself down, and smile. I look back on that first 5k with a fond memory and a laugh. It certainly makes for a great story, and only makes my successes since then that much sweeter.
Good luck to all newbies reading this! If you’re an experienced runner or triathlete, please share some words of motivation in the comments section to help out our readers who may be nervous about completing their first road race!