I ran my first 5K on a whim. A whim which took several days to decide upon, but a whim nonetheless. It came about when I saw a flyer for the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure in a Starbuck’s shop. I picked it up with a fleeting thought—“maybe I should do this.” After all, 5K is only 3.1 miles and I had been running six or more miles regularly on the treadmill, not to mention my running stints in Bath and London.
At first I tried to talk my sister into running with me, on the theory that “it’s only 3.1 miles.” But she wasn’t really interested in running. So, after a few days of carrying the brochure around, I bit the bullet and signed myself up.
Of course, the Race for the Cure doesn’t just involve running—it is also a fundraiser for breast cancer. Asking for donations was actually far more of a traumatic concept to me than running the race! But I wanted to do it right, so as well as obtaining generous contributions from myself, my mother, and my sister, I put some effort into soliciting donations from friends and coworkers. In the end, I think I raised about $500, maybe more.
On the day of the race, a Saturday in June, my mother drove me down to Seattle for the run. It started and ended at Safeco Field. We parked in a nearby pay lot (no free parking in Seattle), and since neither my mother nor I were yet indoctrinated into the race mentality, she waited for me in the car while I went to check in and run the race.
Race for the Cure has several different race categories—survivors, women only, co-ed, and walking. I had signed up for the co-ed race, which I think is the most popular, except for the walking. Many of the runners and walkers wore not only the race t-shirt, but various costumes and accessories, such as pink boas or team shirts. The whole area was swarming with people, buzzing with the adrenaline of the race.
The starting area was divided up with pace signs to help the faster runners take off without the slower ones interfering. I positioned myself somewhere been the nine and ten minute mile signs. I really had no idea how long it would take me to run the race, but I was hoping to be somewhere around 30 minutes. After all, I could average a ten-minute mile on the treadmill even with a mile of walking!
The race course took us northward and through the viaduct, turning halfway and following a similar route back. Despite a few setbacks (such as dropping my ipod), I struck a good pace and selected a runner a bit ahead of me as a pace person to follow. Before I knew it (a mile and a half later) we were making the turn and heading south again. Then I crossed the finish line and ripped the tag off my race number to hand it in.
Since I was a novice, I had neglected to watch the time clock as I finished, so I had no idea of my official time. From my watch, I was pretty sure that it was no more than 30 or 31 minutes. Later, when the results were available on the website, I was happy to learn that I was actually under 30 minutes, at 29:19.
I also experienced my first encounter with post-race food. Actually, this race is one of the more lavish. In addition to the de rigeur bottles of water, there were trays of cookies, muffins, bagels and other yummy treats. (At my next race, I would search in vain for the cookies amongst the bananas and apples offered!) I ate a frosted cookie, then took two more (one for me and one for mother) and headed back to the car.
After all the hoopla of the race, I sort of regretted letting mother sit in the car instead of coming in to watch. So we tried to make up for it a little bit by picking up the camera at home and taking “race photos” on the porch!