I did, however, have quite an adventure finding Elm Street Park in Bethesda where the race was. I had received instructions on how to get from the metro to the park…something along the times of “take the elevator up from the metro, you’ll be in the intersection of Montgomery and Wisconsin, walk one block, turn left of Elm Street, and you’ll see the race site”…..well…this apparently is not so simple for Kaitlyn.
I realized only after I exited the Metro station that I had no idea whether Elm Street was supposed to be off of Montgomery or Wisconsin. I wandered one way up Wisconsin…no Elm. I wandered the other way down Wisconsin…no Elm. Same on Montgomery..no Elm.
Turns out I had missed Elm all together. I asked some man I saw on the street and he explained to me that I just had to turn down Wisconsin, pass some bank, hello Elm. Well, I won’t go into too many details but I somehow managed to turn the wrong way down Elm and ended up in another park with no sign of a race. EVENTUALLY I found Elm Street Park…but not before thoughts of completely missing my first race ran through my head many times.
Alex met me there, I grabbed my bib, did some stretching, and got set to go. I was feeling good and really anxious.
I positioned myself right in what I judged to be the middle of the pack of runners starting. I knew I did not want to start too quickly, so I didn’t want to tempt myself by starting too close to the front. I got my ipod ready to go, and before I knew it, the horn went off!!!!!!
I crossed the start line what I judged to be about 10-15 seconds after the clock had started. The clock was not facing the starting runners, so I could only guess. I started off at a good, comfortable pace.
One thing that made me feel really comfortable was the variety of runners who appeared to be running this race. I was telling Alex before the start how intimidated I felt; however, when the horn went off and we began running, there were SO MANY RUNNERS going just around my pace (a little faster, a little slower), so I started to feel more confident.
This course was easy: We started with a small loop around a park (probably .4 miles?), then entered DC’s Capital Crescent Trail. We ran one way out on the trail until we reached 1.5 miles, then turned around and ran back, finishing in the exact place where we started. Very easy.
The trail was a really nice place to run. It was mostly shaded, and there was plenty of room for the runners without feeling too cramped. I got into a routine of planting myself a few steps behind someone who was holding a good pace and pacing myself with them for a bit. At one point around the end of mile 2, I was behind a guy wearing a shirt with “I NEVER QUIT” printed on the back. Clever. And I kept that saying in my head for the rest of the race.
As I began the third mile, I was starting to feel tired. It was hot and sunny, and I needed/wanted some water. There were no clocks along the course, so I had nooo idea how long I had been running.
Once I exited the trail and re-appeared back in the park area, I realized that all I had to run to finish was the loop around the little park (that .4 mile loop). I picked up my pace to see if I could squeeze a few seconds off whatever my time was going to be.
.4 miles to goooo! I had just gotten a burst of energy and SPRINTED past that girl in the blue..muahaha
I came up on the three mile marker and one of the top guy finishers was there giving everyone high-fives…I loved that!
I ran down a small incline, and I was on what was probably a 200 meter straightaway going straight for the finish. I could just barely make out the clock in the distance reading that the race was in the 29th minute.
Now, like I mentioned earlier, I tried SO HARD not to go into this race with time expectations. But, secretly, I wanted to break 30 minutes soooooooooo badly. A few months ago, I could barely run one ten minute mile; I am so proud of the fact that I can now run THREE…and to run 3.1 in LESS than 10 min/mile pace would be unreal (for me).
I PICKED UP the pace. I wanted that 29:XX finishing time. As I was running my hardest towards the finish line, I was trying to figure the likelihood of reaching my goal. Since I crossed the starting line approximately 10 seconds after the clock started, I just need to cross the finish line before the clock reached 30:10:00.
At this point, everything was a blur….I push as hard as I could and I stomped on that finish line so hard with my foot to make that finish count.
I still wasn’t sure if I’d reached my goal…but my immediate thought was: neeeeeed waterrrrrrrr!
During the last .5 miles I’d started getting kind of light headed (not enough pre-race water). Before the race I had spotted a table filled with water bottles for runners, so I bee-lined it to that table, grabbed my water, and sat down. I was absolutely covered in sweat, hot, and thirsty. I had no idea where Alex was, but figured he was hanging out in the area and had seen the finish, so he’d find me.
He did. We talked about the race briefly, and I learned that he had been texting my mom as I was running. At some point in there, an announcement was made that official times thus far were being posted by one of the bib pick up tables. We went over and I made my way through crowd of people to the results list to look for my name……
BAM! I did it! Sooooooo close…………..29:49!!!
My “gun time” was exactly 30:00…so for a second I thought that I had soooo narrowly missed out on my goal. But, it was confirmed that my official time is indeed 29:49.
I was THRILLED with this. I couldn’t have been happier (except maybe if this time had gotten me first place female? haha…)
I really cannot believe how far I have come in the past few months.
I began running on a regular basis in October. I ran my first full mile in years in November. I broke my PDR of 2.0 miles in January. And now, I’ve completed something I honestly never thought I would be able too.
Fortunately I planned ahead and signed up for a second 5K next Saturday, so I’ve already got a second race to look forward too
I now believe, more than ever, that ANYONE can be a runner. It just takes a hell of a lot of hard work and mental strength.
Thanks so much to Alex for being my photographer and supporter for the day