Saturday morning, the morning of the race, came way too quickly. I’d tried to get good sleep the night before, but woke up a few times in the early morning. I dreamed that I forgot something important and necessary to complete the race.
Poor husband and I were literally grumbling and whining during the drive to the event. I’d asked him months ago to come and take pictures of us…I just don’t think he had any concept of how early this would be occurring.
The worst part was waking up to discover that the previous night’s overcast weather was now a “delightful” cold wet mist. I brought a rain slack, but couldn’t see myself running in it, since I hadn’t trained in it.
Getting to the field, hearing music, and announcements, I began to feel the excitement. Despite that almost everyone was cowering near the gym/locker room area.
I found my friend, and we decided to go ahead and walk a few quick laps around the track. I was afraid of having a “cold” start especially with the cold rainy mist.
Then, we saw where we could have a name written on our arms in permanent marker. One of the coolest things about this race, the reason that we chose it, is its important cause. Freedom 424 arose after the founder discovered that a girl’s “company” could be purchased for $24. It was thought that $24 could buy a girl one night of freedom, one night of staying some place safe, where she could hear the gospel, feel love, and share how she could get out of her lifestyle of forced sexual slavery. This organization discovered that the best way to raise that money would be to engage people in races. Each participant could run with the name of a survivor on their arm, to pray for her, to dedicate the race to her, to buy one night of freedom for other girls just like her. Many safe houses have been created in those overseas locations (and in the US) where Freedom 424 works.
The volunteer approached me to ask which name I wanted (looking down at her mobile device). I asked her to give me one that no one else had picked for the day. She gave me “Maria.”
Right before the race they called everyone together for a quick announcement. Sara, a sex traffic survivor from the US was there to share a quick word…saying how incredible it was when people ran with her name on their arms last year. We lifted our arms with the adorned names, and prayed together that God would break free the captives.
Then we walked over the beginning of the race. They had volunteers with signs to help organize everyone based on their running time…my friend and I got in line at the 10 minute mile sign (as it was the last one listed). However, I knew I was closer to a 15 minute mile.
When the gun sounded my friend and I quickly lost each other. This wasn’t a surprise since her pace would be much closer to 10 minute/mile.
It was cool to be caught up in the crowd, of everyone running around me. This made it less scary when I discovered the rough inclines that would become the theme of this race course!
The most difficult chunks for me where at mile mark 1.5 till 2.25. At that point we were just about to turn around, and it was difficult to see people returned and waiting for your own turn around point to come. Plus, the return way had a slow yet drawn out incline. At this point there were less people around me, and all of them were walking…most of them were walking at a faster pace that I was jogging. Part of me was wondering what the point even was, why didn’t I just walk? Instead, I argued with myself…just one more step, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, you’re so close! I challenged myself to at least jog further than I had previously in training (2.25), and then it was just about teasing myself to mile mark 2.5.
Once I had less than a mile to run I knew I’d be able to finish. Thinking about that while jogging I began to tear up, in thankfulness of what God had allowed me to accomplish. This combined with one last massive hill led to my breathing becoming very shallow. So the last .1 of a mile I was trying to concentrate so as not to begin to hyperventilate.
Once I reached the track my best friend showed back up to jog the rest of it back with me! I was so touched by her encouragement, care, and faithfulness…to help see me accomplish my goal! I panicked a minute when I first saw her, seeing the walkers around me suddenly sprint in. I thought she was asking me to give a last burst in…and with my inability to breath deeply I couldn’t do it. I chugged like the train that I was, over the ramp, under the finish line banner.
I think I would have been more excited, if those breaths were excruciating at that point. I tried walking a little further to help recover better. I walked to the refreshment stand with fruit and water. I couldn’t manage the drink the water in between my shallow gasps. Husband finally recommended that I take a deep breath in, and then slowly release it. Man did my lungs seem to ache!
We didn’t stay for the end ceremony, as my friend needed to get back to her baby, and my husband was interested in leaving before there was traffic. I hobbled to the car, surprised that I wasn’t more sore…knowing I’d feel it in the next few days.
Luckily, the rain had subsided during the race, but it was picking back up again as we left. One thing that was disappointing to compared to the color run we did in April was the lack of energy for this race. Some of that was the weather, but the race seemed to be missing some of the faces that I would have expected from last year’s race. I remember seeing everyone posting pictures to their Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook’s after last year’s events…but I’ve barely seen anything this year. I spoke with a few friends who said that the race completely bypassed them, so maybe there was some different in advertising this year? I don’t have any sort of concept to be able to compare the amount of runners since I was not involved in the event last year.
One thing I will say is that the organization was superb! My friend had a problem with her registration…that she only discovered the day before the race with the realization she had not received any emails. It had turned out that she’d donated instead of registering. She emailed, and then I showed up to pick up our packets. In mentioning the situation to a volunteer she asked (what I assumed to be a supervisor) and he turned and said my friend’s name. I said “yes” to which he offered his hand out, shook mine, and introduced himself. :0) It was stress free and simple to get some of those problems sorted out!
Later that evening our times were posted. (I’m still hoping the pictures will be posted somewhere…even if I was a beet red tomato!)
My official time was 47: 28.7, my time back from the female who finished first was 27: 57.4, with a pace of 15:19 min/mile. I ranked 834/1028…not too shabby! I was impressed that I finished, that was my goal…in the future I’ll work on my pace ;0). My friend was even able to finish around her goal of 30 minutes placing as 373/1028. I was so proud of her pace of 10:12 min/mile! (She kicked butt consistently at training this summer).
Something that has been neat, is even a few days later I don’t feel as terrible as I did after walking the other 5k! My upper thighs have been in pain, but not so much that I couldn’t move.
So in the future, more 5k’s and trainings are a must! I’m hoping to create a new plan on myself that focuses on picking up the pace, and then continuing that quicker pace on longer runs. Also, I’m creating a cool plague to hang my bibs and future medals on.
God is so incredibly faithful!!!