4 am, my alarm goes off, and I get up and begin my morning pre race routine. Only, because this was my first race, I didn't really know what the pre race routine was yet. After preparing, we all exited the house on that rainy morning. It was still very dark outside, and I had no idea what I was getting into. I had butterflies in my stomach. My biggest fear? Getting lost. Yes, getting lost. I was afraid I wouldn't turn in the right place or that I would somehow take a wrong path. Little did I know there would be 10,000 or so runners around me and that fear would be non-sensical.
My rookie behavior showed through as I got out of the car and began walking toward the start line.
"Excuse me," I say to a couple of fit, experienced looking runners. "But where am I supposed to be? I've never done this before."
The 2 fit (younger) runners looked at each other like, "Is she serious?" But answered, almost mockingly, "Well, over there, where the big start line is. You just line up." And they were on their way; I never saw them again.
I walked over to the start line area, and found my place in the middle of the street (aka the corral area). No one else was lining up. (Oh, did I mention there was still over an hour before it even began??) I learned from this experience, needless to say.
Anyway, as the race took off, I found myself really needing to use the bathroom. I felt like it would pass, because perhaps I was just nervous. Mile 1, I passed the port-a-potties and kept going. I was convinced I could hang on. Mile 2….I slowed a little bit, but kept going. By mile 3, I knew I could not go 10 more miles holding it! So I stopped for the port-a-potty line. Yes. I said Line. I waited my turn, knowing that the clock was ticking (literally). When i finally got in and sat down and "felt better", to my dismay, there was no toilet paper! I had to resort to creativity. And press on. (But I admit, I was self conscious about it the entire rest of the race and endured some jokes about it after the fact.) I finished in just under 3 hours (ok. Literally my time was 2:59:37) But I finished…. And I didn't get lost.
I also learned from this first race experience to ALWAYS take Immodium before every race and make use of the port-a-potties all along the start area 15 minutes prior to race kickoff.
What else have I learned from silly running experiences??
-DO NOT take your brand new dog out for a run before you know how he behaves and he knows you. I made this mistake. I had just gotten the dog I'd always wanted: A weimararner. We changed his name, and on the 2nd day of having him, I decided I wanted to take him for a run. Only the problem came 3/4 of a mile into it. Having never really tripped running, that was not an obstacle I'd considered. Yet this time, I tripped and literally went flying in the air, skidding across the sidewalk. My dog ran off, I was crying, and it took a half hour to chase him down. I was left with a scraped body and pride. And a lesson well learned: wait 'til you know your pet to take him running! (Or perhaps the lesson was Don't trip!)
-Stretching is more important after a run than before. I figured this out through my experience post first half marathon, when bending over to tie my shoes hurt and i walked oddly, as if I'd been horseback riding and my legs were a bit stuck that way.
- On long training runs, I need to pack toilet paper in my water backpack. I learned this lesson the hard way: I was out for a 14 mile run (training for a full marathon), and there were no bathrooms for miles. I could not wait any longer, so I discreetly (as discreet as one can be on a bike path) did what any good runner would do: I fixed the problem.( And left a bit of clothing on the side of the path behind me due to lack of toilet paper…again, I used my creativity).
- If I fall, get up. Keep going. It's funny. (So long as I am not hurt).It's also a great life lesson. I once was running in the dark (as I usually am, actually. 4:30 am runs are lit by the moon only), on a slightly broken up path, and while picking up speed to finish out the last mile strong, I found a part of the broken path with the tip of my shoe and skidded hard (on my side). Apparently I have fallen more than I thought. Anyway, I got up, laughed at myself, and finished strong.
running has taught me much about determination, satisfaction, passion, accomplishment and a love for something I never thought possible. I have also learned to laugh at myself…..And always have toilet paper as one of the running necessities.
(Taken at the Flying Pig Expo)