So, I did in fact run the Heritage Festival 5 miler yesterday. It was, in a word, life-changing. The Flowers didn't come with me, so I was there all alone, with a zillion other runners and spectators. I didn't know what to expect, as I was not that familiar with Fredericksburg, nor the route, and like I said before, I was going to be there alone. Marigold had me scared silly about how long it would take me to get there, so I left home about half an hour earlier than I really needed to. The good thing about doing that is that it left me plenty of time to find my way to the location, find a place to park, pick up my race bib and t-shirt, walk back to the car with my goodies, move my car, stretch, run some pre-race jitters out, move my car again, and finally settle in with the other runners at the start. Bib #67 - my newest favorite number!
On the way to the race, I munched on a tortilla smothered in peanut butter and filled with sliced banana. It was gross (something about the peanut butter/banana combination didn't appeal to me), but I knew I'd need and appreciate the protein later. It turned out to be a perfect breakfast that didn't leave me too full nor hungry during the race.
Throughout the race, I recited my mantra to myself over and over again (especially when another runner would zip past me if I were not even in motion!) "It's about ME, it's not about them." It was a great reminder that I was running the race to prove a point to myself, and not about anyone else's PR or speed.
The race course was lovely and it was a beautiful summer morning, light on humidity and high on sunshiney-loveliness. It was a great day to be alive - it was a great day to run my first 5 miler!
I ran the entire race, save for about four blocks in the fourth mile. My left hip flexor got a little cranky (as it always tends to do) and I walked for less than .25 mile. After speed walking a short distance, I realized that I was awful close to the finish line. It was time to wrap this puppy up!! And so I did. There was a lovely hill just before the finish line, and I've never run up a hill so fast before in my life! I felt this surge of adrenaline and pure bliss come over me and I just felt so good! It was as if everything in me just opened up and I took off! Not exactly like a rocket, but a bit faster than I had previously been running!
It tickled me that I had moved my car to the location that I had - I had no idea when I parked it for the second time that it was on the race route and I saw it just as I approached the finish line. In my fatigue, I caught a glimpse of my car and for the life of me, I wanted to run up and kiss it! I can't describe the feeling, and I suppose it probably reads a bit weird, but it was a nice sight, seeing something I loved so much, while doing something I loved so much.
I finished the race is 1:01:37. Yup, I'm still a tortoise and I'm still okay with that.
In hindsight, I realized that if I hadn't spent that time walking, there's a possibility that I might've finished in just under an hour. But, I suppose that's water under the bridge. I finished it upright and that was always my single goal. Goal accomplished!
After the race, I gave myself a great big bear hug then chowed down on orange slices and gulped water like a fiend. The race organizers gave away awesome door prizes including a $100 GC to Best Buy, but this time, I wasn't one of the lucky winners. Oh well. I was still a winner 'cause I had finished this bad boy!
Here's a picture of runners passing beneath the CSX railway bridge over Caroline Street at the start of yesterday's Heritage Festival 5-Mile Run in Fredericksburg:
Marigold and the Flowers treated me to a lovely 4th of July cookout that afternoon, then we went to Montclair to watch the fireworks.
It was a wonderful Independence day.
1. My health
2. The ability to run and participate in the sport I've grown to love
3. My Flowers
4. Cookouts and fresh corn on the cob