Since I ran my half marathon in May, I haven't been running that consistently. Or that far. So I've been trying to find opportunities to gain consistency and keep pushing myself until the end of the year. About a month ago, my coworker Renee told me about a 10K that she wanted to do, which would be her first. I signed up and spent the next month trying to get to a point where I could run 6 miles again.
When the morning came, I was excited. And nervous. I had no idea how it was going to go. Normally, I go into races with a time goal in mind. Not this time. I was just concerned about running the whole thing.
The race was the Run for Remembrance 10K, which benefits Remembering the Brave - an organization that honors the memory of our fallen soldiers. The morning was cold - temperature dropping by the minute and wind gusts piercing everybody at the starting line. It began with the organizer saying a few heartfelt words, a moment of silence, and the countdown.
Mile 1 was considerably easy - nothing special. I usually start races too fast, so I made sure I kept a pace that I could maintain for a while. We looped around a building through a park.
Mile 2 was the same. Except I was already starting to get tired. Not a good sign not even 1/3 of the way into the race. But this part was flat, so I just focused on trudging along. I looked up to this ridge in the distance on my left and saw the lead runner on top.
Mile 3 was a little ridiculous. We rounded through the starting area where a few soldiers made a human gate for us to run through. The course took us across a grassy field that felt like running through sand. Then we had to climb a tough hill for about .2 miles that took us to the top of the ridge. Once on top of the ridge, the view was great. Swampy wetlands to my right, the Denver skyline in the distance to the left. Once I caught my breath, I could start to enjoy it.
Mile 4 was pretty good. Flat. Gravel. Just focused on going. Not stopping. By the end of this mile, I started feeling really good. I caught a second wind that felt great. We ran down a hill off the ridge, passed a dog park, and back onto a sidewalk.
Mile 5 was the hardest of the race, but since I caught my second wind, I could make it without dying. Instead of the big hill earlier, this was a slight uphill that lasted about .75 mile. As I was going up, people were passing me on the way back of a small out-and-back portion of the course. All I could think about was getting to the turnaround so I could go downhill. Finally got there, and started the home stretch.
Mile 6 was starting to get a little painful. I still felt ok, but my legs and feet started to hurt. My body is not used to running this far, so I was paying for it a little in the end. The distance between runners was expanding, so this was the only stretch of the race that I was really alone.
The Finish was across that grassy field again, but this time it felt easier. Perhaps that was because in just a few hundred yards, I could stop running. I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face, caught my breath, then grabbed a water. A few minutes later, I got to watch Renee cross the finish line and her excitement was priceless. She completed her first 10K and hit the goals she set for herself.
It was my slowest 10K, but I wasn't expecting a whole lot out of this one. I just wanted to use it as a challenge to keep getting back on track. I just wanted to see if I could make it the whole way. I just wanted to enjoy a fun race.
I just wanted to run.