Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Perseverance to Keep Going

This weekend I ran the Northern Lakes 10 Mile Race with my pal Meghan, as I mentioned before. It was a smaller race than I thought it would be, and a place I had never run before. I was excited for the race, as I figured it was a great prep for the Minneapolis Half-Marathon in two weeks, plus it was only $25 and included a dry fit t-shirt, sold!

The race started out in a weird fashion, they said it was "chipped time" but I saw no sign of where my chip would be activated. So, I asked, "where is the starting line?" the response I got was that I should start my watch when the gun goes off, because your chip was only registered at the end of the race. Ummmmm, OK. Folks, that is NOT chipped timing. Chipped time gives accurate time from the second you cross the starting line, to the second you cross the finish. Therefore, I ignored the race officials instructions, and actually told them I thought it was very disorganized that we were just finding this out now, and started my watch when I crossed their "starting line" in order to get a true time.

As the race began, I loved the opportunity to run in a new area I had never seen before, I was going nice and steady, keeping my 11:45-12:15 minute pace. People were passing me, and passing me, and passing me. As we rounded the mile two marker I noticed it,


That's right, of all the Ten Mile Racers, I was running in last place, there was no one in sight. I was all alone, running a course I had never even stepped foot on before. For those of you mulling running a race for the first time, or who think you can't do long mileage races after your first 5K, here I was LIVING YOUR NIGHTMARE. I was dead last, no one was around me, I was running a 12:00 minute mile at this point, and I was left behind. Race officials were no where, it was just me, my i-pod and my Garmin to lead the way back to the finish-- I was a bit freaked out.

I was freaked out, because the roads weren't closed for this course, so randomly I would have to dodge a car. I was freaked out, because although in a beautiful neighborhood, I was on my headphones to keep my lonely self entertained, but there were huge fields and a huge lake, and at anytime, someone could have jumped out and grabbed me and no one would have known. I guess, after running Team Ortho and Twin Cities in Motion races that are put on so well, I expect so much out of a race, that I never thought I would end up in this position.

Luckily, the course was well marked, so I knew where to keep going, and I did, I just kept running, occasionally busting out in song when I got to a great "Glee" tune on my ipod, but I kept running, and I felt good doing it.

Someone told me a few weeks when I told them about my running times, "wow, that's slow." There it was again, that rejection that we non-elite runners fear when we first start. Someone had finally said it, they had told me I was slow. I didn't think twice about the comment though, just looked straight back at them at send, "God didn't give me fast legs, but he gave me the perseverance to keep going."
I had never even thought about this statement before it automatically came out of my mouth in response to that person. But it was true, how many people would give up in my shoes? How many people would say, "I just can't keep up, so I just better not." Not me, not Alexa, I'm a runner. That's right, you heard me,


Soon, I came up to mile six, and I saw her, another runner, not just any runner, but one from this ten mile race. "A small victory," I thought, there is someone else huffing and puffing it out on their own too, we can do this. A few minutes later we both got shewed to run on the other side of the road by the Ramsey County Sheriff, apparently the course was on the other side, how were we to know? We were last.

Then at mile seven, it happened, I passed her, easily too.

Then, around mile eight, I saw a bunch of people who had blown past me earlier in the race, they were struggling, a few steps running, a few steps walking, a few steps running, more steps walking, their pace was blown, but I was feeling great. A passed them and just kept running while they stopped to gasp for air at a water stop.

Then mile nine, the end was so close, as I ran that last mile at a pace I had never done before (9:55-10:30 mile) I felt great. Blowing by people who were could barely keep it together now, and that last half mile I gave it everything I had, sure, this was just a prep for the Minneapolis Half-Marathon, but now it was a pride thing, I wanted to to PR, I had to, PR. Because not only was I not going to be last, not by a long shot anymore, but I wanted to feel I had given it my all.

As I blew through the finish line I clicked my watch (remember, I wanted my real time, not their "chip time"). 1:55:59. I did it, I PRed. And it felt great.

I had Meghan waiting for me at the finish line with encouraging words as I gasped for air, and thought of how good and exhausted I felt at the same time.

What a great race, what a great day.

Meghan and I in our post race glow


Jen, a priorfatgirl said...

love love love the recap! congratulations on your perseverance Alexa!

Cindy said...

This is totally my biggest fear.

Slow and steady wins the race. You are amazing!

Meghan said...

Ummm i was last in my first 10k, to avoid being last just chose big races ; )
Also, Alexa you are 110% a runner and getting to be a fast runner, a really fast runner. You also know important things about running, like what chews and fuel belt to get ;) You also pull off a running skirt and flowered running capri's like no other! Who said you were slow I want to have a chat with them.
I had so much fun doing the race with you!! Cant wait for another long run on saturday!

LutherLiz said...

Congratulations! That is such a wonderful thing you did...and you are NOT slow. At least not from a beginner's standpoint like mine!

Kelly @ Dream. Strive. Succeed. said...

Oh, Alexa, this is such an inspirational post!

I haven't known you long, but I think of you as a runner - because you are! I imagine it must have been terrifying to be out there in an unfamiliar place all alone... but you did it, and you for a PR!

And phooey to the person who said that you were slow upon hearing your pace. You're out there and running. That's more than a lot of people do!

I'm so proud of you, and in awe of you, and thrilled for you! I'm back at jogging 12 minutes out of 40 in a workout and just started running a mile in my workouts. After 12 weeks. (and you give me hope for being able to keep to a 12:00-13:00 pace in my first 5K!)


(I now have a reminder set on my iPhone, so I will be at walking club on June 6!)

CASSIE said...

I love your line "God didn't give me fast legs, but he gave me the perseverance to keep going."
I couldn't agree more. I loved this recap as I've experienced this myself the last time I ran a 10K. Some of the friends I did this with didn't even start the race and others gave up and walked back but I kept going and it was the BEST feeling to finish!!