Takeaways from my first real race:
- Align personal goals with a higher purpose. There are some folks who run a 5K every morning in the gym, so participating in an organized race certainly wasn't necessary to meet my goal, but knowing that proceeds from the race (registration fees, donations, etc.) would go toward supporting the work of Community Options, Inc. definitely set a positive tone for this run. It helped remind me that doing this wasn't just about meeting a personal goal and becoming more active, but that through those aims, I could also contribute to something greater than myself. By showing up on a cold, rainy day, we made a statement to the organization, the volunteers, the communities served and the onlookers that something mattered on that day. For me, it might have just been the personal victory of finishing a 5K, but for all the folks who poured energy into organizing and coordinating this race to raise funds for a mission, it was their cause. I'm glad that we didn't let their work go to waste.
- So what if it's only 3.1 miles? There's nothing wrong with celebrating goals even if they don't seem like much to other people. I happily ignored the marathoners or anybody who gave me a condescending attitude about running a 5K because it was a big deal to me and therefore, it was a big deal. Period. I surrounded myself with people who understood that running 3.1 miles is quite a feat for a girl who barely believes in running to catch a train and would be happy to celebrate my achievement, regardless of what they had or hadn't achieved themselves.
- Pick the right running mate. Mr. Forever was the obvious choice as my running mate for this race because it's a Valentine's Day-themed race (the official T-shirts say "Available" or "Unavailable" on the back- how cute?), but he was also a great choice because he would not let me cop out no matter how little I had trained or how much I whined about not feeling ready. I realized that when it comes to challenges like this, I need to buddy up with somebody who is going to call me out when I'm slacking, who genuinely believes in me and who is unafraid of the challenge themselves (that way they're not also looking for any excuse to back out!).
- The high-tech winter gear is totally optional. Mr. Forever did just fine running in regular sweats over his basketball shorts and a hoodie, and there were plenty of other folks decked out in regular attire as well. I don't regret investing in the fancy stuff because feeling like I had the right "equipment" and looking the part motivated me to train in the cold and made me feel less out-of-place at the starting line, but it's nice to know I didn't really need it. Plus, I'm so in love with my Saucony DryLete Sportops that I almost don't want the weather to warm up so I don't have to stop wearing them when I run.
- It's better to have a bad race than to have no race at all. While I met (and exceeded!) my personal race time goal, I definitely did not have a photo finish. I didn't come in last but my time would make most runners snort derisively. Who cares? The point is, I did it! Now I have a race under my belt and a personal best to beat, both things I still wouldn't have if I'd been holding off until I felt "ready." There's a reason Nike says "Just Do It". You may never feel ready, but you can feel accomplished.
Image courtesy of and learn more about Cupid's Chase here.