Its official – I’ve completed my first race in my preparation to run my first half marathon! Yesterday, Preston and I ran the Jaguar 5K, which is an annual race to help raise funds for school athletics at Falls Church High School. Although I’ve participated in this race in the past, I’ve never trained to run it like I did this year.
This course isn’t the greatest for anybody looking for a PR. Because the course starts behind the school in the parking lot, takes you through the immediate neighborhood, and ends with a lap around the school track, the course is full of lots of turns and includes a steep hill at about the halfway point. Preston and I both knew this after last year’s Jaguar 5K, but arrived race morning ready to face the challenge!
We met up with several of my coworkers at the start line, and many others were scattered along the course route working as volunteers. Nearly three quarters of the Social Studies department either ran/walked the race or volunteered. Because part of the route reverses earlier parts, I saw some of my fellow department members twice. Seeing them was so encouraging, especially as they cheered me on by name.
My goal had been to run the entire race, only stopping to walk through the water station just beyond the halfway point. Unfortunately, the steep hill got the best of me and I had to briefly walk three times. I’m proud that I made it to the hill without walking first, attempted to run the hill, but about halfway up found myself needing to walk the second half of it. But I started running again once I reached the top of the hill. I walked briefly at two other points just long enough to catch my breath.
Preston finished well ahead of me, with a time of 23:42. By the time I made it to the track, he was standing at the edge of the football field, and ran the last .2 miles alongside me. His encouragement, along with one of my coworkers standing just in front of the finish line, gave me the final drive I needed to slightly pick up my speed as I neared the finish line. My time was 32:24. Although not what I had hoped for, I’m still proud of all I’ve done in the past six weeks to get to where I am now.
Shortly after I finished, one of my coworkers (a male in his 50s) walked up to me and thanked me for being his pacer during the race. Apparently as we started, he had chosen to follow my lead and try to stay at my pace throughout the race. When I ran, he ran. When I walked, he walked. I had no idea he was doing this throughout the course, but to have been told this afterwards only furthered my feeling of accomplishment. His words will only fuel my motivation as I continue training and preparing for Disney World in January.
At the end of any race, every participant always looks forward to the recovery food and drinks. With this being a fundraising race for high school athletics, what teenager wouldn’t love refueling with pizza at 9:00 in the morning?
Overall, I would consider the Jaguar 5K to be a successful first race in my journey towards my first half marathon. As I mentioned in Friday’s post, I will be training and running my races in support of a charity through use of the Charity Miles app on my phone. Yesterday, I was able to raise $0.75 for Achilles International, which is an organization devoted to helping the disabled be able to participate in mainstream athletic activities.