Labor Day weekend definitely did not disappoint! It was a great weekend, full of many “firsts!” Back in the beginning of June, I was ready to tackle a new challenge. I had asked a couple friends of mine, Ally and Laura, if they’d be willing to train for and run a race with me. They agreed and we decided upon a 10k (6.2 miles). We chose a 10k as our distance because a 5k (3.1 miles) was far too easy of a goal. If I ran for just a couple of weeks, I could run a 5k with no problem. We wanted something that would be challenging, but not too challenging like a half marathon…so, alas, 10k it was!
Ally’s co-worker is an avid runner, so he graciously wrote down a training plan for us to follow over the course of the next 12 weeks. At the beginning, we were all excited to run this race. The temperatures were unusually cool in June and we were holding each other accountable weekly with our distance. Before training for this race, the most I had ever run was 3 miles. Each day, I was able to push myself a little bit more. I loved working toward a goal and pushing myself to get there and not only that, but being able to do it alongside some great girls was even better!
July was hot, humid, steamy…miserable, to say the least. I quickly learned that if I didn’t get an early morning run in then I wouldn’t be running that day. I just couldn’t handle the humidity as I’d run in the evenings. In mid-July, Alyson (goes by Aly, but for the sake of preventing confusion, we’ll go by her full name) decided to join us! I was excited to add one more girl to the mix! Throughout the entire 12 weeks of training, it was interesting to see the dynamic of how each of us encouraged each other on our more difficult running days. On a day my body was telling me “no, please slow down,” Alyson would continue to push me farther. On the days Laura started to fall behind, we’d help her get her mind back into it. On the days our legs would cramp in weird places, Alyson would stretch us out. On the days we needed good conversation, Ally was there to talk through things. We all had different characteristics that helped each of us continue to press onward in our training together!
Fast forward to September 2nd. It was race day! Our race was in Blue Springs, MO which was about an hour and a half away from Columbia. We stayed in a hotel room together and were able to bond over dinner prior to our race. I was surprised with how many jitters and butterflies I had that day as I pulled into the parking lot. The competitor in me wasn’t dead after all! On one hand, I was super nervous for what I was about to do, but on the other hand, I was raring to go! The girls also had their own reservations for what was in store. Before we knew it, the race had begun. The race was easy and difficult for me at the same time. Alyson and I kept a pretty good pace together while Ally and Laura ran together, too. The rough patch came at the end of the run….a series of hills. Alyson and I kept pressing onward. The goal I had made with myself was to finish the race in around an hour (within a minute or two). At the last 100 feet, Alyson and I sprinted as fast as we could to the finish line! I finished within my goal of 1:01:44! I can’t begin to tell you how accomplished I felt not only completing my first race and 10k, but also finishing within my goal! I was on a high because I knew that if I could train for and complete a 10k, I could complete anything else I set my mind to! I used to be that girl that would make excuses for everything (I sometimes still struggle with that) but after completing this race, I’ve realized that I must throw those excuses out the window!
The real MVPs, though, goes to both Ally and Laura! Despite some discouraging runs they had prior to the race and the difficulty they experienced during the race, they both hung on, pushed themselves, even to the point of vomiting, and still finished the race! I can’t even begin to explain how excited and proud I was of them! I’m so thankful that all three of these girls were able to be a part of this experience with me!
As I look back at this past weekend, I’m thankful for the FIRSTS that I experienced: running a race, completing a race within my goal, placing 3rd in my age division and doing all of this with some really great girls! I’m looking forward to what challenges are ahead!