I'm not gonna lie guys, I was actually pretty nervous for this race. Something about it being 2.3 miles more than I had ever run before, and the first race I would be doing by myself left me feeling a lot less confident than I did for my 10K.
When my alarm went off at 5:15AM, I hopped out of bed, grabbed a protein bar, threw on my running clothes and headed for the door.
But not before my 8 year old sister crawled out of bed to give me a good luck hug :)
I drove the 30 minutes it took to get to beautiful downtown San Diego.
The Hot Chocolate 15K is the third race I've done this year (heck yes, I can cross off a 2013 Bucket List item!). I can officially say that the organization for this race was outstanding. And the main reason for that is because of how efficiently everything was communicated.
It was made very clear to us that traffic and parking were going to be a nightmare the morning of the race. They suggested that we plan to arrive significantly earlier than our start time due to this. And because I was informed of this, I didn't mind waiting in the long row of cars to get to a parking spot! It was anticipated.
When we registered for the race, we were asked how long we thought it would take us to finish. Using our projected paces, the race crew organized us into corrals where we would group up to start the race.
We were made aware that each corral would be starting 3 minutes after the one before, to ensure for a smooth run. Again, perfect communication!
Not only could we guess when our actual starting time would be, but the planning paid off. The flow of the starting line (and the entire race) went great! Even as we were waiting, everyone was in great spirits.
Now I mentioned that this was my first race alone, but I quickly found that that wasn't the case.
Running has become a huge source of intimate time with the Lord for me. With worship music pumping me up, and His beautiful creation surrounding me (San Diego and Santa Barbara are not too shabby of places to run, am I right?) it's hard to not be filled with His love.
Everything about this race had me feeling God's presence. And for that, I am thankful.
It was a beautiful reminder that we are never alone.
This race was packed with hills.
And you know what guys? I loved it. I loved the challenge.
Running is really an amazing thing. You get to feel how strong your entire body is. Your chest perfectly pacing those deep breaths that keep you going. Your arms, just the slightest bit tense, briskly moving to keep up with your legs.
And your legs? Man. There's nothing like it. Going up a hill and feeling every muscle from your thigh and hamstring all the way down to the tips of your toes pushing you further and further towards that peak that you're dying to reach.
And knowing that you can stop and walk, but hearing God tell you Just a little farther, darling. You got this.
It's beautiful, that's what it is.
Crossing that finish line and knowing I had just completed my longest and most challenging run to date?
Not to mention, this was waiting for me:
Is that not the cutest/most delicious looking Finisher's Mug?
For those remembering I gave up chocolate for lent, I only had the banana :)
I am so thankful that I have taken up a love for running.
But I want to tell you something, if you're reading this thinking I'm a natural runner, I'm not.
Case and point: this post.
"I'm gonna be real though, if I can do this, anyone can.
I went for 2 runs this past weekend, and I am literally in horrible shape.
I'm talking can't even run a mile straight without stopping to walk.
Total speed with all of the walking is about an 11 minute mile.
Looks like the break from the stress fracture took a toll, huh?
So here goes nothing!"
That was a little over 3 months ago guys.
In 3 months I went from being unable to run a mile straight, finishing at an 11 min mile, to running 9.3 miles straight at a little over a 9 min mile.
It's true, what I said. If I can do this, anyone can.