This weekend I completed my 5th race of 2012. It was a fun race, one I’d do again next year.
Both my son and I participated in the Angels 5k and Fun Run at the Angels Stadium in Anaheim, a race I registered for in January on a whim. Neither of us are big baseball fans but we enjoy a game here or there and with the Angels being our most local team (the Dodgers being our next nearest local team), we fall into the category of the occasional Angel fan.
But don’t tell my brother that. He is a big Angels fan so in his mind, the rest of the family must follow suit. So to him, my son is following in his shadow as the next biggest family Angels fan.
This race had a 7am start time so I was up and prepping around 4:30am. Ugh…that’s just too early for my blood. I changed it up a bit this race and both of us wore matching Angels tee-shirts to run in and show our support for our local team. At first it seemed like a good idea then superstition kicked in and I wondered if I was jinxing my race by not wearing my usual Lululemon running jacket.
I stumbled through the dark of the early morning to prepare my flaxseed 1 minute muffin and my instant coffee while I popped on an episode of Community to keep me company. Though my son was running too, I felt he didn’t need to be up quite so early. Plus I enjoyed the quiet alone time before the hustle of getting to the race.
Since I was up and moving, I decided to throw together dinner. Yeah I know…my overachieving mentality was in overdrive but I was up, I had a crock pot recipe that would be great for dinner so I threw it together and start it up around 5:30am. By this point I was dressed, I had used my foam roller and my breakfast was done. Now it was time to wake the monster man and get him ready.
From this point on the morning was a bit of a mess. Even with all my careful planning the night before, we just couldn’t get out the door without lots of feet dragging and arguing. It turned out that my 6 year old decided this would be a great weekend to pull an attitude and turn his listening off. So we left later than I had hoped to but luckily it was so early that there was hardly any cars on the freeway and we made it to our off-ramp in good time.
That was until we got to our exit and came to a complete stop. A massive line of cars reached back pretty far as other racers and spectators in our same position were all trying to get into the stadium parking lot. Now my nerves were setting in. I hate being late and especially to a race. To keep myself occupied I kept tabs on the cars that were lining up behind us and reminding myself that I’m not as late as them!
Thanks to those organizing the race, once we got off the freeway parking was a snap and everything went smoothly. We even took a moment to snap a picture together wearing our numbers with the large red Angels A behind us.
The morning had that weird chill in the air that signaled a warm day ahead. It was overcast but not cold, just chilly. We brought my son a jacket but it turned out he really didn’t need it. From our parking spot I jogged and stretched my way over to the line out porta-potties for one last pit stop before race time. Unfortunately I wasn’t the only one with this idea because the lines were unbelievably long and the race was due to start in 10 minutes. I’m usually in line and warming up by this point but a visit to the restroom was in need so I sucked it up and missed the gun time.
But I took advantage of that time in line to stretch, bounce around, and keep warm. Once I was able to use the not-too-shabby porta-potty (and by that I mean it wasn’t so bad that I was gagging) I quickly gave my guy a kiss and wished my little man good luck. Then I headed to the start line to begin my race. I was a good 10 minutes behind the run time but thanks to the commemorative timing chip on my shoe and my phone app, I was able to start my own timing when I was ready.
Now for the run itself. It’s very fun and interesting to run through an area of Anaheim I’ve driven through numbers of times. Either going through to go somewhere else or to come to an Angels game, I’ve been down these streets. And here I am now, running along with thousands of other red-shirted fans and friends while the streets are barren and the lights are switched off for us. It’s an eerily cool thing to have command of the streets so early in the morning.
The run had enough turns, a few dips and hills and lots of character to keep us busy. The one down side? Well we’re running on streets. So that means anything in the street normally is still there. Potholes, cracks, manhole covers, and those small, insignificant “road dots” that divide the lanes and seem more annoying than anything when you are in a car. Yeah, those little reflective lane dividers are nothing when you are driving along the road, but when you are running amongst them, WATCH OUT! They could spell a trip to the medic tent when you are done running if you aren’t watching out for them.
Yes that ooey, gooey egg sized bump is my left knee. Seems I was so busy trying to make my way through the families and strollers and walkers I was grouped with due to my late start that I failed to notice one of those small, insignificant reflectors in between the lanes around mile 1.2. Down I went as I slightly toed one and I hit the ground hard. Without much thought, I bounced right back up and kept on running.
Yes, I’m that hard core that I fell, scraped my knee and yet I continued to run as if I had meant to do just that. I also tweaked what is already my weak right ankle but I had in mind that if I stopped it would stiffen up and then I would be in pain the rest of the race. I had a whole 2 miles still to go. So on I ran.
And ran. And ran…and OH MY GOD! I’M RUNNING A RACE AND I’M NOT WALKING!!!!
Here it is people, 5 races into 2012 and I officially ran my first 5k without walking. It was a huge milestone for me, one I didn’t quite wrap my brain around until I was in the passenger seat on my way home from the stadium. This is huge and I was completely in the zone. I ran the complete 3.2 miles (except for a little bit of a slower pace when we came to the end) for the very first time.
The best part of this race is the finish. As we come into the back parking lot of the Angels Stadium, we enter into a tunnel that opens up into the actual in-field. From there we trotted (there was a serious issue of congestion as the two races, the 5k and the Fun Run, converged on this entry point into the stadium) along the wet sandy warning track between the grassy baseball field of the Angels and the dugouts. People were stopping to snap pictures, sit in the dugout and to check out their faces enlarged on the huge Jumbo Tron screen over the left and right outfield seats. It was a very surreal feeling to enter the stadium on the ground level and to make my way through as if I were an Angel player myself.
Sadly, I was there to race, not to snap pictures and stroll long. I hadn’t stopped running since I crossed the start line and I wanted to keep up my excellent pace. But that just wasn’t possible. Too many strollers, kids, families and fans were stopping for their moment of excited iPhone photos sure to be their next Facebook profile picture. I just wanted to run.
And run I did. Once I got out of the stadium I could see the finish line and the throngs of people waiting to watch their loved ones cross over. A handful of little cherubs came bounding along behind me, all wearing their red Angels shirts and running with flushed faces and huge smiles. I couldn’t help but smile myself! It gave me a last ounce of boost and I began a quick spirit. As I came closer, I heard a loud “MAMA!” and there was my son and my guy waving and cheering me on. I crossed that finish line with a watch time of 39:06 (still waiting for the official results from the chip timer) and I began to cry.
I cried out of joy and pain, out of sorrow for my time and out of frustrated for having run the whole damn thing only to have a finish time I wasn’t happy with. See, at this point I hadn’t allow it the fact that I ran the entire race without walking breaks to sink in. I was stuck on the fact that my last 5k time was 35:08 and I had seriously tacked on 4 minutes! I wanted to improve! Damn it…
I got lots of hugs from my boys and I high fived my little one for finishing his own mile race. Then we headed off to the medic tent because I had finally taken a peek at my knee and found my skin had peeled off with my running pants. Ick… I need it to be cleaned before some infection set in.
There was a nice little post-race section with music and games, lots of blown-up bounce houses and slides, booths of all kinds and free samples here and there. Jake got a chance to bound down a sunken ship blow-up slide a few times before we decided to head out of there for home where warm showers awaited.
It was then that it hit me. I was now a runner. I was able to consistently run a 5k without slowing down to a walk once. My time may not be an improvement but my endurance was definitely showing signs of my hard work. There, in the car riding along the 57 freeway back to my guy’s apartment, I broke down with tears of joy.
I am now a runner.