This weekend I ran my first 5k after almost a year of no running due to an injury. After starting back in November to run with my group again, I began to miss races. After planning to run 12 races in 2012 and doing just that, it’s in my blood now. All the prep work and the anticipation. The nerves and the excitement.
So I signed up for my first race and then began the long wait for the start line. On the morning of, I woke up full of nerves. Would my heel hurt? Would I be able to run the whole thing? Should I walk/run it? Oh man…
But I had my faithful team of husband and son behind me 100%. My son was signed up to run his own race, too. So we packed a bag full of snacks and goodies to munch on in between races, I packed some clothes to change into and we hit the road before 7am.
The Southern California Half Marathon and 5k has a long standing history of putting on great races. My husband, in all his years running, had run with this group before. He was confident it would be a good race. And he was right. Parking was easy and there were a lot of signs posted to help guide us to the start line. The city was properly shut down so that there was a lot of traffic along the race course.
And man were there A LOT of people! The start line was swimming with heads of people jumping around and waiting to start. It was a bit chilly but warm enough in the sun. I was nervous as the start time got closer. I picked my running bracket of 11:30-12:30 figuring it was a good place to be for my fitness level.
The guys stayed with me through the anthem and then retreated to the sidewalk to watch me take off. When the crowd started to move, I started all my tech (Nike+, Polar Beat) but realized a little late that it only a false start. We were only walking up to the start line. Oh well. No one can claim I wasn’t ready!
When the crowd was properly gathered together like sardines, the horn was blown and we took off, 5k runners on one side and the half marathoners on the other. Everything was really well marked and no mistakes could be made as to which way to go. There was a water station at 1.5 miles and lots of supports along the way. It was a smooth, easy run with no hills and little, if any, inclines. We ran through a neighborhood that was quite and serene with large roads and lots of space. One lane was blocked off for us.
As for me, my run started off slow. My right calf was tight for no good reason. And it wouldn’t loosen up so I had to push through while a little voice at the back of my mind reminded me to pay attention to my heel and to stop if I felt a tug. The first mile was tough as I just couldn’t shake the tightness I was fighting that started in my right calf and ended up in both. But I pushed along and found that I was still running at the first mile marker and that my time was under 12 minutes! This fueled me on and I pushed to continue running.
When I hit 2.5 miles I was pushing along at a slower pace but still running without walking. This is always a huge deal to me! At the end of 2012 I was running all my races without walking at all and I had no expectations to do the same with this race. But as I ran further and found myself still going, I pushed myself to finish running. There was a point towards the end that had us round a corner. At that moment I saw my car and knew I was close to the end. My speed increased as I started to hustle to the finish line and I began looking for my little family. And there they were! Which made me run faster.
Overall, I’m very happy with my results and with my running. My pace was great and I finished better than I expected for a first race out. Later that day I did have some lower back pains and my legs were so so tight but overall I was very happy with the race.
As for my little guy, he had a good two hour wait after my race before he could run his so we took advantage of the wonderful food court offered to racers. There were bagels and pizza and cookies and fruit and nachos and coffee. I was so impressed at how much was offered and how easy it was to access it. No long lines and no crowds. There were a lot of things to see and do while we waited for the kids fun run to begin including watching the half marathoners come in from their 13.1 jaunt around the neighborhood.
The only issue we ended up having was the disorganization around the kids run. It took us several attempts to find someone with some knowledge of the fun run and where it would start off. And each person we asked was kind but simply said “Hummm, I should know this but I don’t.” It was frustrating, to say the least. In the end we found another mom with a little one wearing a bib and we came together under the same concern that we couldn’t find anyone who knew where the kids were starting. But sooner or later we found more little runners and joined them. There really wasn’t a “start” line and instead the kids just grouped together and waited for the horn.
What I thought was a 1k Fun Run turned out to be a 1 MILE kids run. So my little runner had to traverse the lake community and over a bridge to get his medal. Both the husband and I acknowledged that it wasn’t unusual for the fun run portion of the day to be lacking organization because they ALL seem to be that way. The fun run tends to feel like a last minute idea. And this was no exception. In the end the little mister got his medal and finished 12th of 35 with a time of 8:16! Little speedy!
Our overall feeling about this race was that it was well organized (for the most part), an easy course, lots of to, and worth it. We’d come back again in 2015 to run it again. Thanks to the city of Irvine and the Woodridge community for putting on a fabulous race.