I finished . . .

I finished . . .

Today was the big day, the day of my second 5K race.

I woke up feeling good, nerves free and excited to tackle my second race. I’m happy to say I was granted my wish . . .  completely blue skies with temperatures climbing into the 40s by the time the 12 p.m. race began. Although there was sunshine, snow still lined the streets that took us the 3.1 miles. It was pretty running with a blanket of white surrounding us.

Jason took off for work around 8 a.m. kissing me good bye, wishing me good luck and telling me to have fun. After watching him drive away and Lucy letting me know she was ready to go back inside, I felt completely relaxed. I had about 3 hours to kill before I had to get ready. I had some breakfast, and well, I put on my running gear because I was so excited.

The hours started to tick away, leaving only minutes until I had to get everything together. I am happy to say the nerves were still gone. I got Jason’s MP3 player ready with the playlist he made me for my first 5K and then finished putting the last layer of clothing on, before putting on my running belt, and was out the door with a smile on my face.

Today I had to drive myself to the race because Jason was working. It felt good to make that drive. It felt good to be independent. I arrived at the Renaissance Arts Center  and Theatre just a few minutes later and found a parking spot. As I climbed out of the car I saw some of the runners stretching, others doing short sprints getting their bodies ready for the race.

I checked my phone one last time before I zipped my running belt close to after the race. I had a good luck message from my mom. I was ready.

There were only 63 runners for the KingsportARTS Paint the Town 5k. The runners ranged in age from youngsters to older men and women. There was even a cute puppy that joined its owner in the race. (I wish I knew, I would have brought Lucy with me. She definitely would have helped with the outcome.)

The same feeling consumed me. The same feeling of “you did this by yourself, be proud.” I stood amongst friends chatting with each other and family members getting each other ready for the race.

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I stood behind a few rows of people from the starting line. After a brief message from the organizer of the race, the countdown began for the race to begin.

As the clock struck 12, the runners in front of me picked up their feet and before I knew it I was doing the same thing.

I don’t know if it was the excitement that I was finally running or the adrenaline you get when you’re around other runners, but my speed was pretty fast as we started running on Yadkin Street on the left side of the Renaissance Arts Center and Theatre. I started to slow down my speed once we turned onto Oak Street. As I rounded Forest Street I felt as if I had my stride in check. It must have been a pretty slow stride because a lot of other runners were passing me.

With that said, I felt good. I was outdoors, the sun was shining and I was listening to some great music.

As we made our way to Myrtle Street my body was telling me to slow down. I slowed down to my first walk of the race.

The 17 days of not running caught up with me. The 4 to 5 miles my body got used to running on a weekly basis was no longer the case. I had to listen to my body. I picked my speed back up and then got hit with a hill on Catawba Street and got slowed down to a walk once again.

By this point I was giving myself pep talks.

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I managed to pick up my speed once again and ran almost the entire distance of Center Street before my body couldn’t take the hill anymore.

The route took us along the same roads until we hit Oak Street to make our way back to the beginning point on Yadkin Street.

Unfortunately Oak Street was where I had a mishap. The cop who was standing at this point was talking to someone and didn’t see me go by to direct me down this street instead of continuing along the same route we took the lap before. Fortunately I had a feeling something was wrong and decided to turn around. I rounded the corner onto Oak Street and saw the finish line in the distance.

I crossed the finish line two minutes past my first race’s time. I was hoping I would beat my last time.

Today’s race had its ups and downs. I was frustrated and a little disappointed by the time the race was over. After I grabbed some water and a banana I looked at my phone and saw a message from Jason nine minutes before the race began “Good luck baby, I love you.” That made me smile before I shared “Well good news is I finished.” His response, “All that matters.”

After I left and returned home I became emotional. I became emotional because I know what I am capable of and I didn’t meet my own expectations . . . to finish the race without any walking.

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Nearly all runners know the voice in their heads that tells them to back off when the going gets tough. Part of training is to help you get better at ignoring this voice and continuing to push even though the voice gets louder and louder as you get more and more fatigued . . . Don’t hope that the race feels easy. Expect it to be hard and know that you’re going to have to repeatedly challenge yourself to ignore the voice in your head that wants you to slow down.

After talking with Jason later this afternoon it really hit home when he told me how proud he was of me.

Bottom line, I ran in a race today. Yes it wasn’t a pretty race. Yes I struggled more than I like to admit. But I finished the race 34th out of 63, 15th out of 36 overall female and 7th out of 12 in my age group for women.

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The lesson learned today . . . even if it’s a 5K you still need to train. The bigger lesson . . . I’m not ready to run races in the winter. A very unpredictable winter. A winter that started off manageable turned into a frigid cold February. The only thing that kept me from training for 17 days was the bitter cold, below freezing temperatures, and the snow and ice on the ground. When you no longer have a gym membership to run on the treadmill you rely on the forecast for outdoor running.

With that said, I ran today despite the long time of no training.

The good news . . . Jason lifted my spirits. His words made me cry, yes the good tears. Then later today text messages back and forth from my mom started the water works again. Sometimes you just need to get out of your own thoughts and listen to other people’s words. Words you were telling yourself, but having a hard time believing.

We definitely are our own worst critics. But once we get out of our thoughts, it’s amazing how much positive energy runs through your body again.

I’m happy to say I have already found my next race, a race in May. Yes, May when I know the temperatures should be bearable and the training should be limitless.

Today’s experience did not detour me, but gave me the determination to run another one.

First 5K in the books!

This morning started off kind of rocky as my nerves completely took hold of me and would not let go.

Although my alarm was set for 6:15, I woke up for the first time at 4:30 and every 30 minutes or so thereafter.

Anxious was an understatement. I was afraid my alarm was not going to wake me up. I was nervous about my first race.

You would think my nerves would settle a little when I took Lucy outside this morning and saw there was no snow on the ground. Yesterday the meteorologists were predicting a 70 percent chance of snow this morning.

It was, on the other hand, quite wet from the rain. Nonetheless, with overcast skies it was in the 30s and bitter cold.

I’m so thankful Jason and I went to the store yesterday and picked up an Under Armour sweatshirt and beanie hat for me to wear today. It’s amazing how warm those two items kept me.

Before walking out the door to go to the race, I put on two more layers of clothes. Good thinking on Jason’s part. Considering how cold it was this morning, with all the layers and having my entire head covered including my ears, I was as comfortable as I was going to get.

We arrived at Meadowview Convention Center 10 minutes before the race started to a slew of people in the parking lot. Before Jason dropped me off, he turned on his MP3 player and made sure the sound was just right before I stepped out of the car, yes still a bag of nerves.

Last night after I went to bed, he set up his MP3 player with music he knew would keep me moving – a mixture of some Sevendust, Nonpoint, Avenged Sevenfold and Volbeat. He could not have put together a better playlist if he tried.

So, as I walked into the middle of the crowd that gathered my nerves slowly diminished as the cold began kissing my face making my knees shake. This was from the pure cold, no longer the nerves.

I cannot fully put into words what kind of feeling consumed me at that moment. I was standing in the mix of runners; I was minutes away from starting my first race. I was so proud of myself for taking on this challenge by myself. Although I was running it by myself, it was comforting to know that Jason was in the crowd cheering me on, waiting for me to cross the finish line.

The 5th annual Chase the Turkey was definitely a family affair. Everywhere I looked a couple was standing shoulder to shoulder, parents and their youngsters standing in a circle, or a group of friends laughing amongst their small crowd.

I smiled at that moment; I was making my own memory by myself, which was so incredibly empowering. So incredibly gratifying. So incredibly independent. That alone was a huge undertaking for me. Years ago I would never have thought I could do something like that on my own.

Before the race began the organizer spoke and said they had 700 people registered for the race. I now cannot remember from how many different states, but it was impressive. It was good to hear that Chase the Turkey has grown every year. He was saying that last year the course had a lot of ice. This year there were a good amount of puddles, which I could handle.

Before the race began a prayer was shared by one of the local pastors and the song “Amazing Grace” came streaming through the speakers. By this point the nerves had completely disappeared and the excitement washed over my entire body. I was ready; oh I was so ready to start running.

All at once I was in the middle of a human stampede. As the lines of people picked up their feet and began running, it was like a domino effect as everyone behind them did the same thing. Eventually the fast runners made their way to the front of the line and everyone went into their own stride from the parking lot of Meadowview Convention Center to Meadowview Parkway.

Although there were people all around me, I was in my own little world. I was running to the beat of the music. I followed the hundreds of people before me as we made our way down the parkway to the stop light at Wilcox Drive. The cold completely diminished as the excitement heightened again as I rounded the median of Meadowview Parkway in the direction we just came.

I felt as if I had a good speed, I was not becoming tired.

After leaving the parkway I took a few strides on the grass before my feet hit the pavement of the golf course. The pathway went under the parkway up a little hill and then around a bend before hitting a straightaway back towards Wilcox Drive.

As some of the other runners came to a stop to walk, I maneuvered around them and kept my stride as the music filled my ears. I made it past the 2 mile marker and kept running smiling on the inside. You got this. The path along this stretch had puddles that everyone ran around. Unfortunately this was not the case the entire way to the finish line.

I made it a good 2.5 miles before the hills got the best of my legs. I stopped and walked as fast as I could until I reached the point where I told myself to pick my legs up and keep running. So, I was off again . . . this is when some of the puddles reaching the length of the path came into view detouring everyone into the grass.

Of course my foot hit a puddle and one foot instantly became cold as the water soaked through my shoe and sock.

At this point it started to drizzle a little, but I was still warm with my new running gear!

I got this . . . until another hill kicked my butt and my pace came to a fast walk again. The spot in the near distance that I chose to start running was a lot shorter this time before my speed picked up again. It helped that one of my favorite songs blared into my ears. (I’m thinking now when I run with my puppy Lucy music is going to be added to the exercise again. I love how it motivates you.)

I’m happy to say after this I ran all the way to the finish line. Yes, even with a pretty steep incline before making my way to the Meadowview parking lot again.

Shortly after climbing that hill, Jason came into view. I was so excited to see him . . . I knew the finish line was close by.

This part of the race was such an incredible feeling. I started to hear music other than my own and people cheering as the finish line arch way came into view. It was an invigorating feeling when I rounded that last curve, I was about to finish my first 5K.

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When I crossed the finish line . . . wow! Words cannot describe that feeling at all.

When I saw Jason walking closer I couldn’t contain my excitement. I could feel my face light up as a smile spread, Jason capturing the moment as he walked closer.

I did it. My first 5K is in the books.

I cannot wait to sign up for another 5K. That was such an incredible experience. Incredible experience. Now I know what I need to work on. Now I have a time to shoot for and pass.

According to the State of Franklin Track Club I was 17 out of 26 in my age category with a time of 34:42. Overall I came in 366th place out of 594 finishers.

I am proud of that time!

Wow, talk about a runners high!!

It was the perfect way to kick off Thanksgiving! A perfect way to jump start a day with the love of my life.

That high continued throughout the day, as Jason and I prepared our Thanksgiving feast together at home.

I truly have so much to be thankful for . . .

Registered for my first 5K!

I finally did it. I registered for my first 5K race.

At the beginning of the year I set the goal to run a 5K by the end of the year. For one reason or another I kept talking myself out of it.

About two weeks ago, I began looking for local races in Kingsport on www.Active.com and found a ton. I figured, by searching races it would help make that goal become a reality if I found one that jumped out at me. I was pleasantly surprised to find so many, so many close to home.

As I scrolled through the month of November I found one that made me smile. One that got me excited.

The 5th annual Chase the Turkey 5K Race and Family Walk at the Meadowview Convention Center, Thanksgiving morning.

My boyfriend works at MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center in the kitchen. I don’t know why, but I saw it as a sign.

It sounded like a nice, scenic, peaceful run.

“This friendly 5k begins at Meadowview Resort Center and runs along the Meadowview Parkway and then continues along the cart paths of the beautiful and serene Cattails Golf Course,” stated the website.

I didn’t sign up for the event that night, but rather saved it in my favorites on my computer. I have to be honest, I opened the link almost every other day mulling it over. The more I thought about it the more excited I became. That was another sign. What was I waiting for?

So, yesterday as I sat at my desk writing, my thoughts wandered. I opened the link once again, but this time I hit the register button. I filled out all my information, my name, address, birthdate, t-shirt size and hit the submit button. As soon as I hit that button, the nerves began. Butterflies were having a party in my stomach.

I instantly sent mom a text telling her I finally registered. Mom was really the person who got me into exercising. She’s been exercising for years and remains dedicated, which is inspirational to see, especially with some of the super long hours she works. She always told me it’s a mood enhancer. Whenever I share how stressed I am, her response is always go for a run.

“Cool. No problem. It’s only 3 miles, which you’ve been doing,” Mom replied in a text.

It’s true, when Lucy and I run, it’s between two and three miles. But, the catch is, we stop halfway through the run, so I can give her a break. So between now and Nov. 27, the breaks will be eliminated, so I can prove to myself I can go the distance.

I also posted my exciting news on Facebook. Yes, I really couldn’t contain it anymore, I had to share.

Jen, Jason’s step-mom and avid runner, was the first to comment.

“Way to go Meghan.”

Later in the feed, “Can’t wait to hear about it, so proud of you!!”

This woman is such an inspiration. She lost 140 pounds more than four years ago and took exercising on like a vengeance, as well as changing her eating habits. She’s always participating in races of every distance.

I was at the finish line when she completed her first marathon. It was incredible.

So the countdown begins . . . 23 more days until race day.

After I registered for the 5K, I made myself go back to work for about an hour and . . . . well the excitement never left, so Lucy and I went for a run.

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I kept to my plan. We ran 2.33 miles with only one brief stop. I had to take off one of the three layers I put on and Lucy had to take a quick bathroom break. One brief stop and we ran more than half the distance I need to complete the 5K! I was so proud of Lucy, well me for that matter too. We usually stop halfway through our run for 5 plus minutes sometimes.

Our longest running distance together is 3.13 miles.

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So after we were done with our run we kept walking, so Lucy could do her usual sniffing while enjoying the outdoors. It was only fair, she earned that time.

Lucy was an angel yesterday, which was a good change after the run we had the day before. She didn’t pull at all and ran alongside me like the amazing little running partner I needed.

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It was an absolutely gorgeous day yesterday with temperatures nearing the low 60s by the time we were done with a beautiful blue sky.

I am so excited! My first 5K! Who would have thought?