First Race Recap that Ignited the Fire!

Runnin’ O the Green: Saturday, March 14, 2015

Last year I was six months postpartum and signed up for my first race, Runnin' O the Green 5k, which I would be running at eight months postpartum. My goal was to run the entire time and finish under 30 min. This ignited my passion for running. Over the past year I've continued to push myself, completed seven races, discovered trail running, got in the best shape of my life (even pre-pregnancy!), and completed my first half marathon in 1:44! 

After I began running six months postpartum, in January 2015, the first race I signed up for was the Runnin’ O the Green in downtown Bellingham, Washington. I only had a grand total of two months of running before this race, and I think the furthest distance I had ran was MAYBE a total of 2.5 miles. Either way, signing up for this race was the motivation I needed to continue running, pushing myself both physically and mentally, and a chance to see how fast I could actually run! Runnin’ O the Green is an annual St. Patrick’s Day themed race put on by the City of Bellingham Parks and Recreation. Distance options include 5k walk/run (approx. 3 mi) and 8k run (approx. 5 mi). This is a very popular event that is fun, family-friendly (strollers and youngsters included) and is highly organized. I chose early packet pickup the day before the race at Klicks Running, which was available between 2-7pm. My husband and baby girl came along and waited in the car while I waited in the long, long line. There was a nice energy in the store to get people pumped up for the race! They handed out green bead necklaces and energy bars after people picked up their bib, safety pins, and technical t-shirt. I ordered an adult size small shirt, since after having a baby, which seemed to be the most realistic size for me to wear! Once I tried it on though, that was a different story. I had no idea an adult small shirt could be so HUGE! Needless to say, I’ve only worn that shirt one time in public, and left the other times to be my comfy shirt to sleep in. Anyways, we had only lived in Washington for six months before the race, which I had mainly spent at home with our newborn baby. I wasn’t familiar with downtown Bellingham and I hadn’t driven enough to be comfortable with finding a parking spot before the race! I also wasn't  used to the rainy weather. I honestly still used an umbrella or was unhappy about my hair getting wet. I left with the hopes of showing up thirty minutes early, but drove around in circles before finding a place to park, still unfamiliar with where I was! Thank goodness to GPS in our smartphones, I meandered my way down to the starting area. There were so many people! I wasn’t sure if this is what every race was like, or if this was an extra special event, but I felt slightly uncomfortable! 

Being an introvert in a new place with a ton of strangers isn’t the most exciting thing in the world. I did some stretching and butt-kicks to warm up. Honestly, I didn’t know what to do! The race starts on Cornwall Ave close to Boundary Bay. The weather was slightly cold, rainy, and windy; not what I had hoped for whatsoever! After a few blocks towards State St, there’s a pretty steep hill that winds around and puts a little gap between runners. Running up along State St took more effort than expected due to the rain and wind! The course is clearly marked with giant white chalk arrows on the street and pathways. Once you reach the person in the giant gorilla suit, you either run straight for the 8k or turn right for the 5k. Since I was doing the 5k, I turned right and headed down the crushed limestone pathway heading back towards downtown. I didn’t have a special gps watch or any special gear, just my instinct and goal of finishing the race in 30 minutes or less, without stopping to walk. Once I noticed people kicking it up a notch, running super fast for the last leg of the race, I decided that it was probably time for me to run as fast as I possibly could! I ended up finishing the race in 28:57, which is an average of 9:20/mile. I actually finished 7th in my age group, Female 25-29, and placed 53rd overall for females. As you can imagine, I felt ecstatic and super proud of myself for finishing the race faster than my goal time and felt amazing crossing the finish line! The only downside I felt was the fact that my husband and baby girl weren’t there to greet me. She just wasn’t quite ready to head out, due to requiring multiple naps per day and nursing throughout the day. There were tiny water cups and volunteers to greet us runners after the race, and once we meandered down towards the Boundary Bay outdoor Beer Garden, there was a huge spread of food, live music, and a special event to celebrate the end of our race!  

What was your first race experience? Why don't you take the leap and sign up for your first race, if you haven't yet done so?! Showing up and running slow is more than the person who chose to stay home!


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