One of the first times I ran with Cindy was last May. She took me around her neighborhood along her normal running route. I had just started getting into running outdoors, doing a few laps around the very flat Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park when I could. Her area had a lot of hills (at least for me). About 2.5-3 miles in, I had to stop and take a breather. I may or may not have said to her, “Are you trying to fucking kill me with all these hills?”
Fast forward 10 months or so, I was getting to run my first race ever, the Great Race of Agoura Hills 10K. For the weeks leading up to the race, I would keep looking at the elevation and wonder what I was thinking making this my first race. When I moved to LA, I started doing a 10K training plan just to have some motivation and structure as I tried to be consistent about running. I was nearing the end of my plan and decided that I’d run the next 10K I could find that you got a medal for completing. I figure if I’m paying for this race, I want some bling after I’m done. Foolishly, I didn’t look at the elevation chart for the course until a week after I signed up (although Agoura HILLS should have been a clue). During my training plan, I had gotten better about hills but I still hated them. They always killed my breathing. Why couldn’t I have held out for a 10K with a relatively flat course?
Cindy and I drove to Agoura Hills the morning of the race. Cindy had just run the LA Marathon less than a week ago and dressed like she hadn’t decided if she was just going to start running with me. I’d gone to a few races and the marathon to cheer on and support Cindy so it felt great having her on the sidelines for me. She waited with me at the starting line while I stretched and reminded me to start slowly. She gave me a kiss for luck then went ahead to take some photos a few blocks from the starting line. I wasn’t nervous. I just wanted to get it over with it at this point. Honestly, the only motivation I had was wanting to be able to tell Cindy that I did well when it was all over. She had just run a marathon. I would have felt pretty crappy if I couldn’t even run a 10K.
The first few blocks of the 10K were downhill which was awesome. I tried to pace myself but it’s hard to not get caught up in the atmosphere of the race. Even though I use the RunKeeper app on my iPhone, I usually keep track of how long I’ve been running by how many songs have played. I’d had been running a three to four song mile during my training but when I got the audio notification that I hit one mile not even halfway into my third song I started to get concerned. Even though there was some downhill portions, I had never run a mile that fast before. I figured my speed would level out by the second and third mile when the hills kicked in but I was still running pretty fast (for me). This is when I’ll admit to getting a little cocky. Pre-race, I thought I was going to finish in a few minutes past an hour and I would have been happy with that especially considering the hills. But after I hit the 5K mark under 30 minutes, dreams of finishing under an hour started dancing in my head. That’s when the real hills started kicking in and I started fading a bit. I had walk a little bit after the fourth mile. I stopped altogether at the last water station. There was one particularly steep hill that I just said “Fuck it” to and walked up. One section of the race was on a dirt hill and it was a little muddy. I was tired and it was getting hard to get my feet in and out of the mud. I stopped thinking about finishing under one hour and started thinking about what I wanted for breakfast.
I saw Cindy taking pictures as we were getting out of dirt hill and heading back to the street towards the finish line. I wasn’t sure how much further I had to go but all of the sudden, Cindy started running alongside me. She looked like a reporter trying to get an exclusive quote with all her stuff (and mine) and her camera in hand. She asked me how I was feeling and told me the finish line was right around the corner. I don’t know what I said to her but I definitely thought my fiancée kicks ass.
When I got into the area where the finish line was, the announcer said “This is your last chance to finish under an hour! Hurry up!” I didn’t think I still had a chance! I made one last sprint and crossed the finish line at 59:53. My chip time ended up being 59:30. Not bad for a first race. I grabbed my medal then met up with Cindy at one of the booths. She asked me if I wanted to check out all the booths or grab some running swag and treats. I just wanted to leave and get some breakfast.
So what’s next? I’m signed up for the Long Beach Half Marathon in October. Cindy also signed up but might upgrade it to a full marathon (She’s hooked). Since the race, I’m finding it hard to get motivated to go out on runs during the week without the training plan so I might start looking for a new race to work up to, preferably with less elevation.