To me it felt like any other Saturday morning. Wake up, eat a small breakfast, and go out for a run. But for Boyfriend it was The Big Day. The big day of his first EVER 5k race!! I was pretty excited, but also a little nervous as it was supposed to be a very hot day, the race didn't start until 11am, and it was not a very flat course. Breakfast was English muffins and LOTS of water although we both also needed a cup of coffee to wake us up at first. And then we were off.
The University City 5K is part of Drexel University's Alumni weekend festivities, and the course is a double loop around campus. Since we are both alum we totally knew our way around, and I decided to park a few blocks away near where I used to live on campus because I knew parking was available and best of all FREE. Of course, like most of my plans, this one was not very thought out as we had to walk about six or so blocks to the start area and pick up our T-shirts and race info (Boyfriend was very excited to have a bib number on his shirt. Being very unfamiliar with shorter distance races he wasn't sure he would get one) back to the car to ditch our stuff, and then back to the start. Only then did I realize they had an makeshift gear check in a nearby building. Although this race is in it's eighteenth year, it seemed somewhat small and not super organized. Had we not been affiliated with Drexel I don't know if I would have wanted to sign up so bad. There was a lot of standing around and waiting. And waiting. Sometimes there was stretching, and a little chatting, and talking about the race, and strategy. I looked around and all the college students gathered in groups in the small bits of shade, most of them belonging to a sorority or fraternity. I always try to figure out of people are fast or not. I know it is not important, it doesn't matter, but it passes the time just to guess.
Bib pinned on and ready to race!
"Push Harder" He writes on his shoes just like me!!
And then they were telling us it was time to line up in the street, trying to stay in the shade as long as possible. I loved watching the men and women I knew would lead the race. They were the ones who had been warming up beforehand. Doing striders along the sidewalk, making it look like nothing. The start was as simple as "Ready, Set, GO!" I kid you not. Getting up that hill was not very fun but we kept it slow and smart. There were lots of groups of students in "volunteer" T-shirts cheering for us along the sides of the street, but I was surprised when I saw people stop and walk before we even got to mile 1. I was even more surprised at the need for a water stop before we got to mile 1. I am obviously not schooled in the ways of the 5k.
Once up the hill, which only really kicked our butts for four blocks, it was left turn, left turn, left turn and just keep on going. What goes up must come down and so of course after the second turn was a glorious downward slope. All the while I am asking Boyfriend how he feels, how is his breathing, etc. I am being the ever peppy cheerleader and keep saying things like, "looking good, running strong, very nice, pace is great etc." I can tell he probably just wants me to shut up and run. I miss the 1 mile mark so I cannot take our split time but I don't want to push too hard so I figure wherever we are, we are, even if it's slow.
But when we finish our first loop and head into our second I notice the race clock and catch a glimpse of the number 15. This is excellent, I say as we head back uphill for a second time. around 15 minutes at the halfway mark is great, but the hill takes a toll and we slow down for a bit. It is hot. All the students who were rowdy and cheering on our first lap are loosing their pep. The once plentiful water stops are dry, somehow they ran out of cups and have resorted to reaching into garbage cans of water and throwing them on the runners. halfway through that second loop I can feel that this is going to be such a good race. I am so proud of Boyfriend, not only for running in this heat but for pushing, because I can tell he is.
The last stretch of the race is mostly downhill but it is directly into the sun, and my goodness it is brutal. Miserable. But in those last few moments something comes over Boyfriend and he takes off, charging up hill and into the finishers shoot. I let him go, feeling my lovely friend nausea build in my stomach and watch him proudly cross the finish line and I glance down at my watch which reads 30:23. One of his best times. I have to admit being the emotional sap that I am I almost cry. I can't help it. When someone works so hard for something, and comes a long way from where they were you can't help it. It may not be a marathon or a half marathon but those are't for everyone. Just reaching out and deciding to run a 5k can be a scary thing too. I always said when we started doing longer runs outside together that 3 miles to him is like 10 miles to me, no matter how you slice it the first few times you do something it is T-O-U-G-H!
Later that afternoon when he asked when our next race should be, I beam with excitement The running bug has bitten and he is so hooked!