Since getting injured in October of 2007, my attempts at running have been, well, unimpressive. However, I am luckily engaged to a wonderful man who is doing his best to encourage me to get that spark back. As a direct result of that, I signed up for my first race in almost 2 years!
Ed had been planning to run the Santa Cruz 29k for a while, and our friend Bill was going to run the 21k, so I decided to go for the 10k. I knew I wouldn't run the whole thing, and I wasn't sure I could finish, but since I had a PCTR voucher from volunteering, I figured I couldn't turn down a 'free' race. Ed's mom and friend also signed up for the 10k, and we looked forward to a fun weekend.
The morning of the race, something weird happened - I was nervous! My stomach was flip flopping while I tried to drink down a jamba juice. Bill and his friend arrived and off we went 'over the hill' to Santa Cruz. I was still nervous, but was almost enjoying it. I never would have thought that a 10k could make me feel worried, but here it was.
As we pulled up to these familiar streets, I was remembering this race last year, when Ed ran his first 50k and did amazingly. I was looking forward to actually participating in this event. We checked in and waited around, and soon it was time for Ed to get going. After he took off, I made one more bathroom stop and then very soon in was my turn. I positioned myself towards the back and before I knew it, the countdown was over and we were moving.
Once we reached the trails a tight uphill singletrack slowed us down to a walk, which was fine by me, since I didn't want to burn out in the first quarter mile trying to run up a steep hill. While I was in the back, I wasn't last, and was contented hiking up the beautiful trails.
We were quickly rising into the hills over Santa Cruz and soon reached a beautiful meadow that I had never seen before - I was so excited by the bright blue sky and the golden grasses, and pictured Ed running through here 20 minutes earlier. I spotted two women not that far ahead of me, and decided to try to catch up so that I could have some running buddies.
Before I knew it, we were intersecting with a very familiar trail - one that Ed and I had run on numerous times together. Being on familiar ground was very calming, it made me much more confident about completing this race. I also caught up with the two women, who kindly allowed me to hang out with them for much of the rest of the race. Meeting new people was one of my favorite parts of running and I really enjoyed hearing their stories and getting to know them.
As we approached the turn around, the trail switched from a large fireroad to a beautiful single track through redwood forest, and it just about took my breath away (that, and the hills :) ). I enjoyed the downhills and looked forward to enjoying the downside of the uphills on the way back.
Once I reached the turn around, I was excited - this was feeling much easier than I thought it would. On the way back I really enjoyed the single track downhill and then slowed down on the fire road with my new running friend, whose hip was bothering her a little. We stayed together until the intersection to take us back through the meadow, where I said goodbye and picked up the pace. I really enjoyed the last downhill bit of trail, and before I knew it I heard the people at the finish line.
I flew down that last stretch and through the finish, completing my 10k in 1:29:53, just breaking 1:30 :). My pace was 14.44, which means that I was running more than I was walking!
About a half an hour later, Ed's mom and friend came across the finish, and not long after that, Ed came in, with a 7th place finish. A little while later, Bill and his friend finished.
We celebrated by going to Ed and my old favorite Santa Cruz breakfast place, Cafe Brazil, where I had a wonderful celebratory meal.
I was amazed by how much fun it was, and am excitedly already planning my next race: Rodeo Beach 8k. Even better, my Dad is also going to get back into running, and is going to 'run' it too!
I'm also using this race as a kick off to overall better health. I've started back up on Weight Watchers and have really enjoyed healthier eating. I also ran twice this week and walked once.
Good things are on the horizon!