I don’t know why initially registered for this race.
I guess being a Tampa native I had always heard about TheGasparilla Distance classic.
I guess it became a “running bucket list” item of sorts. It was only February, and Kristin and I had only been technically “running” for a few months. But there we were, picking up my cousin Sabrina at some ungodly hour preparing to run our very first official 5k race!
Sabrina was on her road to health and wellness too. After losing over 100lbs, this was definitely something she wanted to say she could complete. She drove alllll the way up from Miami to do this race with us, and the memories we made from it were worth every mile.
It just so happened that a cold front was coming through that morning, so all outfit plans had to be scrapped race morning when we realized it was going to be raining and in the 40s throughout the race. We had never practiced for this, so we had NO idea what to expect.
I ended up throwing on a pair of long yoga pants and a long sleeved shirt, but once we started to get rained on, no amount of clothing was going to be able to rid my body of the chill. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a cup of something warm post-race!
After sitting in traffic for almost 45 minutes, and many obscenities later (I don’t like traffic), we parked and made our way to the front of the Bayshore Publix to do some warmups and get out of the rain and cold. We were pretty early, so we had plenty of time to
freak out stretch, use the bathroom and psych ourselves up. The best thing about a first time race is that there are no prior expectations. Every first race is a PR. Every picture is priceless. Every moment is a positive one because it’s your first!
Before we knew it, we were lined up with what seemed like a billion people. I had no idea how many people participate in this event! We were somewhere in the middle of the pack, and although we had all intentions on being the caboose, there was absolutely no way we would have been able to excuse our way through to the back of the pack. We edged our way to the sidelines in hopes of receiving minimal injury from the faster runners we knew would be snowplowing their way through the funnel.
While we were standing there, shoulder to shoulder, crunched in like sardines, the rain began. I mean really began. It had been drizzling a mist-like rain all morning, but now it was flat out pouring. I’ll never forget the stinging drops pelting my face as I waited for the gun to blow. Yeah, it was uncomfortable, but it was my first race. I loved every second of it.
Kristin and I decided that we would jalk (jog+walk) the entire race and stick it out together in case one of us decided to wimp out and call it quits. Sabrina was going to walk the entire thing as the whole walking/running experience was something new and her goal as all about crossing that finish line and earning that bling!
The race started and off we went- slipping, sliding and shivering our way along Bayshore.
Kris and I stuck side by side the entire time, and kept up a pretty good and consistent pace, even though we were constantly obsessing with the fact we were going to slip and bust our asses along the road (we didn’t).
By the time we set our sights on the finish line, we were drenched, but we crossed that line like we were rockstars- running through it, cheering, hooting and hollering. We felt awesome, and earned our bling! It was a moment I’d never forget.
Just a year before, I was active, but I had never dreamed I would do something like this. At almost 370lbs, it would have been difficult for me to do 5 feet! But here I was, able to call myself a 5k’er.
Yes, I was slow.
Yes, I huffed.
Yes, I was soaked.
But I did it. And that’s all that matters.
Final time? 53:40 (I was STOKED to have finished in under an hour!).
We made the long, cold walk back to the car, totally ignoring the cold post-race treats they were offering (yes, even the free beer), and headed our happy, but chilled tails over to the nearest Starbucks for something h-o-t.
It really didn’t sink in until I got home, showered, hung up my medal and started talking to family and friends about the experience on Facebook and witnessed just how many people were proud of what I had accomplished. I heard comments like “I could never do that!” and “Wow, that’s amazing!” They made me realize and really internalize the fact that I had just completed an official 5k race. And that was the day I became a runner.
No matter how slow you are, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.
Do you remember your first official race?