My First 15K Race

20150322_BAS_My First 15K Race
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I wanted to achieve two milestones before my upcoming trip to Germany: lift my own body weight and run my first race, and actually my first 15K (9.3 miles), in less than 99 minutes—as a preparation for my half marathon in early June.

With the deadlifts, I am currently stuck at 115 pounds, which unfortunately is quite a bit below my body weight. And I am not sure yet what would be harder: gaining more strength or dieting like crazy. Working my way up in weights or down in body weight both seem rather impossible to me right now.

But so did running a 15K in less than 90 minutes—until I did exactly that yesterday.

I am very glad I registered for a race before that upcoming half marathon—and the ultimate goal of a full in fall. Because running in a race is quite a bit different from just going out there and amassing miles.

First off, there’s all these people. The race I did was a small one, but still: I am not used to starting a run in the midst of a hundred other people. I am generally not a big fan of crowds and avoid them whenever I can. Having all these people around me threw me off so much that it took me about two miles until I felt I was in some sort of rhythm.

Secondly, the speed: I am still pretty slow considering that I want to run that half in less than two hours and the full in less than four (3:59:55 would be totally acceptable). I’ve done the math, and with my current 10 minutes a mile average, I am not even close to these times.

Yesterday was all about finishing, so I told myself I wouldn’t push it. Plus, having heard from experienced runners that the most common mistake is starting out too fast, I really tried not to do that. And I succeeded: the first two miles were my slowest in the race. From there, I picked up pace—first to a nine-minute average, and the last 1.5 miles I ran at 8:30.

The race turned out to be the second fastest run I have ever recorded on RunKeeper. And I had enough energy left after my three loops that I could have added a fourth one and made that (almost) a half marathon. Which made me feel a whole lot better about those goals I have laid out for myself.

So learning number three was: Races cater to my highly competitive nature. I know that the other people around me couldn’t care less about me falling behind or passing them, but that’s not how I am wired. I take everybody faster than me as a personal challenge.

Actually, I had a few minutes around Mile 2 where I suddenly ran at a 7:30 pace—only because some schmuck in white compression tights (seriously!) passed me, pushing a baby stroller. At that point, it didn’t matter a bit that he had signed up for the 5K and I for the 15K. My ego just can’t take it if a young father with bad taste, a receding hairline and a beer belly is faster than me.

Next time I see a guy like that I should probably hire him for some tempo runs—to make sure I’ll reach my next milestone, the under-two-hour half marathon.

But for now, I’m shifting my focus on those kettlebells and barbells. After all, there is another milestone I want to achieve before my travels in mid-April.

Olivia de Winter is most of all an avid writer and reader. Though she likes to consider herself a cosmopolitan, she is quite European - or German, to be honest - in many respects.

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