As Earth Week 2010 winds down I figured I better get to typing up my impressions from my first race in over 10 years—the St. Cloud, Minnesota Earth Day 5K held on Friday, April 16. The St. Cloud Earth Day Run actually consists of several running events. There was a 1K for the kids that was also held on Friday. The main event—the Earth Day half marathon—was held on Saturday, April 17 along with a half marathon relay and a 20 mile race.
In one word, it was AWESOME! According to my training program I should have run a 5K earlier, but considering I started in February, finding a 5K in Minnesota in March is a bit of a challenge. Not to mention I wasn’t sure if I wanted to taint my first race experience with freezing cold temps and snow. The 5K turned out to be a pretty easy run for me and a great way of easing myself into “competitive” runs. My long runs are now up to 8 miles so finishing a 3.1 mile run was a good place to start. It was an added bonus that it was roughly 65° and sunny the evening of the race. The wind was gusting at about 25mph, but didn’t seem to be too much of a factor. As an overall this was phenomenal weather for the middle of April in Minnesota.
The best thing about adding organized running events into your training is the added motivation to accomplish your goals, not to mention all the good loot you get to start collecting (t-shirts and participation ribbons/medals). It’s also a real ego boost to run the actual event because it is such a supportive environment. At every race you will find tons of people along the way cheering you on, admiring your accomplishment, and giving you words of encouragement. How can you beat that? At the Earth Day 5K there was lots of cheering, signs, cowbells, and even a trumpeter playing fun stuff like the Rocky theme and “Charge”! Having someone you know at the race to cheer you on doesn’t hurt either. There is a lot of positive energy whatever the accomplishment.
There are people of every skill level, especially in 5Ks and the weird thing is everyone has the same anxieties about how they will perform. There will always be the speed demons that finish in under 18 minutes and there a lots of people who enjoy the cameraderie and environment and walk the entire course. The biggest thing is to not let the pace of speedy people intimidate you. Go at your own pace, or if you feel you have the energy, push a little harder. Running with others in a race is energizing and makes this challenge seem easier. You’ve been doing this awhile and know what you can handle. Try to find your zone, or place of zen. Focus or listen to music if it helps. I managed to find my rhythm despite jostling around other runners and walkers and finished in 32:34 which is a 10 minute, 29 second mile, right where I’ve been hitting when training.
My first race, and now my second one is done—watch for my post on race number two, the Get in Gear 10K in Minneapolis that was today, April 24th.