Race Week: My First Ever Running Race

Picture it: March, 2012 in Princeton, New Jersey, a girl mails in a race registration form after seeing a flyer advertising the race on a supermarket bulletin board. And a journey is started.

My anxiety about participating in this event basically started the minute I mailed in the registration form. Packet pick up was at a local running store and I remember freaking out going in to pick up my number because I assumed they’d all be judging me. She runs? I was having high school induced flashbacks and freaking the fuck out. Turned out, I just had to tell them my last name and they gave me a “bib” and asked my t-shirt size. I asked for an extra large and I felt like, “oh man, they’re totally going to not even carry that size shirt because who wears and extra large and runs?!” Turns out, they do carry that size and I’m just a fucking moron.

The day before the race, I went out and ran for 3.1 miles. JUST TO BE SAFE SO I KNEW I WOULD FINISH. Essentially, if you couldn’t tell already, I had no idea what constituted a family fun run 5k BUT I WANTED TO BE PREPARED FOR ANY EVENTUALITY.

That Sunday morning, I put on a giant Orange Crush soda logo t-shirt and my leggings and my target sneakers and my cotton socks. My dad dropped me off at the race. It was cloudy, humid, damp, and all around gross. He wanted to stay, I think, and watch but I started loosing my shit and said “NO I DON’T WANT ANYONE HERE!” No one needed to see my abject failure (again: totally didn’t get the family fun run concept). I put myself all the way at the back and had a minor freak out before we started and then was like, “oh, ok, this isn’t bad.”

At this 5k, I experienced my most inspirational moment in all the races I’ve done: a man on my left around 2 miles in looked like haggard death and yet he kept huffing and puffing and wheezing out “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. I don’t know if it was his first 5k or not, but swear to God now when running gets difficult I just start singing that song. It’s inspirational, it really is.

Most of the way, I followed and tried to keep up with a girl in a Philadelphia marathon shirt. I was passed repeatedly by kids who would bolt in front of me and then stop and walk to discuss how they were going to PJ’s Pancake House afterwards. I fucking hated those kids.

This is the only race I do not have my bib for, unfortunately. I had pulled off the little bottom tab because I didn’t like having things hanging from my bib (STILL DON’T), and being the newbie I had no idea that was how they were timing me so I had to fork over my bib at the finish. All in all, it was a pretty magical experience. A month later I signed up for the Wine & Dine half marathon (IN APRIL!). Oh, and a half marathon in May because (sing the chorus with me now) I was a fucking moron.

What’s your favorite memory from your first race?

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12 thoughts on “Race Week: My First Ever Running Race

  1. This is a GREAT story! Before my first 5k I had never fun the full distance. People kept asking me if I was going to make it and my answer was, “well, I guess we are going to find out”. And then I did and the journey began! I’m going to try that song trick!

  2. Thank you for getting that song stuck in my head! My first race was the Color Run Boston in 2012, and while the race itself was great, they were an accident on the highway, and the shuttle busses were stuck for several hours while we baked in the sun at the finish.

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