In December I ran in my first race. At the time I was frustrated and disappointed at my time and performance. Since then I've had a lot of time to think about it and to reflect. I came to realize I am proud of this accomplishment!
Not only did I finish the race, but I finished in front of approximately half of the entrants for the 6K. I had wanted to be in the top 50%, but I'll take 60%. For my division (women ages 35-39), the number is even better. I finished in the top 45%. I really can't ask for much more considering the circumstances.
I think what really got my attention was my pace. I'm not running much faster than this now, and I know this number is off. I wound up having to make a stop at the restroom toward the end of the race, so I know that added a lot of time. I bet my real pace was about a 12 minute mile. My goal was an 11:00 pace, but I think that may have been unrealistic.
What I've learned from this experience is that the performance itself isn't the only factor to consider. I need to be proud of the fact that I tried something new. Although my family saw me to the starting line and were waiting at the finish line, I ran the race myself. I had to figure out how to pass other runners, how to get a drink while running, and I had to make the race my own. I had to do it my way and for me. Doing things by myself and for myself is a new concept to me. Having self esteem can feel very selfish after living a life trying to please others. This time I had to please only myself.
I do have a disclaimer about this particular run, though. I crossed the finish line, looked at Daniel, and said, "OK, I'm ready to go to the doctor now." My face and neck felt like it was going to split open, and I had only had about 3 hours of sleep the night before. I had been battling severe scaling and flaking on my entire face since Thanksgiving, and the night before the race I couldn't sleep because the rash on my neck was so bad. It turned out, after three months of various doctors appointments and tests, that I have eczema.
While most people consider eczema to be just a simple skin disorder, it actually turns out to be a pretty involved problem. My skin does not do it's job properly. It is supposed to protect the body from becoming dehydrated by keeping moisture in. With eczema, not only does the skin not stay hydrated the way it is supposed to but it becomes inflamed. This, it turns out, is yet another autoimmune disorder to add to the list that seems to be growing as I age. The day of the race was worsened by the fact I was sweating and in the sun for hours. Oh, and STRESS is a factor in eczema breakouts. I had put myself into a serious cycle of stressing, making the rash worse, the rash made me stress, and it just went round and round. The doctor prescribed an anti-itch medicine that put me out like a light. Between not sleeping much the night before and the medicine, I spent the whole day sleeping on my mom's couch. It didn't seem there was much to celebrate.
So, today I am finally giving myself credit for the hard work that got me to my first 6K race and for the race itself. I can't wait to find another to enter and to start to train for it. I am thinking late March or early April will be good. That is just far enough out to give me confidence in training, but it is close enough to stay excited.