Monday, August 04, 2008

My First Race

First of all, big congrats to Jen and RBR who both completed Barb's Race, their first half iron tri, under scorching sun this weekend, Calyx on completing her first half marathon on what looks to be a postcard-perfect San Francisco day, and Rural Girl, Pharmie, IronWil, Nancy, TriCajun and many others who did Steelhead 70.3, which turned into a duathlon due to wicked waves and a strong undertow that made swimming dangerous. Man, am I glad I decided not to do that race. Not only would it have been disappointing to have traveled so far to do a duathlon, my hamstring would probably have balked at all the walking around in sand they did before the race and then having to do two run segments. Funny, though, it wasn't long ago that I would have wished every tri I did turned into a du ;-)

But the hammy is continuing to improve and things are looking good. Last week, I was able to do some short runs pain-free at a normal easy pace as opposed to super slow. Like I'd be probably faster if I just walked. During the swim workout after the one where I dragged that dam parachute, I clocked a 1:48 for 100 yards, which is like a speed record for me. No drafting, fins or pull buoy used, I swear! And this weekend on the bike, I was able to hold 20-22mph on Saturday riding in front during much of a 38-mile route and do 50 miles on Sunday at an avg pace of 17.5mph without much difficulty. So I feel I haven't really lost much fitness as a result of the injury, which is good.

But I am missing racing and running, in particular. I started thinking back to my first race when I didn't know sh*t about training, nutrition, pacing or any of that stuff. I just ran and had fun. Life seemed so simple back then ...



My first race was the 2002 Kona Half Marathon. I'd always been one of the slowest girls to run laps in P.E. while growing up and never thought I'd be in a race. Yet, here I was in one of my favorite places in the world lined up with hundreds of others at sunrise. I was scared. Scared of running alongside so many people, scared of aid stations (didn't know how to drink out of a cup while running and didn't want to stop for fear of cramps) and deathly scared of being timed.

So I brought my own little 6 oz bottle of water to sip along the way, wore no watch and planned to view this race as one of my many nice leisurely jogs. Well, that lasted for about a mile.

After the crowd had thinned out, I turned into someone else. I'd never felt the thrill of adrenaline pumping during a race, running in the middle of the street with no cars around, passing people or having spectators cheering. I was like a drug addict craving it, pushing for more and completely oblivious to the consequences. Gels, bonking, what's that?

Approaching the turnaround, things had only gotten worse. I was feeling quite good by then and was now counting (yes, counting!) women going the other way. Several people were slowing going through aid stations and I was secretly happy they were so I could pass them, yet wondering too if maybe I should grab water since my little 6 oz water bottle was pretty much empty.

But people were cheering for me and telling me how strong I looked. How could I slow down?

As the last few miles clicked off I was breathing harder than ever before. I worried that I might have a heart attack or pass out but knew I was close to the end (of the race). I just needed to hang on. Upon making the final turn, I saw the finish line and it never looked so good (it was the first one I'd ever seen :-). I crossed it not having any idea what my race time meant. I was just so happy to be done!

1:43:59 (7:58 pace), 2nd place F40-49, 7th Overall Female.

Best of all, former Olympian Frank Shorter was the one who gave me my first race medal. Back then, not all half marathoners got them so the medal was the AG award. And that's how it all started.

Now I just have to be patient.

24 comments:

Wendy said...

Shirley, that's an inspirational start to your racing story -- and a wicked quick first half to boot.

RBR said...

What a cool story! Thank you for sharing that. You are such an inspiration and wealth of knowledge for me. Thank you so much for your friendship!

I will NEVER win an age group award, but I will ALWAYS try to have fun out there like my hero Shirleyperly!

(You haven't aged a damn bit. That part about you is a little annoying but, I will let it pass.)

Petraruns said...

That is a wonderful story - and worth thinking about. And what an amazing time and achievement for a first race as well!

One thing honey - your stomach is awesome. And that's how you looked before you were a triathlete? Sheesh - you set the bar high my friend.

Road Warrior said...

Wow, Shirley, in what world do you finish your first race ever, a 1/2 no less, in 1:43? Unreal. Simply unreal.

Susan said...

WOW WOW WOW!

MarathonChris said...

Amazing! What an incredible first race! Didn't leave yourself much room for improvement :-)

CewTwo said...

Wow! What a memory to share. My first race was a 5K... Why did I ever go beyond that?

ShirleyPerly said...

Thanks everyone for your kind comments. I know I may seem backwards doing long distance races before short ones but I think what's most important when starting out in racing is doing the distance you're most comfortable with. For me, it was a half. 5Ks are still quite scary to me.

Sunshine said...

Thanks for the inspiration!
Best wishes for your patience and your running. We are cheering.

mangotriathlete said...

Shirley, that's a great story. Thank you for sharing, its great to remember how fun racing can really be. You know, something I've noticed is that my first races post-injury have that same special feeling in a way, like it is the "first" all over again for a new stage in my running/tri world. Hang in there with the patience - your time will come again :-)

Rural Girl said...

You have been fast the whole time! I love your story. Best of all the story never ends. I hope your hamstring comes along quickly.

Tammy said...

Talking about your first race reminds me of mine although I was a straggler (one of slow folks) it felt so good on folks cheering me on. It must have felt great when you finished that you took 2nd place. Very touching story to all of us who know what that first race feels like. I'm not to sure if I'd get the point of coming in top 3 in my age group, but I have just begone :D hey you never know.

Kevin said...

Great story. That was a super fast 1st race with no real training.

Bruce Stewart (施樸樂) (ブルース・スチュワート) said...

A friend recently told me about the Taroko Marathon and Half Marathon in early November in Taiwan. Don't know if I should have a go. I guess I'd better ask Bree. If I do it, I'll take a camera and get some beautiful pictures of the gorge we will run along.
I'm glad you at least find marathons a piece of cake.

ShirleyPerly said...

Kevin: No real training in running, yes. But ~25 years of casual slow jogging and 4 yrs of recent martial arts training gave me the endurance and confidence to toe that line. After that race I realized I was not as slow as I'd always thought. And even if I was, no one was going to yell at me or make fun of me as often happened when I was younger. I was my own worst critic!

Stef said...

Um. WOW.

Shirley that is an amazing story! That would totally be a dream time for me. But I think, with a few more years of training under my belt, I can get close.

Amazing how all of the training, even though yours may not all have been run specific, is cumulative!

BreeWee said...

AHHHHH! LOVE it, I love that race, I love seeing Frank out there, he ran Again this year... Thank you for all the super posts you share with encouragement and positive attitude!

Ellie Hamilton said...

Wow! Cool first-race story! I should post mine sometime. It was a 5-miler.

Glad you didn't lose ground while out with your hamstring. I'm getting de-conditioned, I'm afraid... the last 2 miles of my 10-mile bike the other day felt like the last miles of a 50-miler when you've only been riding 30. ~Sigh~

Kathy said...

Wow, what a story! Very inspirational! It seems you were just built for this :0) Glad the hamstring is doing a bit better.

Formulaic said...

What a great story! Thank you for sharing it.

I'll think of it during my long runs (and envy your speed too!).

Thanks for stopping by.

Brent Buckner said...

Uber-cool first race story & pic!

jeanne said...

what a way to start your running career! holy hell! if i could ever run 9 minute miles (that means anything that STARTS with a 9), i'd be so thrilled it would be beyond thrilling! it's thrilling to read this story!

Jade Lady said...

I still remember that race! And the rest...as we all know...is history...

PLANET3RRY said...

Frank Shorter gave you your first medal... that's pretty damn cool!

My first race was an 8k with no running training, just soccer (which is basically just 10 minutes of intervals with 60 minutes of walking and 20 minutes of standing/sitting), so although it wasn't as long as a half, it was still more than a 5k