Monday, November 30, 2009

My First Race Ever!!!

by Mandi from Shanghai

I did it!! I ran in my first running race ever, a half marathon. I must say, I always thought 13.2 miles didn't sound like a very long way to go, but 2 hours and 4 minutes later, it felt long....but let me back up a little and tell you how it all went down.

My brother, Josh, dad and I all ran (not together though because they run WAY faster). So we all got up at 5:30, got dressed, ate a few pieces of toast with honey on it, and got pumped with the music blaring in my parents apartment (I'm sure their neighbors loved us). We headed out at 6:30 for the start line. When we pulled off, there was a fury of activity. Teams of people jogging, jumping, anxiously waiting. Josh, Dad and I did a quick jog down a side street (I popped a squat because I knew I would never be able to hold it and there were no port-a-potties in sight). We jogged back, and jumped the gate where everyone was lined up. We all stood stretching and chatting with my Uncle Scott and mom until we heard the Chinese national anthem being played. We got quiet as all the runners sang along with their national anthem and then in words I didn't understand, they announced the race was starting. Off we went, walking. It was too packed in their to actually run at first, but as we crossed the actual starting line we were able to break into a run.

Josh and Dad were out of eye shot within the first few minutes and then it was just me, my ipod and my self-talk. I kept my mind busy by singing along with songs, making a note of the funny things I saw, and yelling at myself in my own head. I was passing a good number of people, which felt awesome and made me feel like I was off to a good start, but my cockiness would soon be shattered when I would see the least athletic looking Chinese woman speed walking by me or a 4 ft 5 in. barefoot man pass me. I had no clue how fast I was running, but I felt like I was moving at an ok pace. At about 12km my mom and uncle were there and ran beside me for a few minutes. My uncle said, "you're moving at a good pace, you're just about 5 minutes behind Josh and your dad." To which I responded, "really? They must be hurting" (because something had to be wrong if I was that close to them). He said they looked great. That gave me a little hope that I was maybe moving at a good pace. My first indication of my pace was when I saw a sign that said 15km and had a time on it of 1:28:05. I thought to myself, "awesome, that means my pace is....shoot, how many km are in a mile??" Then it began, the mental math that lasted the last 30 minutes of the race. Wondering how far I had left to go. Each km marker I would calculate using the logic, "well if a 5K is 3.2 then a 10K is a 6.4 and that means...." Some of you know, that's WRONG. When I got to km marker 20 I thought ok good, just 4 minutes left. WRONG. I had gotten my numbers wrong, so as what felt like 4 minutes came and went and my legs were hurting more than I could bare I was ticked. "How much farther is it??? Am I totally off in my calculations? I can't be too far off!!" I decided ok, I'll just walk for one second or at least run SLOWLY. As I slowed down to a jog, I felt a man push on my back and say something in Chinese. I looked over and he said something again, still with his hand pushing me. I said thank you a few times in Chinese and he smiled. I realized I was actually not that far from the end. So I pushed it. I finally saw the finish and pushed it even harder. I saw 2:06:something on the clock and was happy. I just wanted to finish under 2:10 and I did. Not to mention I didn't start at the time the race clock started, so I knew I had done even better than that.

When I got my "everyone gets one" medal and a paper with my actual time I saw it was 2:04:something, I was happy but wondered, "shoot, could I have run 4 minutes faster? Maybe next time!" And that was it. My first race was over.

I thought I would throw this in so you could see a "dressing room" in China :)