I finished my first 12K!!!

And amazingly enough, I did not finish last overall!

(I was close, though. Overall, I came in # 171 out of 180, I was # 96 out of 100 women, and I came in last place in my age group.)

But the truly important thing is that I finished it. I saw a woman’s shirt this morning before the race that encouraged me. It said

DLF > DNF > DNS

(Dead Last Finish > Did Not Finish > Did Not Start)

It was a nice reminder. Even if I finish absolute last, at least I finished!

I took a lot more walking breaks than I probably ought, but I needed them. After my scare on Thursday when my calves felt like they were about to declare war on the rest of my body, I knew that pushing myself too hard wouldn’t be good. Plus, it’s not like I’ve been training nonstop the past few weeks like I should have been. I needed to take care of myself, which meant taking walking breaks.

So, I didn’t finish in 80 minutes like I wanted. I didn’t even finish in 90 minutes. I ultimately ran my 12K in 1:37:31, which meant I averaged about a 13:05 mile. And for my first 12K, and especially for not feeling adequately prepared for the race, I’m pretty happy with that time.

Plus it just leaves room for improvement.

All my fears about inclement weather were for naught. The morning was perfect, and I don’t think I could have asked for better running weather.

Sunrise over the registration area.

An early-morning, pre-race view of Lake Minneola.

The Earth Day 12K was a much smaller race than Disney’s Family Fun Run. Between the 12K runners and the 5K runners, there were still a bit fewer than 300 people there to race. That meant that the course didn’t feel congested at all, though it might have helped that I was also trailing almost everyone there.

I arrived early to get my packet and get myself psyched up for the race. I was extremely anxious; I had all kinds of running-related dreams last night. By the time 4AM rolled around, I was ready to start the day. I ate, hydrated, and stretched at home, but I also figured it wouldn’t hurt to do some extra stretches while I was waiting for Theresa to arrive.

I affixed my chip timer…

My chip timer and my New Balance sneakers.

…pinned my bib…

The low number only means I registered early. It did not help me run any faster.

…and waited for Theresa.

Once she arrived and got her packet and shirt, the runners were already beginning to congregate at the starting line, so we hurriedly joined them. I ran with her for about half a mile before (wisely) deciding to hold back a bit and run at my own pace. Lots of runners passed me (obviously, since I came in close to last!), but I didn’t pay much attention to them. After all, this was a race with myself.

I will say this much about this morning’s race: it was a very pretty course. Some of the areas were residential, and I felt awkward about dropping my empty water cups on someones’ lawns (which is why I just carried them to the next water station), but I could admire the water throughout most of my run.

A view of the finish from the halfway point.

Unlike the Family Fun Run, and contrary what the course map led me to believe, there were not little mile markers posted to let me know how far I had gone. In fact, if not for my handy-dandy Garmin (I love that thing!), I wouldn’t have had a clue. (This, by the way, is not good, since those little mile marker thingies work as psychological rallying points for me.)

But the event staff did put out the marker for Mile 6…

The lone mile marker on the course.

…and the Finish Line didn’t seem as far away from this point.

The view of the finish line from the 6-mile mark.

It was still plenty far away, but it just seemed a whole lot closer.

Theresa met me at the edge of the park to cheer me on to the finish. She had already finished (# 45 out of 100 women with a 9:50 mile) but doubled back to wait for me. Is that a great running mentor, or what?

All in all, I feel good. Now that I’ve showered, hydrated, and had a little something to eat, I feel really accomplished, too. I’ve come a long way from when I first began C25K in January. I think I feel just as sore now as I did during that first week, but after completing 7.46 miles, I’ll cut myself some slack.

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