I did it. I ran a 10K (as part of the Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio) and it was so much fun. I never in my life thought I’d be able to run farther than 3 miles, and I’d never run a race before. Although I didn’t run the whole 6.2 miles, I ran more than 5 miles of the race and the parts I didn’t run were giant, very long hills. The picture above is my bib from the 5K I walked with my mom. I didn’t get a lot of pictures of my 10K because I forgot my camera in my car so the ones I do have are from my mom’s camera.
*Just a quick note – you don’t have to be a military member to compete in this race, and it’s also a Boston qualifier.
It was COLD that morning, so the outfit I had picked out got scrapped in favor of my sister’s long sleeve high school honors kid shirt.
One thing I learned from this race is to check the program and layout before you head to the race. In the long walk from parking to the race area there were maybe five toilets. This had people freaking out, and waiting in lines that were at least 30 minutes long. I had to go, so I jumped in one line and was seriously worried I was going to miss the race.
Luckily my dad works on that part of the base and had checked the layout ahead of time so he informed me there were at least 100 porta-potties near the start line. Boy was he right! There were 13,000 registered runners for the Air Force Marathon (including all the half marathoners, 10Kers and 5Kers), so they had toilets to spare!
Even better (for me) was that hardly any people knew about these so most were empty! They definitely should have posted signs along the walk to tell people about this cache of toilets.
I’m so glad I picked the USAF Marathon as my first race because it was great! It takes place outside the United States Air Force Museum, so they have a lot of planes parked along the last stretch of the finish lines along with dozens of mini American flags.
The 10K runners started with the full marathoners. There were a few thousand half marathoners so they had to start an hour later. A B1-B Lancer did a flyover just before the gun went off to start, and a couple people were chanting USA! USA! So funny. Brits always laugh when Americans do that!
It took me about two minutes to reach the start line. Our bibs were chipped, but I also brought a stop watch so I could have an indicator of my general time.
First mile went smoothly. I had to keep telling myself that I’d run many single miles and not been tired, so this was no different. I didn’t even think about the 5.2 miles after.
At the end of the first mile the dreaded hill started. It lasted about 3/4 of a mile I think. There were marathoners running up the hill, and running straight past me. I felt like a loser for walking up the hill when so many people were running it, but I had to tell myself I wasn’t competing with anyone, and I certainly wasn’t competing with people who had trained for a marathon!
At mile 3 I started to get really tired, but between 3-4 it was almost entirely downhill so I decided to run it all. Once I got to 4 I thought, “Well, I know I can fairly easily run 2 miles, so I’m going to just finish this.”
At around mile 4 I fell into pace with another woman in her 50s. I’ve read a lot of race recaps on blogs so I hear this happens a lot – you’ll fall into pace with someone toward the end of the race and you help each other push through.
I was so happy for this to have happened to me because it was really nice to have someone to talk to and I really don’t think I would have been able to run the rest of the 2.2 miles without her. She really motivated me and I needed it because around mile 5 it was just painful. My legs hurt SO badly and I wanted nothing more than to walk.
Even still, I sprinted the whole last stretch. All the airplanes lining the finish line that I’d previously thought were so cool – I didn’t even notice them as I was sprinting to the finish line.
I know I look a bit dumb here, but I wanted to show you my medal because I thought they were awesome.
My parents greeted me at the finish line with a pumpkin donut because I can’t get pumpkin flavored delicacies in England!
When we crossed the finish line they put a medal around our neck and gave us a blanket to warm up. Then we got the normal water, fruit, energy drink and … PIZZA!!
With my mom after the 5K race.
Next year’s Air Force Marathon is Sept 12 I think, so if you’re in the Midwest definitely check it out. It’s so. much. fun.