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Last Sunday, I ran a 5K.  My first 3+ mile run since 2004.  It.Was.Awesome.

As the summer was winding down, I was feeling pretty confident: I had really committed to working out and eating right most of the summer, I saw visible results, and I was feeling pretty darn good in my skin.  This was huge for me.  So when I stumbled across CGI’s inaugural Central Jersey Perfect 10 Miler, and realized that it was basically in my neighborhood, I registered on a whim.  I picked this race because it was SO CLOSE to my house and it was all women.  I don’t particularly know why that aspect appealed to me, but I think it goes back to 5th grade PE when gym class turned into my worst nightmare and the very distinct differences between how girls and boys approached sports turned me off forever.  I don’t need therapy at all.

As a rookie, I obviously have a lot to learn about race-day prep and organization and protocol – especially with these really large, organized events.  Here are a few of my lessons learned:

It's 6am.  Still dark.  Coffee in hand.  Ready.
It’s 6am. Still dark. Coffee in hand. Ready.

1) Prepare.  I had a few road blocks in September (laziness is a personal problem, FYI) and I wasn’t as prepared as I wanted to be.  As of the day before the race, I could still only knock out 2 miles on the treadmill in about 30 minutes.  Not good.  As the event approaches, know where you’re going, know when to pick up the packets, know what’s in the packet.  Need a map? Need parking info?  Get it.

2) CGI is a giant organization.  I may have been better off choosing a smaller, local, more charitable, less competitive event.  That being said, this was a really nice and fairly well-run event.  They picked a great location, there were tons of clean porta potties (at an all girls race, it’s important.), the post-race food buffet was delish.  I had a hard time identifying staff and volunteers – I wish they had been a little bit better about the “where to go” set up.  For example, at the end of the race, there was apparently a photo-op by a big “I’m a Perfect 10” sign – I didn’t even see this, had no idea, and missed it.  Boo.

3) Speak up.  Had I put on my big girl panties and been a little braver, I probably could have avoided feeling lost.  Live and learn.

4) Do it with a friend.  While I’m pretty proud of myself for registering and showing up solo, it would have been so much better with a group of friends.  So, **cough cough**, co-blogger, take note.  Also, bring along a little cheering section.  You’ll need someone to hold your bag.

5) Be present and positive and participate.  I was really feeling the vibe of the women-only event: people were really nice and welcoming and supportive.  The teams went all out with matching gear, crazy costumes, tutus and feather boas.  I have no idea how one runs 10 miles in a tutu because my headphones were pissing me off by mile marker 2.  I high-fived everyone that offered a hand.  At one point, just past mile marker 3, there were 2 very obvious husbands (pink backpacks and other telling signs) decked out in Penn State sweatshirts (this was the morning after PENN STATE BEAT MICHIGAN AND MICHIGAN SUCKS FOREVER) so I gave a loud WE ARE, got an awesome PENN STATE in return, and got a few “keep going” cheers.  Hello, motivation.

Not too shabby.  I'll take it!!
Not too shabby. I’ll take it!!

6) Pace yourself.  Huge thanks to Mary and GymBuddyTara who reminded me that I was not out to win (like I could) and I should not get too far out of my comfort zone. I positioned myself in the back third of the pack and kept a pretty regular pace throughout.  I surprised myself by actually running the whole course, not a single walked step, and coming in just one minute over my race goal of 35 minutes.

 

 

 

Like tiny tots soccer, everyone gets a medal.
Like tiny tots soccer, everyone gets a medal.

7) Own it.  All in all, it was an extremely rewarding and gratifying experience and I really loved it.  I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve been pretty proud of myself all week.  I texted everyone I know a screen shot of my race results.  I may or may not have been posing and calling myself a Perfect 10 all week, which isn’t annoying my husband at all.   AND THE BEST PART.  BigC was so, so excited when I brought home an actual race medal, that she asked to take it to show and tell this week so she could tell everyone that I won a race.  (Heads up daycare staff, I did not actually win anything.)

 

So there you go, kids.  I’ve got the 5K bug and can’t wait to do another one next year.  And I’ll be pestering all of you to join the merritt&mary “not quite spectacular” team with me.  I’ll get us t-shirts 🙂

PS – I built a kick ass race day playlist and learned that Florence and the effing Machine were my race-pace jam.  So there’s that.  Random.

 

 

 

 

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Also a transplant to New Jersey and Mercer County, Merritt McGlynn is walking a tightrope between career woman and devoted mother: hanging on for dear life with her dishpan hands. Merritt is a mom to two of the most adorable children in Jersey: a darling and spunky 4-year-old and a certifiably insane but heart-melting almost-3-year-old. Married to the always-working "Coach", Merritt tries to maintain some appearance of a work-life balance, and often finds that the scales are usually tipped in one direction or the other - but she’s still trying! In her spare time, if she ever gets any, Merritt would like to read books, travel with her husband, drink margaritas on the deck, and one day, if she’s really lucky, enjoy a phone conversation without interruptions. For now, she’ll settle for 20 minutes of an Audrey Hepburn movie and a diet coke.

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