On Saturday, October 1st, I ran my first official 10K!!! This race was full of let downs, frustrations, stress, nervousness, good times, and accomplishments.
Friday, September 30th
I was a nervous ball of energy. All I could think about was how unprepared I was for this race. While I tapered my workouts throughout the week to ensure that I wouldn’t be too sore to run 6.2 miles I did not eat as clean as I would have liked (I blame this on the fact that I am human and sometimes I just want the easy option even though it is packed with gluten, dairy, and corn). I worry that food has too much of an effect on my body because of my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Scared that I would have a migraine on race day along with a number of other aliments I thought about skipping this race, however looking back on things now I am so glad that I didn’t.
Saturday, October 1st
Lesson #1 that I learned was that while the idea of signing up for a night race seems like a good idea a month prior to race day in reality it is not a good idea. Well it was not a good idea for my first 10K ever. From the moment I woke up on Saturday until the 7pm start time I did nothing but worry about running. As my brother and I drove to the race we laughed about how we thought it was such a good idea when we signed up because we wouldn’t have to wake up around 6am on a Saturday but now we were ready to be done.
Lesson #2 keep your registration confirmation email in your inbox so you can easily access it if need be at packet pickup. Since The Lantern Run only does packet pick up on race day at the location my brother and I arrived about an hour and 20 minutes before start time. This way we would have plenty of time to park, get out packets, go back to the car to drop off anything we did not want to carry during the run, and be at the starting line before go time. One of the best parts of this race was that parking was very convenient. We parked just a few feet from the finish line and a short walk to packet pickup. As we approached the L-P table the young girl asked us for our last name. Kevin responded, “Nelson, Kevin and Kelly Nelson”. She flipped through a couple pages until she found the N’s then she eyed down to only see Kevin Nelson on her list. “I only see Kevin Nelson” she nervously whispered knowing that this news could send us into a terrible rage. It was as if time stopped the instant I heard this horrible news. I know for a fact that I registered for this race. I know that the money came out of my checking account as I monitor my account like a hawk. So how was I not on the list. “If you go to our merchandise table they can assist you with clearing this up” squeaked the young lady. I thanked her and made my way over to the suggested table.
At the merchandise table I informed the first lady who was free that my name was not on the list however I know I registered for the race. She quickly informed me that I would have to speak with a lady who was currently assisting someone else. So anxiously I stood in line to speak with this third lady. When it was my turn she asked if I had registered through Groupon to which I informed her that I had registered through Active.com. As she looked at something on her phone I started scrolling through my emails in hopes that I didn’t delete my confirmation email however sure enough I must of cause I could not find that email. Luckily the lady told me she fond me and gave me a bib number, race shirt, and glow stick glasses.
Parking and going through the ordeal of packet pickup only took at most 30 minutes so Kevin and I had about 50 minutes to hang around before the start of the race. With this time we changed into our new race shirts, put on our bib numbers, and dropped unwanted items in the car. Then we hung around the amphitheater listening to the music the DJ was playing and stretching. As it grew closer to the start time more people made their way into the amphitheater.
Finally, after brutally waiting all day for this race to start it was time. Kevin and I were pretty close to the starting line as the gun went off (well there wasn’t an actual gun fired but you know what I mean). With the crowd we took off at a quick pace. As I looked down at my Garmin to check our pace I could see it was at 9 min/mile (way too quick for me to maintain for too much longer) so I informed Kevin we needed to slow down and pace ourselves. By the time we reached the first mile the crowd had spread out so by this point it was easier to maintain a decent pace without feeling as if you need to keep up with the runner in front.
The first water station was located at 1.5 mile mark. Kevin and I slowed to a walk long enough to grab a cup and drink it then we were back running around our 10:15 min/mile pace. Lesson #3 it is easier to drink water on the go if you pinch the lips of the cup together. What this does is it narrows the area the water can come out down so that you are not just pouring water on your whole face.
When we reached the 2.5 mile mark there were race volunteers directing runners. Those who were doing the 5K were to take the fork to the right while those of us doing the 10K were to take the fork to the left. At this point we were practically at the halfway point and I was excited because I was still going strong. However by the time my Garmin notified me that I reached 3.1 miles I stopped. My left foot was completely numb and I need a moment to catch my breath. Kevin and I walked about .2 miles before we started running again. Also, at this point the sun had gone down and the path was dark as it winded through the park area. We ran under an overpass and I thought of how glad I was Kevin was running with me because it was so dark and I was afraid someone could attack and I would never see them coming.
Its a whole different experience running in the dark. I feel like I started to become so much more aware of every step I took. What if I stepped in a whole and break my ankle I worried as I kept running at the 10:10 min/mile pace we were at. However when I wasn’t busy worrying about injuring myself I realized how beautiful this park was at night. It was peaceful. Every now and then we would see runners coming right at us and it didn’t take us long to realize that there was going to be a point where we would turn around and run back.
The 2nd water station was at about 4.25 mile mark which was also where we had to turn around and run back towards the 5K/10K split. Kevin and I both grabbed cups of water and started walking. We decided to walk for .25 mile then try to run until the end non stop. As we walked we joked that we should start telling runner we pass that we took a wrong turn and we needed to head back. As we laughed a runner a few feet ahead of us turned around and told us that he did make a wrong turn. Apparently he was one of the 5K runners who didn’t know which fork to take and choose wrong. His story gets even better as you see this was suppose to be his first 5K ever. He was just wanting to run a 5K within 30 minutes, which I think he would of met that goal. We told him what a badass he was for going for the 10K during his first race ever and that he should ask for the 10K medal at the finish line since he had no choice at this point but to finish the 10K course. Once we reached the 4.5 mile mark Kevin and I said bye to our new friend and started running again. Lesson #4 you never know who you are going to meet at these races so don’t be shy go ahead and talk to strangers who knows you might just get a good laugh out of their stories. (Nick if you by chance read this you sir are a badass and I am glad you walked and talked with us for a bit).
Up until the 5.5 mile mark I was going strong only walking a few bits but by this point I was struggling. Kevin was ready to sprint to the finish line and I was ready to crawl to the finish line. I think what made this last part so hard was that I couldn’t see the actual finish line until we were about .2 mile away from it. While I knew in my head I was close I just couldn’t see it so it was hard to keep my spirits up as my body ached. I cannot iterate how badly I just wanted to stop and walk to the finish line. Thanks to Kevin encouraging me to keep going I didn’t give into my urge to stop. I remember thinking how I will never run a 10K again because my body hurt, I was tired, it was dark, and other bad things. But in the midst of my negative thought process the finish line came into view and just like that all my negative thoughts left as I “sprinted” the last little bit to the finish line. When I say “sprinted” to me it was a sprint as it was as quick as I could get my body to move at the time however to on lookers I most likely looked like I was running at a moderate pace.
There at the finish line I was so happy I actually came to the race and gave it my all. While I did not reach my goal of running this 10K in 1 hour and 3 minutes I was not that far off as I completed this race in 1 hour and 7 minutes. Now I know I said that I never wanted to run another 10K during the tail end of this one but now that I survived and feel the adrenaline of accomplishing my first 10K I am ready to sign up for another in hopes to beat my time.
Pros & Cons of The Lantern Run
- Night run meaning no early morning wake up required
- Convenient parking, which was right by the finish line
- Beautiful park area you run through
- Food trucks at finish line
- Lots of free snacks given away at the finish line
- Some areas of the course were really dark could be a safety hazard
- Packet Pickup was bad if you registered through a third party vendor
- They started taking down the course signs and lanterns at the hour mark which seemed to me to be too early to start closing down a 10K
- Instead of a finish medal you get a paper lantern (some people might see this as a pro but for me I wanted medal)
While there were moments of frustration with this race I am already looking back on it with fond memories. This will always be my first 10K, which is something that no other race will be able to take away from it. I am glad that I ran this race as I learned so much about race organizations and about myself. I am stronger than I give myself credit and before I know it I will be crossing the finish line at my first half marathon. Finally, it was the encouragement I received throughout the week from coworkers, family, friends, and social media that helped give me the motivation I needed to cross the finish line, because honestly I didn’t want to let these people down.
After running 6.2 miles Kevin and I treated ourselves to some In-N-Out as we totally earned!!!