Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run… Set the gear shift for the high gear of your soul, you gotta run like an antelope out of control!
Yesterday I ran my first race ever, and a day later, I am steal beaming from the excitement of it! My knees are not as happy as the rest of me, but overall, I am feeling good and am looking forward to training for more runs in the future.
It all started about two weeks ago when I heard a rumor that a 10k race would be held as part of the Samoan Independence celebrations. Being a former athlete, I immediately took to the idea and started talking about how much fun it would be. I did not think much about training, telling myself that 6 miles is nothing. In hindsight, it would have been a good idea to do some training. I will keep that in mind for future races. However, I did not go at it cold. Over the past two weeks I did do a few runs, mostly 5k’s, but never much more than that. So to go from 5 to 10, I was a bit concerned.
The night before the race the PC office was bustling with other Peace Corps who had come to town to run the race. Lili and I made customized outfits to run in, naming ourselves’ “Team Rock the Nation.” We figured looking good was half the battle. I don’t think we were wrong being that we each finished the race! We all “carb-loaded,” eating hefty portions of pasta and bread, hydrated to the max, and called it an early night.
I awoke at 5:30am, chugged a bottle of water, ate half a Cliff Bar, strapped on my shoes, and was out the door by 5:45am. We met with the other Peace Corps in the office and then all walked over together. Kyle, Lili, and myself represented group ’82. Group ’81 had a strong showing with Joey B (aka coach), AJ, Dan, Matt L, and Phil. Joey C represented for group ’80. With Casey and Chris cheering us on, we left the starting line at precisely 6:30am, each with our own personal goals in mind. For me, it was to finish in about an hour. Lili just wanted to complete the race, and the boys were in it to win it.
The course left Apia heading out to the east, and after 15 minutes running through town we met the sea and ran along the beach road. It was early enough that not too many cars were on the roads, but an occasional bus or taxi would pass by and offer a ride, not understanding why anyone would possibly want to run anywhere just for the fun of it. The sun rose over the ocean as we ran and although I began questioning why I had decided to run, I got into the zone about halfway through the race and really enjoyed everything past the turn around point. When I rounded the corner to the finish line I saw all the people cheering me on including our Peace Corps and JICA friends, both runners and supporters, and it felt great to pass the line and know that I had completed a 10k race. I was handed a chilled niu (coconut) with a straw, and a immediately drank it, followed by another, and then another. Next race will be the Island Run, where teams of 6 run the circumference of Upolu Island. I can’t wait. Let the training begin!