Things I Learned from My First 10K

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I ran my first 10k this past weekend, and I learned a lot of things.

1. Don’t be afraid to go it alone sometimes. This 10k was not only my first 10k ever, but it was also the first time I have run any race alone. I went to the race alone, ran the race alone, and left the race alone. And it was awesome. I was very apprehensive of feeling lonely, out of place, or awkward, but I ended up feeling independent, empowered, and sure of myself.

2. Listen to your body when you train. About two months before this race, I got an annoying (and painful) calf strain which basically prevented me from running for a month. Here I was, getting in great shape for my 10k, but paralyzed from continuing to run my training plan. I made friends with the elliptical at my gym in order to maintain some level of cardio fitness, and waited impatiently to feel well enough to run again.

marianne_talley_fun_run_10k_43. Prepare for the terrain. This particular 10k was hilly, winding through vineyards and farmland on soft dirt roads. It was beautiful but challenging since I had never run more than a mile or two off-road before. If I had prepared better, I would have done some of  my training in a similar setting.

4. Start slow. When the gun went off, probably 90% of the group went out at a fast pace. It’s exciting! Adrenaline is pumping! We had been waiting nearly an hour and the anticipation had been building to a breaking point. The only issue with going out so fast is that it may cause you to fatigue faster. I went out slowly and felt demoralized by the huge wave of runners quickly passing me, but 10-20 minutes in, I was passing them, which reminded me that I did the right thing.

5. Adopt a pack. Since I was flying solo, it was helpful for me to latch onto other groups and run with them. That helped me set a good pace and for some reason (psychological) made it feel easier. At times I would break away and be by myself again, but usually gliding from pack to pack.

6. Don’t be scared to ask questions. The course had a few forks in the path, and since the run was both a 5k and a 10k, it was important that I stuck with the correct route. There were a few times when I had to ask a sideline volunteer “Is this the right way for the 10k?” just to be sure I hadn’t taken a wrong turn.

7. Post-run requires walking and shade. After pushing myself so hard to get to that finish line, I was sweaty, tired, and feeling way overheated. It was tempting to just collapse in the grass near the finish line by all the other tired runners, but I took a lap. I walked slowly around for about ten minutes until I could feel my heart rate slowing. Then I promptly got some water, fresh strawberries, and found a patch of shade to help prevent me from getting heat exhaustion.

8. Nothing tastes better than strawberries after a run. Okay, so this is different for everyone, but after I finished, I found that tables of post-run snacks were set up; orange slices, pastries, and strawberries. Never have I ever tasted anything more delicious, refreshing, and all together life-changing than those strawberries.

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