My First Ever Organized Race (2003!)!!!

Hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi!

As I keep thinking about this Just Me 5K idea, I started to think what first got me into running.

Growing up, my sister was very into sports and I was really not.  I was a real tubber and my mom bought my clothes in the HUSKY department.  I was nerd in high school, but I medium liked tennis and made it on to the JV tennis team (despite the fact that I almost died on the 1-mile run during try-outs – my very first running fail).

Things started to turn around in college.  I made friends with runners and started to love going for runs around our beautiful campus.  And then in my junior year, my friend MARTI MITTMAN trained for and ran the Chicago Marathon.  This was the very first time I ever EVER experienced any kind of organized running race.  It was thrilling – so much excitement – and so many different body types crossing the finish line.  I’ll never forget watching an overweight 60 year-old cross the finish line and then tell the crowd “I need a cigarette.”  This is when I knew I could run a marathon.

It took me five years to muster the courage to sign up for one.  I’d moved from Chicago to Miami for a job and had no friends, so I started running again because I had nothing else to do.  Like most first-time marathoners, this idea started out as a new year’s resolution.  On January 1, 2003 – I signed up for the Chicago Marathon.  I printed off a training guide and worked backwards from October – giving myself ample time to build up mileage.

As part of the training plan, I needed to add on some practice races. I found this Deering 15K which was run through the Charles Deering estate. I remember being so panicked about it that I drove the route the day before so I could familiarize myself with it – that’s about 9 miles worth of slow, weird driving through a sleepy Miami neighborhood.

My only other memory from my first race was the total exhaustion and relief at the finish line. I couldn’t believe that I just ran my longest distance and it gave me the sense that I might actually finish that marathon (which I did about 6 months later).

There were no medals from that first race. The only thing I have still is my first ever race bib and it is still one of my most prized possessions.

Its memories like these that I hope to continue to make moving forward – whether in organized races or my own silly just-me runs.

Do y’all remember your first races? What did you love about it? Did you keep any souvenirs?

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