The first (to be annual) Dennis P. Sampson Community 5k was this past Saturday, June 22nd. When the flyer made its way to me several weeks ago, I immediately signed up. In fact, my bib was #16 – I was well within the first batch of registrants. This 5k was challenging for a variety of reasons, and most trying (for me) was the social aspect of the event. Perhaps I have alluded to my discomfort in social situations and my overall and constant state of shyness, but I do not remember having detailed the extent to which I experience my introvertedness.
In my newfound resolution to celebrate the modest wins in life and not focus on my perceived losses / failures, I am not ashamed to share that my finish time was 34:34, according to my Fitbit. Unfortunately, my phone dropped from 100% battery life to 17% in a matter of mere minutes. Therefore, I did not dare utilize Strava, though I delight in the map the app produces based on my activity. By the time the opening ceremony was over, I was clinging to hope and praying that I would have just enough battery to allow me music for the run! Though my overall time was not at its usual, my first mile was 9:36, and therein lies my win! I have never reached a sub-10:00 mile! I can partially attribute this feat to chaos, but I bestow some of the credit upon myself.
With any first event, there are likely going to be kinks. I noticed a few said crimps because they were applicable to the run specifically: a). confusion regarding the location of the starting line, b). the lack of a countdown, and c). no indication that the cue to begin was a siren. Now, for many, a siren sounding off is likely an obvious segway between sedentariness and activity. However, my office is stationed in a police department – sirens are background noise. I learned years ago to stage in the middle of the pack – not with the rabbits, nor with the turtles. This weekend, I was with the rabbits due to a, b, and c. Hence why I wrote, “I have never reached a sub-10:00 mile! I can partially attribute this feat to chaos [ . . . ].”
*Saturday was the 10th annual Poland Spring Heritage Day, the run component was brandy new this year.*
My unfamiliarity with a new course is detrimental to my overall finish time; any time that I run a new race, my time tends to be slower than my norm. This course was one of the most unique I have ever run. I traveled to the Poland Spring Resort expecting a road race, but the terrain was very varied. Knowing the terrain is essential in a successful run (success being up to interpretation). Next year, I know just what I am contending with: pavement, mud, loose gravel, packed gravel, grass, woods / trails, and even a few stairs. I anticipate my time will be less, on this course, this time next year.
Success, by my definition and the expectations I have for myself, are simple: 1). just do it and 2). finish. In talking with Mum, she commented on how proud she is of me, if for no reason other than simply being present at various events. Just three or four years ago, I would not stray from her side while shopping in a store, nor would I have ever conceived running publicly by myself. In fact, when I first began perusing the multitude of 5Ks one may join, I would not register for one if a friend or acquaintance was not also going to be in attendance, even if I really wanted to give it a go. On Friday night, Mum noticed that I was tense because I was going to be going it alone on Saturday, but I went and I did it and I finished. Granted, because I was uncomfortable socially, I scampered off and headed home almost immediately after I crossed the finish line, despite how many activities there were to enjoy.
My social discomfort was not so much due to the number of people present that I did not know, but the number of people there that I did know. As novice as I am in appropriate small talk, I am even poorer at “catching up” small talk. Observation: strangers respect the RBF and tend to leave me to my stretching and mental preparation; people who previously knew me are seemingly oblivious to my social cues. I am fortunate in that though I do contend with social anxiety, I am able to confront it. I will never be mistaken for an extrovert, but I am making strides at being less of a wallflower. In fact, when I reflect on myself now, it is difficult to remember just how timorous I once was.
I am not quite where I would like to be (goal weight, running ability, social agility, etc.), and I have been so focused on the end goal(s), that I have forgotten to take stock in how far I have come. The journey seems far longer when we do not look at the route and evaluate how far we have already traveled along it.