i made the mistake of watching the finish line for the 5K. they had started at 7:30AM; my 10K was to start an hour later. there was a stream of runners, one after another, who were finishing their race averaging a 5 minute mile! i was already doubting my ability to *finish* a 10K; now i was fearing that i'd also be among the last to finish. the obvious running amateur.
around 8:15AM, i made my way to the starting line, began to stretch, and tried to clear my mind a bit. there were hundreds of people lined up, many in groups. there was a lot friendly cajoling among the runners, all confident, all fun. no apparent nerves like mine.
once the race began, runner after runner passed me as we all began to establish our respective paces. a group of fire fighters were running in a block, each with his last name emblazoned on the back of his helmet, chanting what sounded like a funny running jingle. when i passed the one mile mark, i was surprised to have run it much more quickly than i had anticipated. (subsequent miles would be slower!)
the second mile was around a small lake in a local park. i saw ducks placidly swimming, swans stretching out their wings. by the end of the second mile, i was greeted with a small cup of water. the third mile began up a hill. i thought i could probably walk the hill faster than i was "running," but i kept on running.
miles four and five were a familiar blur, but in the sixth, i felt my excitement grow. this was my last mile, and at that point i knew that i could make it. toward the end of that last mile, i saw my mom aiming at me with her camera phone, and, closer to the finish line, joseph, and my dad furiously snapping pictures.
i ran through the finish line feeling exhilarated and a little bit proud of myself.