Sunday’s See Jane Run 5k was a strange, strange race for me.  In many ways, it was a guidebook on What Not to Do in Preparation for a Race,and my time was a little disappointing, but I’ve been on such a high since the race, and I’m weirdly happy with it.

My last run before the race was a quick couple of miles on Friday night.  I felt great!  Yay, I start thinking, this race will be awesome!  Except that I was so excited, I couldn’t sleep Friday night.  Or Saturday night.  I would start to drift off, then RACE would pop into my head, and I would be wide awake again.  Boo.  Not only was I not sleeping well, but I was so excited about the race I spent all of Saturday pacing and bouncing and shaking my hands out and just generally spending ungodly amounts of energy being nervous.

So Sunday morning I was heading into the race on about six hours sleep the previous two nights. I got up two and a half hours before race time, and decided that was enough time that I should eat a little something.  I don’t generally eat before my morning runs since I head out the door immediately after I get up, and I was worried that the couple of hours I had between waking and racing would be long enough for me to start to feel hungry.  I had a small bowl of Grape-Nuts, figuring it would at least keep my tummy from rumbling.

My husband and I took the bus to the start line, and once we hopped off about two blocks from the start, I got a huge adrenaline dump.  My heart was racing, I was sweating already, I felt sick and my legs started to shake.  I did a quick warm-up jog and some stretching, dumped my sweats with my husband, and tried to get to the start.

I was unprepared for how many people were at the start line (it’s a small field, but the start is narrow), and how early they would line up.  There were no pace markers along the crowd, so I ended up playing the “How fast does she look” game, which isn’t exactly a science.  Since I wasn’t sure how well I would race, I knew I didn’t want to be right on the line, but I was unhappy with how far back I ended up being when the race started.  After weaving and pushing as far as I could, when the leaders took off (I’d say “when the gun went off”, except I never heard any starting commands, just saw everyone start moving), I was standing next to three women in full face makeup.  In a race.  I mean, there’s nothing about wearing a full face of make up to a race that would necessarily keep someone from running well, it’s just that I’ve never known anyone who did.

I ended up spending the first half mile running on the outside of the pack trying to pass enough people to get with a group at my pace.  The volunteers kept yelling for everyone to get inside the cones, but I ended up dodging around the outside a couple of times to pass people.  My legs felt like some strange mixture of shaky, numb and dead, but my lungs felt fine and I was just chugging along.  All was going well enough, though, and by the turn around, I was on pace for a time in the mid-23s.  I’d hit a group of women who were holding a steady pace that felt good, and I was starting to think of the finish.

Then, in the last half mile, those Grape-Nuts I ate to settle my stomach decided instead to kick my ass.  I could feel my stomach start to churn and clench, and I thought, “There is no way that my first time puking in a race is going to be today”.  Except, of course, that it was.  It wasn’t horrible, and I managed to get to the side of the course and not puke on the nice looking woman in front of me, but still.  Puked in the race.  Bah.

After that I started to feel a little sorry for myself, and trudged more than kicked to the finish line in 24:37.

I’ve not totally sure why I feel so happy looking back on a race with a meh time in which I threw up.  But I am super thrilled with this weekend.  I love racing, and mostly I’m just glad to be back out there.

Still I’ve learned a few lessons for my next race (the 5k at the San Francisco Marathon on July 29):

1) Calm the fuck down.  I think this will mostly take care of itself.  I’ve gotten a race under my belt, and I think the inexperience nerves will go away.

2) Eat less substantial meals before a race.  I think my original though, that two and a half hours is too long to go without eating for me, was correct, but in the future, maybe I’ll just stick with a banana.

3) Have a little more confidence in my abilities, and get closer to the start line at the beginning.  I spent way too much time dodging around people who I already suspected were slower than I am even before the race began.  The hassle of weaving through so many people is greater than the embarrassment I might feel fading after an overly ambitious start.

So that’s it.  I’m back.  In 24:37.  Feels good.