10k in Tokyo

10455440_10203236137277349_5273086209704016296_nWould anyone ever believe me if I said I had never raced a 10km before?  Well, truth be told, I never had until this summer.

This season was not intended for the ‘Year of Firsts’, however, it has been, so with this, I guess you could call it my second rookie season.  After a year off from racing, I entered 2014 with my first bike race, my first trail race, and now my first 10k road race.  It is a great reward to find once again my love for racing by trying new distances and types of racing.

Every country I travel to, whether it be for business or pleasure, it is essential to find a race, and with that I had the choice of a 2.5 or 5km (too short for the distance traveled to get there), 10km (not my ideal), 21 or 42km (not in shape for either).  So I guess the choice was automatically narrowed down for me, and there I was, left with my arch nemesis of distances – the 10km.  Pick 8 or 15 and I would have mentally and physically known how to pace myself, but for some reason I have never been able to figure out how to pull of a 10km.  As a result, I have avoided the distance like the plague of all road races.

This unusual event was like the track and field of road races.  Families brought picnics and tents to make a day event of this multi-distance, all day event.   Starting on a track, making multi-loops around this beautiful park, this little local race was to raise money for the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami.

After spending a winter in India, I am very unconscious of the conservative nature of clothing women wear when it comes to working out and racing.  And although I am a true believer of less is best when it comes to racing in 90F/32C degrees in the beating sun, I am also aware that I had to get my way back to my hotel, which was about 5km away from the race site.  I prefer to draw the lease amount of attention as possible when walking down streets of foreign countries, so I chose to dress Asian style – long black tights and black top (let’s be smart and make it as hot and uncomfortable as possible when exerting a massive amount of energy in the heat.)  The only thing I could not bear was covering my arms; I believe I would have overheated and died had I done that.  Although, I did bring a scarf and throw in the bushes, so I could cover them on my way back to the hotel.

11:00 a.m. – My race started.  4 laps (2.5km each)  around the park, passing through the track stadium on each round.  No shade.  Not a cloud in the sky.  Lap 1 – My start was conservative, given I had gotten off a plane from the US 12 hours previous.  Lap 2 – I started to make my slow and steady passes, one after another.  Lap 3 – Starting to have those conversations in my head, reminding me why I never race this distance…it hurts…really, it hurts.  But here, we go, one last lap.  At this point you have a choice to make.

Choice – it is something we all have.  The choices we make is what helps us forge the path we create throughout our life.  We can choose the easy way or challenge ourselves, and while it may not be easy at the time, the reward on the other side often is greater.

As much as I wanted to ease off on this lap, in this race that really didn’t count for anything on my racing resume, I made a choice to push harder; to hurt more.  Picking off 3 more women on that last lap landed me 7th place overall women in my very first 10km race ever.  The girl who sucked (really) at cross country.  The girl who has always struggled to run a stand alone road race not only conquered her first 10km race with a top 10 finish, but pulled off a jet-lagged negative split run.

There wasn’t a single second of the race that was easy.  But I made a choice to take on an overcome, and I did just that.  Just don’t be looking for me to be doing another one any time soon.
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