Today, I ran the Windermere 5K in Cumming, GA. While I’ve run longer distances, I was nervous because I twisted my foot earlier in the week and thought that I’d have to skip the race altogether. Fortunately, I rested my foot over the past few days and felt comfortable giving the race a try.
I lined up at 7:30 am and anxiously waited to hear the announcer yell “go” to the crowd of 100+ runners. As soon as I heard the words, I quickly jumped to the front of the line but I quickly got this odd feeling as my heart started pounding at what felt like a 100 miles an hour. A good part of my nervousness was driven by my thoughts about foot — was it going to hurt or was it going to carry me through the race? Once I realized that my foot was solid, I focused on the run and stayed within my pace. And as I hit the first mile, I unexpectedly found myself outside of the pack for the first time. I realized how the pack helps me gauge my progress and pace. Being outside of the pack, I noticed that there was no real feedback so I decided to just go as fast as my body would take me.
I found the feeling of being out of the pack unusually exhilarating. I stayed focused — watching my pace and looking back every so often to determine if any other runners were catching up to me. Once I started climbing the final hill of the race, I noticed how my brain became poisoned with the idea of taking a short break but I immediately talked myself out of it. And as soon as the finish line was in sight, I picked up the pace and hurled my body over the line clocking in at 20:50 for a 3.1 mi run, my best time for a 5K.
And while I’m darn proud of my 7 minute per mile pace, I was actually more proud of the unexpected lesson that I learned today that is applicable to running as much as development and entrepreneurship: you shouldn’t be afraid of getting out of the pack. The course and goal remains the same so first focus on pulling away from your competition and then just go!