Throwback Thursday: My first real race.

One thing I really love about Instagram is the way you can group certain photos under a unique hashtag (#). Granted Insta has been around for awhile now so sometimes finding that unique tag can be a little challenging. I just did a search for the most random thing I could think of and did you know that #mashedpotatobonanza is already taken? Sad. Looks like I’ll never be able to have my own personal mashed potato bonanza.

I lucked out with a hashtag for my Betty and also for running. Betty’s tag has 380 photos listed under it starting from her birth. I regularly look through them and get all emo over how much she’s grown. My running tag has 132 pictures listed under it. The first one was posted exactly 60 weeks ago. I was SO PROUD of that run! 5 miles was a huge distance for me back then. My Garmin was only a week old.

photo 1

Anyway, I was looking fondly through the running pictures last night and came upon another one that brought back a flood of awesome memories.

photo 2

56 weeks ago I posted that photo after I ran in my first real race, a 10K called Run in the Sun for Autism. I consider it my first real one even though I had run in two events prior;  a 5K in 2005 and another one in 2010. I didn’t train for either of those races…like I literally signed up and arrived to the starting line without taking a step in preparation for them. And then there was the 5K I registered for in 2007, but then decided on race morning that sleeping was a better use of my time.

I was so NOT a runner back then.

Run in the Sun was the first event I ever really trained for. It was July of last year and I had only been running for a couple months. I wanted to sign up for something, but I also really wanted to challenge myself. I knew what a 5K was like. Back then 6.2 miles seemed like an insurmountable distance.

I carefully added mileage on each week and I could not have possibly been more prepared. It was a small race located at Patterson Park down in Baltimore City. I remember being SO NERVOUS! I also remember being SO HOT. Last summer was much muggier weather-wise than what we’ve experienced this year.

There was also a 5K that day that would be one lap of the course while we would be doing two. The course was nice, but really poorly organized. Somewhere along the line there was a volunteer missing and we all ended up getting lost so in the end the 10K would be a little short and I felt a little robbed of the experience. I had trained so hard and didn’t get to run the full 6.2 miles. I was still super proud of my time though! (As is evident from that sweaty Insta-shot above!)


#Beastmode indeed. 🙂

Since Run in the Sun just over a year ago I have participated in 22 races of varying distances. Thinking about everything that has happened from then to now – the setbacks I’ve had and the how much I’ve grown as a runner – completely blows my mind. That 10K lit a fire in me and I never want it to stop burning.

Tell me about your first race! What distance was it and do you have fond memories? Do you have an Instagram account? Shout it out in the comments so we can all follow each other!




66 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: My first real race.

  1. Kimberley@Black Dog Runs Disney says:

    Crikey it was so long ago! I was a freshman in high school and for some insane reason thought it would be fun to join the cross country team. After two years of it, I decided enough was enough and started speed skating. On ROLLER SKATES! Who ever thought a couple of decades later I’d be totally addicted to the pavement? Coach Roberts would be so proud. 🙂 And I’d be more than happy to follow everyone on IG! You can find me at @szzllips.

  2. northernambitions says:

    Wow it’s amazing how far you’ve come. From no races to tons and kicking butt at them. My first significant race (as in the one I trained for) was a half marathon over Thanksgiving with my sister and friend. It was so much fun training with them, running the race and then gorging on delicious food afterwards. I remember thinking it was an impossible goal at the time I signed up and when I crossed the finish line I was so so proud of myself.

  3. Michele @ PaleoRunningMomma says:

    My first race was a 5k and I was so nervous! I’m not sure why exactly since I had been running for years at that point but it was a big crowd and it intimidated me! Really great memories though. I wish I had started an instagram account sooner but I’m pretty bad with taking pictures and even now seem to only remember to do it for food and running. Having those older pictures is so cool 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      Having so many spectators definitely adds to the nervousness! I used to be afraid to get on the treadmill at the gym because I didn’t like people seeing me run. I felt so awkward!

  4. Kristin says:

    I love your first race recap!! How fabulous!! You’re awesome and so cute!!I love that picture!! XOXO!!
    My first race was the Thanksgiving Day 5k. I did it with my husband and his family. It was one of their traditions. The course wasn’t flat and we had to run over lots of pebbles and stuff. I was so intimidated.
    Back then, I swam and lifted weights and also fast walked some every now and then when my husband would run, but I never ran much at all. My goal was to not walk during the 5k (to try to run the whole race). Well, that didn’t happen, but I still ended up around an 8:25-8:30 pace. I was so proud of myself because even with a little walking, ended up 4th in my age. That’s when I first started believing that I was stronger than I thought.
    Have a great day!! XOXO!! Thanks for the walk down memory lane!!

  5. Desiree @ RunSmiling says:

    What a fun post to look back at the beginning of your running journey. My first race was back in highschool cross country — many many many years ago 🙂 I literally just got on instagram. I really just like the filters, still trying to figure out the social media part of it but I learned a couple of things from your post so thanks!

  6. Mar on the Run! says:

    nice throwback!!! so awesome… we’re already following each other on Insta but my first race was a 10K that I finished in 1:08 in cross trainers, and tons of fleece… haha! who knew I’d shave nearly 20 minutes off that time and I’d be running/racing like a fool!

  7. fitfoodiemama says:

    Love this!!! Your first real race is a lot like your first real kiss. I remember mine well too and am excited to run my first half in Vegas this Nov because I know it will be something I never forget!! Also, I think it is important to recognize how far we have come from where we have started instead of comparing to others, much like you I would not have ever imagined a year ago running the distances I am now!

    • runsaltrun says:

      You will never ever forget that experience! My first half is something I’m going to hold very dear to my heart forever. I’m excited to revisit it in October.

      I totally agree with you! The only person we should be comparing ourselves to is our old self. 🙂 We’ve made some amazing strides!

  8. DarlinRae says:

    My first “real” race was a Turkey Trot in November 2012. I had done the Color Run previously, but that wasn’t timed. This Turkey Trot was a fundraiser for a community center serving people with special needs, and over 1200 runners showed up on Thanksgiving morning. It was a beautiful course, Ben ran with me (I beat him!), and I averaged 10 minute miles the whole way, which for me, at the time, was huge. It felt amazing, and I’m hoping to run it again this Thanksgiving–and beat my time, of course 😉

    • runsaltrun says:

      Woo hoo you beat Ben!! 😀 That’s so awesome and for such a good cause too. That is an amazing pace for your first 5k! I have yet to revisit a race and try to beat my old time, but I’m definitely looking forward to trying this fall!

  9. Corinne says:

    My first race was… know, I really don’t know exactly. I’ve done so many 5k runs/walks over the years, with varying levels of preparedness. So I guess the first real thing I trained for would be the Cap City half marathon back in May 2013…..but my training was a tad bit lacking. That race sucked BUT I finished it in 3:09:38 (yes I looked it up). At least I finished! The next one I completed in 2:54:01, which is my official PR I’m training to beat this time around! Seriously, who would’ve thought that I’d actually do legit running on a regular basis now?! Thanks for the walk down memory lane 😉

    Find me on IG as cori_oreo!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Isn’t it crazy? If you had told younger me that I would be so into this, I would have laughed. Running or anything athletic at all was just not my thing. Good luck beating that PR! I bet you’re going to do it. 🙂

  10. Movin' it with Michelle says:

    My first 5K was…um…a gazillion years ago-1995 maybe? And that doesn’t count junior/high school track. My first distance race was in 2007 when I finished my first half…first full in 2012. My IG is MovinitwMichelle ❤ #keepmovinforward

  11. SuzLyfe says:

    I love thinking about my first real race, and even more so about my first half. The nerves, the not knowing what to do with myself, then the joy of surprizing myself after really not knowing what to expect. Bigger and better things, my dear!!!!

    • runsaltrun says:

      I love love love that last part…the surprise at how it all went because the situation was so unexpected. I definitely felt that during my half and full marathons! (Moreso during the half though because I didn’t feel like I was going to die at the end of that one.)

  12. sarahdudek80 says:

    Wow that is a lot of races and you have come so unbelievably far! It is weird to think of non-running days isn’t it? My first race was when I was 10 and ran a 5K memorial race for the neighbor boy who passed away from Leukemia. I have the cutest picture of me holding my medal next to his dad. They were both runners. Like Suz my first half nearly scared me half to death, but once I got going all I can remember was how fun it was. I would take a half over a 5K any day.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Awwww that’s sounds like such a sweet photo! It is really hard to imagine what it was like before I ran now even though it wasn’t THAT long ago. I must have had a lot of extra free time!

  13. themilereport says:

    So fun to think back to the first race and think about everything that seemed like SUCH a big deal. What if I have to pee? What if I come in last place? What if I get lost and I’m the only one? What if I fall and break my leg? Do I crawl to the finish line?
    My first race was a Thanksgiving 5k in high school that I didn’t plan on running–I was out of town and had to borrow a sports bra and clothes from my cousin. I finished in 28 minutes and wanted to throw up at the finish line.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Damn that’s such a fast first 5K! I remember those “what if I’m last” feelings. And then I realized that even if I was last it wouldn’t matter because I was still out there doing it and people would still cheer me on regardless.

  14. courtruns4cupcakes says:

    You did awesome at your first race!! I ran a 5k and a 5-miler before I ran my first half but I count the half as my first real race. I didn’t train or really care about the first two. My first half was the Disney Princess Half Marathon and it was amazing!! I just followed you on insta I’m _courtmoore 🙂

  15. Piper's Run says:

    My first real race was back in 2004! It was a 10k and it was around 1:07 – guess I’ve knocked off 10 minutes in 10 years…ha ha ha! It was super windy and raining and I remember running around a corner of a building and being hit with the wind that we stopped in our tracks! I gotcha back on Instagram already 😉

  16. MaybeMarathoner says:

    You are such a talented runner to have come so far so soon…I hope you know that! I ran for years before thinking I was far enough along to run a race…Kansas City’s Hospital Hill half marathon in 2007. I will always remember those first race memories and the HORRIFIC runner’s trots cramping that I experienced throughout the race. I lost 8 minutes or more waiting in line at Johnnys on the Spots! Oh, and I am MaybeMarathoner on Instagram!

  17. Sweaty Mess says:

    You’ve come so far! Can’t wait to look back and be able to see where I’ve been. My first “real” race was the Frederick 5k in May. It was hot and in the evening. I had been running in the cooler mornings so I was a little scared. But I did okay. I’m going back next year to show it who’s boss.

  18. strivetostride says:

    Woohoo! You’ve accomplished so much and have much more to strive towards I’m sure. My first organized race was a 3km part of a series and I thought I was going to die! Running seemed so difficult at first and now I can’t imagine not being able to walk out the door and hit the pavement comfortably. It’s amazing to look back on where you first started and the journey to where you are today! Completing something you’ve dreamt about for so long is pretty amazing.

    • runsaltrun says:

      So true! I never thought I’d be where I am today with all this and I wouldn’t change it for the world! (Well except for maybe the injuries, but I’ve learned a little something from them too.)

  19. Hanna says:

    OH man. My first real race (i.e. not a Color Run) was a 5K last October. I had just started running a couple months prior. I remember being completely shocked and proud when I came in at under 30 minutes. I think it was like 29:31 or something like that, and boy did that seem FAST to me! That was when I started to realize, hey, I might actually be capable of being GOOD at this whole running thing. I started really wanting to get better, faster, stronger. It’s amazing how far I’ve come not even a year later, although sometimes I miss those days when a sub-10:00 mile or pushing myself for a long run of 4 miles could make me feel on top of the world – when you’re first starting out, the world is your oyster and everything is so exciting!

  20. Elizabeth says:

    A similar thing happened to me in my first race! I was running a 5k. I had trained and trained and was super excited, and was even more excited when my time was a bit faster than I was used to and then I found out a week later that they had messed up the course and it was a little shorter than it should have been. I can’t remember by how much now, but I know I was disappointed it wasn’t a TRUE 5k.

    I also decided on the morning of what would have been my second 5k that sleeping was better than running. I wouldn’t make that decision again haha!

  21. Lauren @ ihadabiglunch says:

    I love the memory of my first race. When I went off to college I had no idea how I would stay in shape after years and years of relying on basketball to do that for me. The first semester I lived on the elliptical but I got SO BORED so fast. I remember that February I started running in some old Nikes I had (which, ironically, are the only shoes I never got injured in…haha). I signed up for a half marathon in June all by myself and trained 3-4 times a week for it, slowly, for four months. That day I ran the whole half marathon without stopping and felt like a million bucks. I’ve never had as good of half marathon luck as I did with that one, probably because I didn’t put any pressure on myself to run fast or anything (I think I ended that one in 2:10 or 2:12 so it was a slow/steady race). But since then I’ve identified as a runner 🙂

  22. afastpacedlife says:

    My first race I did waaaayyy back when I was in grad school. My best friend in grad school was an avid runner. She convinced me to do Bay to Breakers, which is a beloved San Franciscan tradition. It’s less a race, and more a roving 12K party. It’s much tamer now, but back in its hey day, there were more people in costumes than without, alcohol flowed freely, spectators would line the streets barbequeing and offering food to the runners, and it was C-R-A-Z-Y. Pity that for public safety, much of the craziness and character got toned down, but it was an amazing first race experience.

  23. chasingchels says:

    My first race was a 10k, too 🙂 Pittsburgh’s Great Race which is held on my bday weekend every year, so I have to sign up for that and sentimental reasons. It was the first time I ever realized how much I love to fly and be around other runners…the joy and adrenaline that brings. And it was the first time I realized I could be speedy. I had never run as fast as I did that day before, but I wanted to do it again quick. I’ll never forget hearing my mum call my name as I crossed the finish line. Best, most on top of the world feeling ever 🙂

  24. Rebecca Jo says:

    My first race was a half marathon… &I had never ran before & my training, I only got up to 4 miles. Needless to say, I almost died. Seriously. DEAD serious. It was awful, but crossing the finish line, I knew I wanted to do it right. The next year, my time was like 45 MINUTES sooner – haha
    @RebeccaJoKnits on IG 🙂
    I do wedding photography & man, its hard for the couples to have unique # for their wedding photos 🙂

  25. Hailey says:

    My first race was the two mile in high school… that one I talked about on Jenna’s blog where I quit a couple laps into it and never wanted to run another step in my life. Now, I pay to do over six times that distance…haha my how things change. 🙂 I’m so glad you started running!

  26. txa1265 says:

    I always love looking back – thanks for sharing!

    We are already Insta-buddies 🙂 @txa1265 for anyone else who cares. 😉

    As for my first race, 5k at age 46 after 23 years of running – weighing the 2nd most of my life. 32:23 – total badass 🙂

  27. Kathryn @ Dancing to Running says:

    You’ve come so far since that first 10k! I too love looking back through old photos, and it always amazes me to look at them and realize just how much has changed since those photos were taken, even if they were recent.

    Other than a couple of 5ks, my first “real” race was the Biggest Loser 10k. There were so many problems with the race (on Biggest Loser’s end) that it wasn’t a very great experience. I got to run it with my husband though, and that is a great memory itself.

    And we already follow each other, but for others who are interested I’m at @dancingtorunning.

  28. FLRunnerBoy says:

    Ohhhhhh that first race was supposed to be my only race … I guess that didn’t happen hahaha 🙂 I ran a 5K just to say I did it. The first mile was literally up and over a steep bridge taking you to the beach. I ran something like 26:& some change but I remember finishing knowing I still had energy left in the tank so two months later I ran another race so I could feel completely spent

  29. caffeinatedginger says:

    My first race was a 5K in Dec. 2012. I wasn’t even supposed to run it–I was just going to walk it with several of my coworkers. However, my competitive side got the best of me and I ran it. 😉 However, I had old, crappy running shoes on and also wasn’t used to running on hard pavement, so that is when plantar fasciitis reared it’s ugly head. Ugh. Fast forward to last Saturday–my 2nd race of my lifetime–ran a 4-mile race and received a medal for being third in my age group. Go me! (Small race, so don’t get too excited.) My hubs, 17yo son, and I will all be running a 5K at the end of this month. My goal is to run it under 30 minutes…we shall see…. My IG name is martigayle. 🙂

  30. runawaybridalplanner says:

    Looking back is always so fun! My first race ever was when I was 8 or 9, and it was a 1/2 mile kids fun run and I was so bummed I got 2nd because they only hat trophy’s for first place, and I was mad that my friend had beaten me by a just a little bit. Funny thing, I actually kept the shirt they gave us for that race, and the slogan “run for the gold” always stuck with me:)

  31. Brianna @ I run He tris says:

    I honestly can’t remember my first organized race. I remember my first triathlon, my first half marathon, my first 10k, but I know my first race was a 5k and I can’t remember it! I’ll have to look through old t-shirts to see if I can remember. I love your idea of unique hashtags. I used one for my son but other people have used it too so it’s not just his pictures anymore. 😦 My instagram is brianna_irunhetris !! Completely unrelated to this post but do you know why I can’t comment sometimes? Whenever I read/comment at work I get an error message when trying to comment. 😦

  32. Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine says:

    You have come so far in such a short time! My first race was the Baltimore half in 2007! I didn’t race much the first few years but since 2011 I have been racing more regularly. I’ve completed 30 total in 7 years. So 22 in just over a year is AMAZING!

  33. Jennifer says:

    Love hashtags!! I also do major hashtag stalking of races haha – check out whats going all everywhere! My first race was a Thanksgiving 10K – my first and only black toe!

  34. ambertherunner says:

    Oh my gosh what a neat post. It’s amazing to look back and see how far you’ve come, it’s so motivating 🙂 I totally get sucked into looking at old blog posts and insta pics.
    My first race was freshman year of xc. It was mid-way through the season once I’d recovered from tendonitis. I was slow, and it was hard. I don’t think I even pushed myself to my limit because I didn’t know how. But it was FUN. I felt like rockstar afterwards 🙂

  35. Sasha says:

    My first was a small 5K but it was all it took for me to become hooked. 🙂 Way to go though coming so far from your first race!!

  36. Natasha says:

    22 races…that is awesome! My first race was 5 miles and I was ill prepared, but proud to finish! It was at a brewery and there was free beer after which helped. 😉

  37. Sun says:

    It’s so much fun thinking back to the first race! The first one I trained for was a marathon relay race on an indoor track. There were four of us on the team and none of us were runners. It was such a struggle to get through the miles and I was so sore the next day. But it was also a lot of fun and from there, I couldn’t wait to train harder and do another race 🙂

    I’m storke103 on Instagram – looking you up to follow!

  38. piratebobcat says:

    Great post L! You’re such a great runner and improving so fast! Of course I have an IG @piratebobcat But you knew that. First race? Can’t remember, been running since middle school…but my first marathon really stands out. It was brutal, but I finished!

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