My First Race

6km race route
6km race route

I entered my first road race, a 6km, on my European vacation…by accident. I am not a runner, but I do live in a household of runners. Does that count?

I took up jogging in early Spring 2012 for a variety of reasons. The more serious of those reasons was that I knew two women that both had been diagnosed with cancer. They both had young children that needed them. I could not comprehend it. So I took up a slow jog, beginning a few times a week, telling myself I would run “for them” while they could not.  This training evolved into the “Couch to 5K” App, but ultimately my running became quite irregular. Weeks and then months passed by and I did not move past a quick walk.

Then, this past May, my family and I were on vacation in Riga, Latvia, birthplace of my parents. The Lattelcom Riga Marathon was taking place on Sunday, May 15. Along with the marathon they offered a family run, 6km, 10km & 21km. My husband and our two sons were all excited to register for the 6km. Well, the day before the race Erik and I went sightseeing in one direction and Bill and Alek stayed at the apartment. During lunch I signed Erik up online for the race. Meanwhile, Bill was signing up himself and both boys. This came to light at packet pick-up at the Elektrun Olimpiskais Centrs. Since there were two race numbers registered for Erik and no refund it was unanimous!  I would run, in the 19-24 male age group! After getting our race packets and shirts (and buying a new pair of Adidas running shoes since I did not pack a pair) we had dinner at Valmiermuiza Alus restaurant and I immediately ordered a beer. What was I thinking? Running in a race? In Europe? It turned out to be an emotionally charged highlight of my trip. The incredible energy at the start, along the Daugava river, was astounding even through the rain.  Prince’s Purple Rain rang out over the loudspeakers and next the Rocky theme song, Eye of the Tiger. Then, all 10,000 of us were off and running!  Have you ever tried running with 10,000 people? The pace was actually just right for this non-runner! There were so many people, which included walkers and parents with strollers, that it was difficult to find a clear path to keep a race pace. Nonetheless, I enjoyed everything about the experience: the cobbled streets, Art Nouveau buildings, running down Brivibas iela(Freedom street), passing the Freedom Monument and high-fiving the Latvian folk dancers undercover in clear plastic rain slickers – all of it was a thrill – even in the rain! The emotional part was knowing that my parents and grandparents walked these same streets which made it so much more special.  I am not counting out another race, but it will have to be very special!  What’s your runner story? Any “sorta” runners out there like me?

Finisher medal
I medaled, but so did everyone!

Author: Astrida

Hello! I am a daughter, sister, wife and mom. My proud accomplishments include being married to a wonderful man and we have raised two kind boys. I have two older sisters and we are first generation born Americans since our parents immigrated to the U.S. from Latvia in the 1940's. I rely on my faith in the Lord to help me keep putting one foot in front of the other.

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