Friday Five: Favorite Race Memories

What a whirlwind week – the NYC Triathlon, a busy work week, my birthday, wrapping up the Race to the Finish Line Raffle – it’s been super crazy and I can’t believe it’s already time for the Friday Five linkup with Eat Pray Run, DC and Mar on the Run! Today’s theme is Favorite Race Memories.

5 Favorite Race Memories

Speaking of the Raffle, I’ve been doing a lot of late nights wrapping up raffle business and will be contacting all the winners today. Thanks for your patience – falling asleep by accident the other night thwarted my plans to finish up the project!

So today’s theme – Favorite Race Memories. I have a lot of great race memories from this year alone, because I’ve been doing a lot of races. So I’ll try to pick five meaningful ones from throughout the years. Unfortunately I’m totally swamped this week and can’t find photos for everything on old computers. But if you know my story, you’ll know that I started running before having kids and it’s been a journey ever since. So here are some favorite moments:

MEMORY #1: Finishing my first 5K (my first running race!) – the Turkey Trot in Clearwater, Florida – Thanksgiving Day, 2003.

What a thrill! I’ll never forget this race with my friend Sarah – she asked if I wanted to train for a 5K with her and I had no idea that it would change the course of my future. My dad was visiting us in Florida for Thanksgiving, and he ran it too – the start of more races with my dad! It definitely gave me the running-racing bug. I had no idea what a “good” time was for a 5K but was happy that I did it and loved every minute of it! Sarah and I trained together for a 15K after that, but this 5K finish was amazing, the whole race experience was new to me – what a fun time!

MEMORY #2: My first marathon – the Bank of American Marathon in Tampa, part of Gasparilla Distance Classic – 2005.

I loved everything about this race and had a fabulous first marathon. I finished and said “I can’t wait to do that again!” Everything went according to plan and I loved running in Tampa, where I had been living and training for the race.

Don’t laugh at this ancient picture – it was 2007 and I wasn’t a stylish runner girl. I’m just shocked I found a photo at all!

Cynthia first marathon

MEMORY #3: The start of the MS 150 from Pittsburgh to Lake Erie – 2001 or 2002.

I wasn’t in good shape and hadn’t trained properly, but there I was lined up at the start of the 2-day bike ride on my dad’s spare hybrid bike. The sight of all the bike helmets glistening in the sun gave me the chills. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

We won’t talk about the rest of the race…

Well, okay, here’s a short synopsis: it was 70 miles the first day and I was struggling up the hills! Then at the hotel that night my legs were cramping up so badly I couldn’t get myself up out of the bathtub and thought I’d have to ask my dad to help me out! I managed to crawl out of the tub and into bed but feared the second day.

The second day was 80 miles and I did okay – slow but steady! I didn’t walk the bike at all up hills that day, and although I wasn’t the very last person, I was close (like 2 seconds before them). But I finished.

I got carpal tunnel and a hyperextended knee from riding a bike too big for me, and learned a valuable lesson about training properly for endurance events! But that starting line was memorable!

MEMORY #4: The Princess Half Marathon – running through Cinderella’s Castle – 2014.

Wow – this race (and the whole Glass Slipper Challenge) was such a highlight for me since it was less than 12 weeks since my hysterectomy (and other pelvic surgeries) this past December. I had struggled with the decision of whether to defer to 2015 because of my recovery, but when I started to heal from the surgery I felt better than ever. And I didn’t want to put off the special trip with my daughter, and meeting friends at the race. I decided to go for it and just do the best I could. Doing the 19.3 miles over 2 days gave me the confidence to really go for it during 2014. And running through Cinderella’s castle just felt right.

Rapunzel on main street castle

MEMORY #5: The swim start of the Iron Girl Rocky Gap – 2013.

I got totally emotional at the start of the swim at my first triathlon. A long-time goal to do this by the time I turned 40, set the day before I found out I was pregnant with my first baby. I won’t try to re-state it here, I said it in the recap so I’ll just quote myself:

So, walking down the beach towards the lake, pulling my goggles over my swim cap, I had a moment. Do you ever have those moments? You know, the ones where you just feel something big change and you take a moment to look around? I looked around that beach and thought – I’m finally doing this thing that I said I would do, so many years ago. And then I walked into the water and thought:

The next chapter is beginning.

Iron Girl swim start

Do you have a favorite race memory?

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Cynthia @ You Signed Up For What?!
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Cynthia @ You Signed Up For What?!

Cynthia Steele is a runner, triathlete, & working mom of 3 little kids. She has lost 50 pounds through fitness and healthy eating and writes about fitting in all this crazy stuff while juggling work and kids.
Cynthia @ You Signed Up For What?!
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  1. says

    I only have ever done one REAL race, that wasn’t a charity run of some kind… it was my only half marathon and although I enjoyed it, I suffered severe salt depletion and was in agony with cramping for sever HOURS afterward. I am glad you have so many!

  2. says

    I can’t say that any one race was my fave but if pressed, right now I’m still basking in all the love from the past weekend’s Zooma half. My slowest, toughest half but oh! the good memories and friendship from this one. Sometimes it isn’t about the finish times…
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Mom versus the MarathonMy Profile

  3. says

    Loved reading all these but wow–the last one, your first triathlon, gave me chills reading it! Same with the sea of bike helmets. Those moments where you stop and think, “This is it” and reflect on everything you did to get to that point are so special.
    Jenn @ Running on Lentils recently posted…Five Race MemoriesMy Profile

  4. says

    Cynthia, I love the fact that your very first race was a Turkey Trot – that’s great! Also, your brief statement from your recap of the Iron Girl Rocky Cap in 2013 was awesome…brought tears to my eyes; I felt like I was there with you. :) What an incredible journey…you ROCK!! Great list!
    Tara @ Running ‘N’ Reading recently posted…Friday Five – Race Memories!My Profile

  5. says

    I’m planning to do the Disney Marathon in 2016. I can’t wait to run through Cinderella’s castle. I have done a few RunDisney races, but haven’t done any that coursed us through the castle yet. This is one of my bucket races.
    I also love that you ran the Gasparilla Marathon. They don’t do the full marathons anymore. I wonder why.
    Haley @ Running with Diapers recently posted…Five Favorite Race MemoriesMy Profile

  6. says

    This is a great list and great memories!

    The top of my race memories has got to be my first race/first half marathon – it was not long after I’d started running and it was a pretty tough goal for me to do – I was SO proud of myself!

    I think first races and long distance races always have quite a deep meaning to everyone!
    Laura recently posted…Friday Five // Favourite Race MemoriesMy Profile

  7. says

    Wow, you’ve done some amazing races! Congrats! :)

    My most memorable race is the 2014 26.2 with Donna. It was my first marathon and the experience was like nothing I had before at a race. Every thought and emotion went through me and best of all, I became a marathoner. So awesome.
    Shannon @GirlsGotSole recently posted…Five Things Friday #14My Profile