(Contributed by Danielle Hashem, Pamakid member since February 27, 2013)
The lone runner is how I would describe myself up until a few weeks ago. I started running six years ago in an effort to lose some weight and become more physically fit. Running was something I had to grow to love, and that meant I had to take my training slow. So, over the past several years it has been about increasing my base distances, but doing so at an easy pace. I never followed any training program, never ran track, nor did I run with other people — I just ran alone. I had set a few small racing goals to keep me motivated, and that was it. Soon enough, I started to wonder what I was capable of achieving if I did intensify my training, if I incorporated speed workouts into my running regimen. I suppose, sooner or later (or is it soonar or later?), most runners think about what it is they are capable of, and I was now reaching that point.
After finishing the Kaiser Half Marathon this past February, I finally decided it was time to move out of my comfort zone and join a running club, but which one? I had asked a running friend for a recommendation on a running club that might work best for me. She suggested the Pamakids. On February 12, I decided to test the waters, and I went to my first ever track workout with the Pamakids. Walking up to meet everyone was a bit awkward; I had that feeling of being the new kid at school that no one knows; I was an outsider looking in. After the tough track workout, there were lots of high fives exchanged along with words of support and encouragement. As each week passes, the track workouts stay tough, while the social exchanges with the other Pamakids have become much easier.
On February 27, I took the plunge and officially joined the Pamakids and in doing so, I have signed up to participate in several races. One of the races was the SACTOWN 10 mile race. I figured this race would be a good starting point for me, a clean slate. I’ve never run a 10 mile race before, so regardless of my time I would set a PR. No problem. But with life, things are never easy. During the week of the race I relapsed into a dry cough that has been plaguing me for a few weeks. I had a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia or anything serious. All I could do at this point was rest and hope for the best. I rested for 3 days, and headed up to Sacramento Saturday evening. Regardless of my bronchial problem, I was committed to run this race.
Sunday morning I made my way over to the race bib pick up area and immediately saw several Pamakids gathering near the front of the Capital Building. It was nice to see both new and familiar faces, all of whom were welcoming and sociable. Up to this point, my experience with races went like this: I show up to the race by myself, run the race, collect my finisher swag, and leave. There was no interaction with other runners, no encouragement, and no support; it was just an isolated event for me. As one of the newest members of the Pamakids I will admit, it is undeniably better to have a group of people to talk with before and after the race. As several more Pamakids gathered, we took a group picture in front of the Capital Building. After the photo, we warmed up and headed over to the west side of the Capitol Building to the start area. I lined up with several Pamakids near the front and the only thing I remember after that is the sound of the start gun. It was official; I was off and running my first race with the Pamakids.
I haven’t spent much time in Sacramento, but the best way to see an unfamiliar city is to run it. The SACTOWN 10 mile race takes you on a scenic tour through downtown Sacramento and its surrounding neighborhoods. The course travels along tree lined streets with plenty of small cafes, shops, parks, schools and houses to see along the way. And no matter where you were on course, there were friendly people offering their cheers and support. The course was flat, with one small uphill around mile 4. There were aid stations every 2 miles, which was plenty. I enjoyed the scenery and just let my mind wander while trying to keep up a good pace. With 2 miles left, I started to breathe heavy, but at that point I was committed to keep going with the same pace and finish. The last mile was tough, just as the last mile in all races tend to be, and I was tired and ready to get to the finish. As I turned the final corner I saw the Capital Building to my right, and felt a sense of accomplishment. Crossing the finish line never felt so good. I let my body recover for a moment and then looked down at my Garmin to see that I finished in 1:19:55 (chip time), a very close sub-8:00 finish for my first 10 mile race.
As people finished, we gathered again to stretch and discuss the race, and more importantly, to discuss brunch. The entire group was extremely supportive and friendly which is… what a team is about. It was at that moment I felt really proud, not because I finished the race, not because of my race time, but because I am no longer a lone runner, I’m a Pamakid.