Running the Jaguar 5K: the Longest 18 Minutes Ever


(Photo courtesy of Erin Poplin)

Danny May, Staff Writer

It’s early on a Saturday morning, hundreds of people are lined up behind you, and next to you at the starting line to race in the 11th annual Jaguar 5K. You can feel the chill of the cool morning air come across you as you get in your last few warm up routines. You start to get exponentially more nervous as the crowd gets quieter and the start approaches. A sudden total silence enters your mind as you hear the piercing sound of the starting pistol go off. The pop of the gun relieves some of your tension, but you know it’s going to be a fight until your last stride. Before you know it, your legs take off the instant you hear that sound; you don’t even think, you just do. You get out fast in the beginning to secure your place at the top. With how fast you’re going at this point, the only thing you think of is how you’re going to maintain a comfortable speed for the next three miles left in the race.

The first mile flies by and you hear someone call out your first split as you cross the one mile marker. Suddenly, the fatigue starts to hit you and the doubt starts to set in. At this point in the race, your biggest enemy, yet your best friend, is your own mind. Either you can use it to motivate yourself, or your negativity can take over and you’re finished. You have to make yourself stay positive and think nothing of the pain, and only of your goal if you plan to reach it.

Soon after you pass the mile marker, another obstacle lies ahead—the hill. Every stride you take starts to feel like a thousand, and it seems like you’re running up a wall that never ends. But you push through it. Most importantly, you make yourself continue the pace and not relax after you make it to the top. You have to run through the hill not just over it.

By now, you have gotten past the hardest part of the race and are starting the last half mile. You begin to realize that this is the time to pick up the pace to reach your goal, if you choose to wait until the last three hundred meters on the track, you will have waited too long to kick. So you pick it up and continue to work your way back to the school through the winding, blocked off, and unusually quiet streets. The scenery continues to look more familiar as you approach the school once again. Finally, you run around the track to complete the course and as you near the finish line, the pain disappears and the longest 10 seconds of your life set in as you approach the line. Nothing is separating you from the end at this point. The announcer calls your name as you make your way down, and you cross the line. The pain is gone and you catch your breath as you realize that all your hard work had paid off.