It was time. The moment we had all been waiting for was finally upon us: the Pumpkin Festival 5K. For months, my mom had been raving about the awards at this particular race: the infamous pumpkin trophy. At first, I had just smiled, secretly rolling my eyes at her obsession with trophies and pure disregard for medals. While I was curious about how a trophy would house a pumpkin, I didn’t care one way or another whether I would take one home. Until The Race That Changed Me, that is.
Now, after having had my first “love to run” experience, and after listening to the race director remind everyone of the following weekend race, my interest was piqued and a new obsession was born. I awoke with pure excitement that race morning, which turned to anxiety during the hour and half drive to the race location.
When I arrived and saw the pumpkin trophies on display, I was completely and utterly mesmerized by what I saw.
They were beautiful! Pure quality, ceramic fired pumpkin trophies for the overall and age group winners. I was now even more determined to take one home.
Despite all I had learned about prematurely determining a race’s outcome, I found myself starting to feel slightly disheartened as I saw about 200 people standing at the starting line. How was I going to manage securing a pumpkin with all of this competition?
I pushed those self-defeating thoughts away and lined up near the front. When the race director called out “You should only be in the front if you’re breaking 20 minutes,” I was somewhat concerned, but stayed where I was. Off went the gun, and I flew down the hill at full speed.
All I could think for the first mile was “I want a pumpkin. I NEED a pumpkin. Please please please let me get a pumpkin.” I don’t remember much else, and before I knew it, I was at the two-mile marker and not far behind my mom. This meant one thing…I was getting faster. This realization made me even more excited than the pumpkin did, and I instantly started calculating in my head what my time would be. Whoah…under 26 minutes? I reached for every motivational thought I could find, repeating my positive mantras out loud. I thought about my lost loved ones who couldn’t run, and that gave me an extra push to run even harder for them. One by one, my legs carried me past runner after runner. Then…there it was. The clock was up ahead by 200 meters, and I could just make out the 24-minute marker. I pushed into full sprint mode, grinning like a fool, and finished with a best time of 25:09, just 35 seconds behind my mom.
I had knocked over a minute and a half off my time from only a week before! I was so excited that I no longer cared about the trophies (of course I was still hoping I had slid into the top of my age group). Words do no justice to the excitement I felt when my time was announced as the third place winner.
My mom took first place in her age group, and made sure to point out that her pumpkin was bigger than mine.
I didn’t care one bit. I had MY pumpkin. I was never more excited to get a trophy, and to this day, it’s my favorite. It never fails to put a smile on my face each time I look at it, and just holding it has me giggling like a child with pride. Now I need to go back and add to that pumpkin patch.