Sunday, September 30, 2012

What a Day!

I seriously don't even know where or how to start to explain the experience of my first 5K. So let me just rattle off random thoughts as they come to me:

* First of all, my Sandi was at the hospital rather than at the event. She had chemo this past Wednesday, and a reaction to that coupled with the flu sent her in to spend the morning being pumped full of anti-nausea meds, two rounds of morphine, and saline to counteract the dehydration. And girl, it just didn't feel right to be there without you. But you were obviously very much in my thoughts all morning.

#1 on my Celebration List
* I loved having Jim with me. I normally talk more about Sandi and Matt than I do about Jim, but there's no way I could be doing this fitness thing without his support. And this morning that was even more true. Besides, he has this thing he does... he has such a long stride, he has trouble staying slow enough to match my pace, so when we walk, he'll sprint forward occasionally for a short distance, then double back to wherever I am. But what really happens is that, as he's running ahead, I kick into race-walk speed so I'm closer than he expects by the time he turns around. The net effect is that my overall time is faster - even if he does look like a Border Collie trying to keep me herded.

The quiet, unassuming one

* The weather was overcast and in the mid-50s. This is perfect if you're going out to the trail and getting busy walking right away. But if you're going to be standing around for two hours beforehand, it qualifies as cold and damp. And not much fun.

* There was a certain thrill to seeing our names on the list. One sign posted along the route said, "The only difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry form." Okay, I'm still not a runner, but I AM official now.

Right there at the top
* The route was basically a big rectangle, with the race starting at one corner. It was AWESOME having the cheerleaders from our town's three middle schools standing at the other three corners to cheer us on!

Lining up to start the competitive race
* By the way, there were over 5000 people registered for today's event. 775 were just from the town's two high schools. It was, literally, a mass of humanity.

* The red shirts were very special. Those were worn by the cancer survivors. It was inspiring to see so many of them together.

These are not your regular Star Trek red-shirts

* I'm going to guess that the course was 3/4 gradual incline and 1/4 steep decline. I never knew there could be so much uphill without going down again - you sure don't notice it when you're driving around campus! In spite of that, I was able to keep a respectable pace...even if my glutes are going to feel it tomorrow.

* People holding out cups of water are angels. 'Nuff said.

* Knowing that the course wouldn't be the flat trail I normally walk, I allowed some extra time when setting my goal for today. I had hoped to finish in 50 minutes, and would have been content with 55. So when I finished in 45:37, I was thrilled!

* I was also pleasantly surprised to see how I compared with other walkers. Jim & I started in the middle of the pack (they wanted the fast walkers in front, medium in the middle and slow at the back when we started). I was passed by a handful, we passed several, and Jim estimated that we finished in the top 1/4 to 1/3 of all the walkers. Next time I'll make sure we're more toward the front of the pack - as far as walkers go, we're definitely among the fast ones.

* It feels very good to pass the young'uns - especially high school and college-age kids who are young and look like they're in great shape.

* It bugs me ever-so-slightly that all the awards to go the runners. (Or at least that was the case today.) But then after being out on the course, I realized that you really almost can't have awards for walkers, because too many people don't walk the entire course. They'll walk most of the time, but jog or run ahead at some points. I saw so many people jogging a bit here and there, and I thought, "Gee, maybe they should have a category for the folks who are half-and-half." :)

* The best word in the English language is "love." The second best word is "Finish." I didn't set any records today, but I did finish. And four months ago, you would've never convinced me that I would do something like this, much less finish it...much LESS do it in a respectable amount of time.

This is what "after" looks like - and Jim looks like he hasn't done anything yet