Short People and 5Ks
Posted by wendiwendy
I mentioned a while back that Dave and I signed up to walk our first 5K. It was this past Saturday, and I’m happy to report that we finished (and far from last place).
As I do with every first-time experience, I researched as much as I could ahead of time. Every time I mentioned what I thought I’d wear or eat that day, Dave would chuckle and say, “It’s just a 5K! It’s not that big a deal, relax.” He used to run 10Ks, even a half marathon, back in the day and had actually never done a shorter race like a 5K. Finally I had to explain to him that even though it doesn’t seem like much, 3.1 miles is a big deal to a non-athlete like me.
I worried quite a bit about the weather. I didn’t really care if it was going to be hot that day because we’d be walking at 8:30 am, but I really didn’t want to deal with rain. My cochlear implant processors can resist a light drizzle, but serious rain would not be cool. I probably would have taken a pass on doing the 5K if it was a downpour, because I’m not into trudging 3.1 miles totally deaf in wet clothes and wet shoes.
We went the afternoon before and picked up our race packet. I was expecting something like a big envelope with lots of documentation – I’m a weirdo that reads through ALL the printed material I receive, especially for something I’m clueless about. Instead, we checked a board (outside the hospice facility that was holding the race) for our race numbers, walked inside and gave our numbers to a lady who presented us with the … thing that has our race number on it, whatever it’s called (the thing you pin to your shirt). We grabbed some pins, moved further along and were handed our race shirts (really cute, blue tie-dye) and a little backpack thing. Then we headed back out to our car (after I asked someone where we should park the next morning).
I assumed the backpack had all the paperwork inside. We were about halfway home when I opened it up and found only a magnet for a local business, and a water bottle. I flipped the number thing over and saw a strip attached to it, so I assumed that was the timing chip. After I freaked out a little bit (poor Dave, dealing with my Virgo personality), I went back to the website when we got home and re-read all the information a bit obsessively until I was satisfied.
The next morning I had an English muffin with some apple butter (which turned out to be just the right amount of food) and we headed out at about 7 am. We got there about 40 minutes before the race started, so we walked around (there were LOTS of people milling around the parking lot), I used the porta-potty, we took pictures … and then it started raining so we went under the awning and prayed for the rain to stop.
It did, in plenty of time, and the walk itself was completely dry (if a bit humid and muggy). We walked into the street to line up at about 8:20. There were guys holding signs that said ‘Runners – 5 min mile’ (plus 8 min and 10 min, possibly other times too). We got pretty far back from the 10 minute mile sign, and eventually I looked around and saw a guy holding a sign that said ‘Walkers’ so we moved over behind him. (I just realized the Walking Dead reference there … hah.)
It was packed and a lot of the time I had to keep pace with the people in front of me. We walked for quite a while on uneven cobblestone streets, so I was spending a lot of time watching the ground in front of me to make sure I didn’t trip. Eventually I hopped up on the sidewalk and was able to go faster that way. But really, being short when you’re doing a race like this (running or walking) just sucks. (I’m barely 5’1”.) I had to take a good four steps for every one being taken by anybody 5’4” or taller. I was working my ASS off, walking so fast I couldn’t really hold a conversation, and up ahead of me would be taller people just casually strolling along, chatting with their companion like it was no big deal … and I couldn’t catch up to them. It was really maddening!
I did end up jogging in a couple places – once when we were going down a hill, and a couple times to get around people who were walking slower than I wanted to. Dave let me set the pace, and he said afterward that I surprised him with how fast I was walking. I felt kind of bad, like I was holding him back – I knew he’d never walked a race, only jogged, and I told him he could jog if he wanted to. He admitted that he would never jog a race again – he prefers to walk now. That made me feel a little better. 😉
For a while it felt like the race would never end; I was getting sweaty and tired and I kept up that fast, fast pace (for me, anyway) the whole time. Just when I was starting to despair, I saw the finish line come into view. We walked faster, then I looked back at Dave, nodded and started to jog. We jogged over the finish line and somehow he passed me, so he finished at 48:47 and I finished at 48:48, with an average pace of 15:43 per mile. Not bad for two old fogies! 🙂
I did notice that lots of people were mixing jogging and running; I have no idea how many were joggers that switched to walking, or walkers who threw in a jog here and there (like us). That was also something I agonized over – is it okay to jog a bit if you sign up to walk? Apparently it is.
We were tired but we felt great when we finished. They had all kinds of stuff set out to eat – donuts, bagels, pastries, bananas and orange quarters, plus bottled water. I grabbed a water, looked at the donuts and felt completely grossed out, and grabbed an orange quarter. It was like nectar, seriously. I told Dave, “If you’d told me beforehand that I would choose an orange quarter over a donut, I’d have said you were nuts.” I just couldn’t fathom really eating after all that exercise though.
We will definitely do more 5K races in the future, but Dave wants to wait until his Hep C treatment is complete (and I don’t blame him). I also really don’t want to do a race when it’s hot, so that’s even more reason to wait until Sept. to look for more races to enter.
Hopefully by then we’ll have a chance to get more walks in through the summer and the next one will be a little easier. It would help if I could grow five inches by then, but something tells me that’s not gonna happen.