RUN THE RAPIDS--5k walk report, October 14, 2006.
Saturday I participated in another walk that should have been a run race. This time I entered the timed event, as there was no other choice. But I was ready to see how much of an improvement there would be from three weeks before. During the past week, my toe had been feeling much better--to walk on but not to the touch--so I know my regular walks were getting a little speedier. I'm doing this for exercise, not speed anyway, as a way to measure my progress. Some days I don't particularly feel like walking once I get out of work, but I figure 30 minutes is better than nothing.
In the days before the race, our weather was some of the worst in a long time for this time of year, without any snow accumulations but cold, windy, and icy nevertheless. Friday was so bad I had decided if I got up on Saturday and it was that bad, I would not go to the race. At this stage in my recovery, I do not need to put myself into gale force winds, sleet, sideways rain, and bitter cold to risk getting sick. Everyone at work has this nasty bug and I'm trying to avoid it at all costs. No way do I want to have a hacking cough right now!
I also had been very tired this week, not sleeping that well, because my shoulder was aching all week to the point where no meds or ice or heat or anything cut through the pain. And after working like that all week, my back between the shoulder blades where the other fractures are was tight and aching too. So I did the sensible thing and took a muscle relaxant. That was just what I needed! I was zonked out by 8 pm and slept well all night.
But I was awake at 5:30 am. For a 9 am race. All kinds of time, right? And since I wasn't running, I decided to take a shower, fix my hair, and put on some makeup. Why not?? Might as well look good out there! I wouldn't be getting that sweaty so figured on not showering after anyway.
The weather was perfect for a fall race day, nearly clear skies, crisp air, and very little wind, but it was very cold, only in the low 40s, a day for tights and jackets for most. I arrived late--go figure, I wake up at 5:30 am and can't get to a 9 am race on time! By late, I only mean that packet pickup was supposed to be closed at 8:30--something I didn't realize--but they were still there handing out packets when I got there at 8:45 so I had no trouble getting mine. I noticed while waiting for my number that all the walkers had 900 numbers, so I figured they would be easy to spot.
I saw my friend Jan from work and wished her well. She was ready to run. She's ready for Chicago. This is just a waiting game for her. Her running has taken off this year, even after her mishap on the bike and having a broken arm. We both say it over and over--Chi Running. There is no doubt in either of our minds that this has given her the boost she has been needing for so long. (Now I can't wait to get back at it and prove the same thing for myself!) On Friday we figured what pace she needed to run a 4:05 or better at Chicago and with the formulas they give you, she realized she needed a 52:49 for the 10k. To the people I first started running with years ago, a 52 min. 10k was slow, but I know better from experience with "real" athletes that 52:49 is still an 8:40 pace, and that is pretty fast to me.
Just before the race started, I took a look around and sized up all the 900 number people. All different types, some I recognized as crossover runners. I was not criticizing anyone for walking, that's for sure. Who knew what their stories were? I decided to start up on the curb to avoid any initial trampling, even though I was safely in the back. This lasted for about 1 min. because of spectators spilling into the streets and basically blocking any movement. About this same time, I noticed the "walkers" were actually running! Since this was a timed event, I realized what was happening. They obviously figured they would fare better in their age groups walking/running than the would running! Okay, a new trick. But I wasn't able to run at all and wouldn't have anyway so just kept as good of a pace as I could. I would estimate 90% of the "walkers" were jogging easy at the beginning. Cheaters!
But as soon as the first hill was upon us, they all were slowed to a walk. Fakes! I pushed on, alone, until I came to the hill and a couple of women passed me, actually walking quite fast. Then there were a couple of others trying to keep up with them and one I realized had previously worked in my office, so she asked if I was alone and when I said yes invited me to walk with her and her friend. That was nice. Of course her first question was "Why are you walking?" So I explained the accident and we discussed my options for a lawsuit (she is a plaintiff's attorney), even though I already pretty much knew my options.
We then got into a discussion with the other woman about her husband, who had passed away a year ago from cancer and I found out then that the 5k race was a memorial race in his name. That was nice, too.
Because the day was so pleasant--cold but pleasant--and walking with others, this walk seemed much more enjoyable than the last one in the rain. By myself. Three weeks out from the accident. I actually felt like I could have walked faster had they been willing, but the one said she didn't even put a chip on. (Okay, I guess I won't be competing today.)
The course follows the river, crossing bridges, following walking paths along the river, and through the parks along the river. A little confusing for the 10k as it crisscrosses the 5k, but well contained as far as traffic management goes. And it isn't particularly large anymore. This race is now a 10k or 5k, but in years past, the name was Run Through Apple Country, and at that time there was a 20k (my favorite course ever), taking you, where else? Through apple country--out of town and through the orchard country. But with all the expense of traffic management and the selling off of all the orchard land, and the development boom in the area, the race was reduced down to a 10k and 5k, 5k walk, and used to have a kids run. Now, only the 10k and 5k and 5k walk and in a completely different venue. Since the river goes through the town, dividing east from west, it is a focal point for many races and other civic events.
By the time we crossed one of the last bridges of the race, I finally took a look at my watch, since 10k people I knew were now passing--44 min. Well, that's not so bad, I thought. If I could just get these ladies to pick up the pace some, we could be done in 50 min., and that would be a big PR from my last race. That wasn't going to happen, I soon realized. Both were starting to fade and the cold here was getting to them since the wind had picked up and was blowing right off the river. I was dressed in all my running layers and a fleece so I was plenty warm enough. I probably looked as big as Kool-Aid, but I was comfortable! But pick up the pace I did and they kept pretty close to me.
One more bridge to cross and another 3 blocks after that and we were done. It had gone quickly in my mind and I felt good--nothing hurt, my back wasn't tight, my toe wasn't bothering me (I finally got a pair of running shoes on), and it was so much fun watching people passing by so I could see what kind of times they were going to have upon completion.
Within the last block I again looked at my watch and realized we were at 50 minutes and some change. Where's Jan?? I started worrying. I could not beat her in this race or it would mean she wasn't keeping the pace. Just then, she came by and touched my shoulder and I was so relieved! I started hustling then to see her finish. Her time? 52:27! She did it. I crossed the mat in 53:07, so I was happy about that too! She took third in her AG and was very pleased with her medal.
I felt good, and didn't really think I was that tired, but once I sat down, I realized how good it felt! Three miles and I am whipped! I have a lot of catching up to do.
A final note here: When I checked the walker results, I realized they had grouped all the women together and all the men and the top 3 got medals. Guess who got them? All the run/walkers. Well I wasn't there to win any awards, just to prove to myself I was improving, but I couldn't help but be annoyed with them. Since they all finished doing better than 14 min. miles, I pretty much knew they ran more than what I saw. I know its possible to do a 5k in that much time (I actually did one years ago--when I was in great shape and MUCH younger--in 42 minutes), but the people who do usually only WALK!