Monday, 19 September 2011

A New Runner's 5k Army Run Postmortem

Behind the starting line: It's really cold this morning. Maybe I should have worn pants and kept my jacket on. My hands are freezing. It becomes more comfortable as we join the thousands of warm bodies corralled behind the starting line. What will it be like when we start running? Good thing I don't run fast enough to create a wind chill factor, ha ha! I decide to stop worrying. Besides, other people are dressed like me and they look like they know what they're doing. I wish there was room for a stretch or a warm-up. I probably should have done that before coming.

Starting line: There are so many of us that we walk through the start and then jog slowly for a bit before we can speed up. I am impressed by the variety of shapes, sizes, and ages of the runners. More than 7300 runners with a single purpose: to cross the finish line. All that energy, enthusiasm and glowing good health! Awesome!

.25 km: I am not used to running in the morning, not used to a cold start (literally or figuratively) and it's uphill. What have I gotten myself into!? I am already behind my teammates but I can see them and I am keeping pace. I think about all the people who are wishing me success today, all the people who pledged money for my run, and all my friends and Running Room classmates who are running in this race and the half-marathon later. There's so much good will and energy that I can't fail. I send it back.

.50 km: Are you kidding me? My new capris are falling down! Note to self: try new running gear in action before race day. Uuuuuuuurgh! *hoist*

1.25 km: Oferpetessake. I accidentally reset my borrowed Nike+ so I can't keep track of my time and distance anymore. And I suddenly feel hungry. Really hungry. Like, hollow hungry. Should I have eaten more? Should I have eaten later? *hoist*

App. 1.5 km: I am still behind my teammates but there's a bit of a downward slope so I can still see them. The distance between us is widening. They are younger, fitter and faster than I am and I am happy I am not slowing them down. Our original plan was to stay together but that didn't seem fair (to them) so I'm glad we changed it. Go, girls! So far I have not been able to hit my stride. (I never will during the entire race, at least not for more than a minute or two at a time, because I am either slowing down to avoid, turning to manoeuvre around, or speeding up to pass other runners. I hadn't anticipated this. Interesting.) *hoist*

App. 2 km: My God, it's hot! I am completely overdressed. I'm so hot that I wonder if I can take my shirt off and run in just my sports bra (as if!). But the bib's pinned to the shirt, my earbuds are snaked through it, and I've got a waist pack on. Too complicated. Sanity prevails. The course has levelled out and I've lost sight of my teammates but there are lots of people lining the course and cheering us on so I feel encouraged. I think I see people around a pace bunny slowing to a walk. I follow suit, glad to have a little rest, but a few seconds later we're all running again. *hoist*

App. 2.5 km: By now I am convinced that my teammates are so far ahead of me that I'm looking across the canal for them, trying to spot them amongst the runners who are on their way back. Oh, what is this I see before me? A hydration station! I have my own water with me and I don't feel thirsty but I feel I have to grab a cup, sip, and toss it into the grass just to round out my race experience. Hee! *hoist*

App. 3.25 km: I catch up to one of my teammates. I am happy and relieved to see her. She looks happy and relieved to see me. We take our pre-planned walk break and will run the rest of the way together. *hoist*

App. 3.5 km: I drop my water bottle. Know what's a bad idea? Turning around and running in the opposite direction when there's a wall of 3000 people behind you, that's what.

4 km: I know I'm at 4 km because I see a sign that says so. The 4k mark is where I typically lose my oomph. True to form, I feel my blood sugar drop and my energy levels nosedive. I take a short walk break. This has got to be the longest kilometer EVER. *hoist*

4.5 km: Only .5 to go and I am struggling so I walk another few seconds to get my heart rate down and even out my breathing then try to catch up to my teammate. *hoist*

4.75 km: Suddenly my teammate takes off like a bat out of hell. What the...?! A couple of seconds later I realize the finish line is just up ahead so I take off too.

5 km: Woohoo! I am DONE and when I realize that I did it in less time than I anticipated I am overjoyed and very proud of myself. I see my teammate leaning on the fence, breathing hard, and I join her, all smiles.

Post finish line: We reunite with the teammates who have already crossed and as we wait for our last member, we compare our times and experiences. I am chilled to the bone. And wet. Man, it's cold! Once we are all together again we pick up our dogtags. The young uniformed soldier who gives me one thanks me. Thanks me. "No, thank you," I say. "No, thank you," he says, "For being here and running today." My God. As if my time and effort compares. But I let him have it because there are hundreds of people crossing the finish line and waiting for their tags too. There are snack tables everywhere. I see energy bars, bagels and fresh fruit. Who can eat right after a run? I'm not hungry at all!
Pledge total: $565

Place 3234/7353
City Orleans
Bib # 10976
Time 35:22.2
Chip 32:29.6
Pace 7:05
Category Women 40 - 49
Category Place 299/1010
Gender Place 1407/4291