Saturday, September 02, 2006

My First 5K

Just how I assumed the pre-race would be. I signed up, paid and got a t-shirt. I had 20 minutes to stretch, relax and prepare myself for my first race ever. Dew was still on the grass. Other runners milling about, stretching, light running. I had participated in sports in high school, college and as an adult, so a little 5K in a Tempe, Arizona park was not going to get me stressed out. As soon as I got to the registration table, the lady looked at me and said, I thought that was you. Surprised that I knew anyone in the race community, I looked at her face and couldn’t place it. Turns out she did some volunteer work with an organization my wife was involved with over 5 years ago. She had even referred a client to me a few years back. I felt bad that I had not remembered her. But, more importantly, I was impressed she remembered my wife and I. Then I started getting nervous. I didn’t plan on winning anything or even place in the top half of runners. But, now it seemed that everyone was a flat belly, young and had been running for way longer than I have. At the start I felt bad that I was in front of runners that would undoubtedly pass me in the first few hundred yards.

I could have been sleeping. It was 7 am. I’m not a morning person. Last Thursday I ran and felt tired. Just two miles of running and I was going to run a 5K on Saturday? I decided that I didn’t want to get up early and run when I wasn’t ready. So, I didn’t pre register. I took Friday off and went to bed thinking I would just sleep in. Then around 5:15 am I awoke. I couldn’t fall back to sleep. The weather was great and I was awake, so I decided to run.

Kiwanis Park in Tempe is an oasis in the desert. A huge lake with boat rentals, soccer fields, softball fields, an indoor wave pool and so much more. Up until today, I had never run in a park. Since I started running this year, I had not done any hills. No running on grass. Heck, I never even ran in the daylight with others. I started in the middle of the pack watching the fast runners take off. I passed some runners to my surprise and some runners passed me. I soon settled in behind a woman and her young daughter. The daughter was full of energy. She jumped up to smack a stop sign and was having a good time. For a moment I thought about hitting the sign too. But, the adult in me decided I needed to conserve my strength. So I slowed down even more. If I was passing people, I was probably going out to fast.

This was the “Run for Brooke”, a small 5K to raise money for an 11 year girl with a rare bone cancer called Osteosarcoma ( I had lost a cousin (in law) earlier in the year to another sarcoma, so maybe it was Sally waking me up to “Run for Brooke”. I’m proud to be a new member of the running community that gives so much to charities and people like Brooke who really can use our help.

I never knew there was a tunnel under All American Way in the park. What I liked best was there was a water stop right after the tunnel. I had hardly noticed the lake because just ¾ of a mile into the race, I was already a bit tired. I didn’t want to walk early, because I didn’t see anyone else walking. I pushed on until the water stop, got a drink, thanked the volunteers and moved on.

Back in June I started running. Not sure why. I just went out the front door and started running down the street. Did I make it 100 yards? Probably not. I finished walking a mile. But, I was a runner at that point and I knew that I would keep running until I could run for much further distances. How far? I still don’t know. This month I kicked it up a notch. I started run/walking 2, then 3 miles at a time. My times came down from 59 minutes to just at 40 minutes on my 3 mile course.

Now, a mile and a half into the race, I see more people pacing themselves by walking a bit. I do the same as I pass the softball fields were I have played for the past few years. I remember being winded after running the bases. This year will be different. I remember watching the joggers run out past the home run fence and not understanding why they would do such a thing. Now I get it.

The mother that I was following early in the race had kept running when her daughter decided to walk. I was between the two of them. Then I saw the mom jogging back the opposite way. I guess mom’s often do more than the mandatory 3.1 miles. I didn’t see them again until the end.

I saw a man that was about my age and in about the same physical condition. He and I both needed to lose some pounds. He would pass me by and then walk. I would pass him by and then walk. This continued for most of the second mile. Eventually, I didn’t pass him again.

I saw a young man of about 12 walking. He looked like he had hit the wall. Five minutes later he ran pass me like I was standing still. Honestly, I wasn’t. I might have been walking.

Towards the end, as we once again got to run along the lake, I said hi to another runner. She looked at me and said she thought she could run it all. But, it was too hot. It was in the high 80’s at 7:30 in the morning in Arizona. I just nodded. It was hot, even if it is a dry heat.

In the end, I got to run as fast as I could the last 50 yards, as the race organizers clapped and cheered me on. I had finished in an unofficial time of 42:17. And I was happy.

Hopefully, Brooke is too!

116 PAT MONAHAN M 44 57/84 15/17 211 42:15 13:36

The official line for my first 5K. I was 116th out of 234 (walkers included). The 57th male, the 15th 40 yo. My time was two seconds faster than I recorded for a 13:36 per mile pace.

1 comment:

pika said...

Congratulations on your first 5K Pat... which, by the way, was faster than my first 5k time of 47 and change.

It won't be long before you're running the whole three miles. Keep up the good work.