Middle of the pack. That’s where I wanted to be, because that’s where everyone told me I should be. I was new at this, and I still wasn’t very fast, so middle of the pack was the best place to start. Let the fast ones get out front, and the old, the slow, the ones with kids, strollers, let them fall behind. Middle of the pack. Middle of the pack. Middle of the pa…
And that’s what I thought about during my second 5K road race last week. I took part in my first race back in May, but it was so last minute that I didn’t have much time to think about it. But for my second 5K, I had an agenda: I wanted a Personal Record. It was a flat, fast course, so I knew I could get it.
Here’s the thing: I’m fat. Overweight is the term we use in polite company, but either way, I’m bigger than I should be. I’m in pretty damn good health otherwise (aside from a funky spine), but I’ve noticed that I sit a lot more than I did when I was younger. Which, of course, leads to getting fat. Last summer, I decided it was time to get back into athletic shape (meaning I could walk up a short incline without wheezing like an 85 year old man), so I started jogging. I started up with a Couch-To-5K app on my phone, joined Runkeeper.com, and mapped out a 3.1 mile course in my neighborhood (for those not in the know, 3.1 mi = 5K).
It started off well. I even got up to 4 miles running with only a few walking breaks. But by October, my hip started to hurt (when I say hurt, I mean crippling, stabbing pains like the hot poker of hell was digging into my lower back) and winter was well on her way, so I stopped. I went to the gym at least twice a week, but we all know that’s not the same. So I was getting more sedentary as the winter months wore on, and the scale was showing it.
I made a New Year’s Resolution. I didn’t call it that, but that’s what it was. I was going to run a 5K race this year. At least one. So the first step was to get my hip back in shape and out of pain. That involved a lot of stretching and therapy sessions at the chiropractor’s office. Once that was squared away, I started running, gingerly at first, to get my body used to the stress.
The first 5K happened by chance. The guys at work were doing a 5K and Rememberance Walk. The boss was going to do it too, and I challenged him to run it with me. In the end, he walked the course, but I was the only one from the team to run it. It was a good goal, and I proudly accomplished it. The Fiancée came to support me as I ran, even though she wasn’t feeling well that morning. I set a PR that day too: 38:50. I know, slow as a freaking turtle, but it was great for me.
This race, however, I was to do alone. Standing in that crowd at the starting line, alone, no one there to cheer me on, you’d think I’d have sunk into a deep depression. But I was focused. I was psyched. I was ready. And then I started running, and my legs refused to move. I was suddenly weak and tired. Here I was, coming up on the first (small) hill, and my legs didn’t want to go. So I pushed. And walked. And ran. And I finished. 38:03.
Yeah. A new PR.