Goodwill 5000-Meter Run
Last Saturday my daughter Tory and I ran a 5K race called The Race Against Hunger; proceeds from the race benefit Goodwill Rescue Mission in Newark, NJ, a very worthy organization that provides food and much, much more to folks who need a hand up. We were glad to give our dollars to this organization in exchange for running on a beautiful fall day.
Tory and I ran the same race last year, when I was pounds lighter and in far better shape to run the course, which has a wicked hill at about the 2-mile mark. This year I laced up my cross trainers with trepidation.
To take my mind off the sure-to-be pain-to-come I started people watching. Runners, real runners, dedicated runners were easy to spot in the crowd; of course, they comprised most of the crowd since this race is part of the New Balance NJ Grand Prix and qualified as a 500-point race. Real runners were the folks who were reed thin or thinner. Their running shoes were disproportionately large compared with the circumference of their calves. They had weathered faces. They wore gloves and hats and made huffing sounds as they stretched. They trotted back and forth prior to the start of the race like thoroughbred racehorses. They tossed their heads and rolled their necks. They lifted their legs in high trots. They bounced from foot to foot. They often admired their own shadows as they trotted around (the guy who won the race did this. I saw him.). Some did imaginary sprints off the starting line, over and over again.
They made me tired just watching them. If I had done what the majority of them did just to warm up, I’d have had to sit down when the race actually began. I’d have been plumb wore out from the warm up.
Given the fine weather day, I was dressed in Capri-length spandex pants, a sleeveless Under Armor shirt and a light-weight fleece jacket. Most of the real runners wore what appeared to be a full body glove; they were covered in black neoprene-like fabric from neck to ankle and wore short-sleeved shirts and running shorts over top in an attempt to ward off the slight morning chill. Some even wore warm-up jackets! As a middle-aged Mom who is prone to hot flashes I almost snickered out loud as I figured out how hot they were going to be by the time they’d run the actual race.
Soon, too soon, it was time to line up. Tory chose a spot near the front of the pack. I slunk to the rear. That was a long slink since over 600 runners were lined up. I plugged my earphones in and cranked up some 80s music as the gun sounded. We were off!
Now if you’ve ever run competitively you know that only the first dozen or so people in the front actually start off running. The rest of us lurch to a stumbling walk, trying not to trample the person in front of us. It took about a half mile before the posers separated from the actual runners and I started running at a regular pace. I gave the runners pushing strollers wide berth. Those folks are often real runners who happen to have a child in tow; they ran like the wind while their child slept peacefully. I stayed out of their way.
Runners were mostly in front of me, but I was huffing along at a pretty good clip doing my walk/run thing. I reached the 1-mile clock in 12 minutes. I like to listen to 80s music through headphones because that way I can’t hear how hard I’m huffing and puffing. If I can’t hear myself breathing I do better.
I clocked in at 24:36 at the 2-mile mark, not too bad for not having run in months. But the hill loomed and I was pretty well spent. I walked up the hill and . . . was passed by a skinny woman who was 70 if she was a day, a young mom with a 6 year old and . . . are you ready? . . . a guy who weighed more than 350 pounds, I swear.
Determined (and, okay, somehow embarrassed) I passed those folks on the flat land once I caught my breath. Then I slowed up some so I could run up to the approach to the finish line. Since cheering people frequently line the approaches to finish lines my ego won’t let me walk across a finish line, any finish line! Finally, with the finish line in sight I moved from shambling along to a staggering run. . .and I crossed the line.
Not as fast as last year, but not terrible.