I’m not a swift runner. In fact, the best compliment I’ve heard is “You’re not as slow as you look,” and that was after an inside-the-park home run in co-ed softball.
But as you know, I hit the treadmill each night and participate in the occasional 5K race.
My goal time of 30 minutes has been out of reach for years. I realize that this is not a fast time, coming in at around 10 miles an hour. But it’s a target.
I’ve found some Web sites that post results, and I’ve found a high of 38.43 minutes in 2005, and I hit a best time of 31.21 minutes this past May.
So I was looking forward to this year’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, a 5K fund-raiser for breast cancer research. I’ve been keeping up with my running and I’ve lost weight.
The downside is that this is an emotional race with many, many people who are not serious runners, or even quasi-semi-serious runners, like me. Let’s just say there are a lot of strollers and dogs.
Which is not a bad thing. Many of these people are running in memory of a person they’ve lost, or supporting someone battling the disease, which is the point of the event.
Lining up Saturday morning, I saw that organizers separated the community walkers from the 5K racers, which is a good thing, since it means fewer people clogging the streets.
Then I learned that the race results would be based on “gun time” instead of “chip time,” which is a bad thing. Gun time is the period between when the race starts and when the runner crosses the line.
But all racers had a little computer chip attached to their sneakers, and chip time is the period between when the individual runner crosses the start line and then crosses the finish line. This give you a better time if there is a big crowd at the start.
But I was pumped. When the gun fired, I hit the start button on the iPod and took off. Serious runners scoff, but the music is important to me. It helps me keep a pace and provides some distraction and inspiration. Here’s the new race playlist I made for the Komen:
1) “Pressing On,” Relient K
2) “Never Going Back to OK,” The Afters
3) “Time Has Come,” MercyMe
4) “God Will Life Up Your Head,” Jars of Clay
5) “Hold You High,” By the Tree
6) “Life is Good,” Stellar Kart
7) “Awakening,” Switchfoot
8) “Something Beautiful,” Newsboys
9) “Must Have Done Something Right” Relient K
Good stuff. So I hit the button and heard only crackling – an unexpected headphone malfunction. The cat is the main suspect right now. As I ran I tinkered with the wires, and was able to get some sound in some of the speakers some of the time. So I was already out of my comfort zone as I headed up the big hill at the start of the race.
This event places volunteers at each mile marker reading out times as you pass.
I was surprised to hear the person yell out “8:40” as I ran past. That’s way faster than my usual pace.
I hit the second mile, and heard “18:10” and thought that was my typical pace between miles and showed I was slowing down. And I was feeling it, too. My calves were barking, and other runners seemed to be passing me. And the music was crackling instead of providing inspiration.
Heading through Grandville High in the final mile, I decided 30 minutes was probably lost, but I’d give it my all.
With the finish line in the distance, “Something Beautiful” came crackling and I thought about its message. It was a beautiful day, and people all around were wearing the pink shirts signifying they are breast cancer survivors. The race goal was nice, but the true meaning of the day was to raise money in hopes of creating more people in pink shirts in the future.
Then I was close enough to the clock to make out the digits – and the first two were “28.” The goal was in sight! In the May race, I was able to sprint out the final several hundred feet, weaving through traffic like a running back.
I tried to do the same here, but there was very little in the tank. I was able to pick it up a little, but not much. I crossed the line at 29:10. That’s gun time, so I figure chip time would have shaved at least 10 seconds off – I was able to beat the elusive goal, and beat my previous best by more than 2 minutes.
That sure made the Panera Bread pink ribbon bagels at the end of the race all the more tasty.
I wore my low-profile Mets cap during the race, trying to bring some good karma to the team. Johan Santana threw his gem later in the day. Everything all was good in the world for at least one more day.