Blogs | 4/6/2012 12:53:18 PM | Don Stevens
So here’s another blog that has absolutely nothing to do with the Amerks, the playoffs or hockey.
Mark this day on your calendars: April 1st, 2012… and this is no April Fools joke. This is the day I ran my very first 5K. Now, this isn’t something that will go down in the annals of sports history, but if you had told me a year ago that I would run, and complete, a 5K, I would’ve been rolling all over the ground in total hysteria, and back then I would’ve had a lot of trouble getting back up off the ground.
The event was the annual Cardinal Race for Courage at St. John Fisher College. A GREAT cause, with proceeds going to the Craig Charron Foundation. Kudos to the organizers for an outstanding event. I don’t know for sure, but it looked like it was run by the local college students. Everything was very well-organized and went off without a hitch.
First step… registration. When I walked into the gymnasium to sign up for the event, the first thing I see is a lot of VERY YOUNG, VERY SKINNY people, which was truly intimidating. It would take six of them to equal the size of my left leg. It was quite evident I was in big trouble.
Second step… warm-up. Thirty minutes before race time, here’s the other participants running around the parking lot or in the gym, stretching and doing all those other pre-race things. I opted for sitting and watching in disbelief. Then the announcement came to head out to the football field where this monumental event would begin, and hopefully end.
More jogging, sprinting and stretching. For me, more standing around, trying not to look like a Rookie.
Third step… final preparation. Another announcement and everyone crowds up to the start line. I move to the back as I don’t want to get in anyone’s way. Since I knew very well that I would soon be at the back of the pack, I thought starting out there was the best thing to do. That way, I wouldn’t be passed by everyone.
Fourth step… the race begins…. 3 – 2 – 1 GO !!!!!! Just about everyone, except for me, takes off like this is a 100-yard dash. The very front runners look like they were just shot out of a cannon. The race started with a lap on the running track around the new football field. So I tell myself, “it’s more important to finish, so just settle in to my own pace.” This worked real well… I was just about lapped before getting to the stadium exit.
As I’m getting into my grove, I begin to size up the competition, trying to see which ones I’m going to start passing. But they are all rapidly disappearing from my sight. There was one man that had to be a couple years older then me which made me think I might have a running partner. He soon disappeared. I’m thinking that any time now, some of them are going to start dropping out of the pack and I’ll begin picking them off one at a time. NOT HAPPENING !!!!! They keep going… at the same pace !! There was even a man, pushing a stroller with a two-year-old in it, and he just blew my doors off. Now all that’s going through my mind is, “What am I doing here?”
Before the race, Anthony (one of the event organizers, and the one I let talk me in to this very humbling experience), had given me a map. I said, “I don’t need it, I’ll just follow everyone else.” This is also working real well… I’m losing site of everyone. The good news, there’s lots of race officials along the course with big orange flags to point the way. The bad news is, there’s lots of race officials along the way, which prevents me from taking a shortcut. Also, there were a lot more of them pointing at the roads going uphill, than there were pointing at the downhill roads.
Fifth step… find the finish line. It’s at this point that I finally figure out that I’m no longer part of the party, but rather just out for a jog on my own. And I’m OK with that, until I re-enter the stadium, only to find everyone else standing around, rehydrating and socializing. Then they tell me, just one more lap around the stadium and it’s over. ONE MORE LAP… ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I’m waiting for someone to yell out, “April Fools!!!”
Doesn’t happen, so one more lap.
Sixth step… cross the finish line. As I approached the final few steps, there were several of the much earlier finishers offering encouragement. They were very politely, and diplomatically telling me how good I was doing.
Finally I cross the line, and the torture is over after 32:21. I don’t know if that’s a good time, but from how far behind I was, it seems I definitely need to work on my pace. I’m figuring that out of about a hundred runners, I came in somewhere around 714th.
Seventh step… try to recover. I left the track and went back into the gym. I walked right past the table loaded with bagels and cream cheese and drinks… straight out to my car and head toward home. After getting on the highway, I tried to pass every car I could find. It was the only way I could try and regain some personal sense of self-worth. Once home, I head straight to the freezer, looking for all the ice bags I could find.
So now five hours later, as I write this blog, we are on a nice three-hour bus ride to the Toronto airport, which will be followed immediately by a four-and-a-half hour plane fight to Vancouver, which will be followed immediately by about another hour bus ride to the hotel. I’m thinking that isn’t such a good thing. The stiffness is already setting in and I can’t even imagine what I’ll feel like in the morning.
No matter how I feel, it’s all worth it. Something I’ve always wanted to try, I’ve now tried and accomplished… another item to tick off the “bucket list.”
So, that’s the story of my very first 5K run. The big question now… was that my last 5K run?