Saturday, April 9, 2011

#314: Krispy Kreme Challenge 5K... A New Personal Best!

Yes, he is dressed as a giant donut...
At the halfway mark of the race, which will be located on the backside of Nutter Field House near South Gate 10 of the stadium, there will be a large sign dividing “Competitive Runners” from the “Challenger Runners”. “Competitive Runners” will round the corner at the halfway mark and head back on the course to the finish line. “Challenger Runners” will stop off in the grassy area behind Nutter Field House where boxes of doughnuts and cups of water will be waiting. Please grab one box of doughnuts and hang out in the grassy area while you eat your doughnuts. When you have finished, please bring your empty Krispy Kreme box to the “Doughnut Check Station” where you will receive a special sticker for your bib if you completed the dozen doughnut challenge. Volunteers will take your empty box and show you the way back on to the running course to the finish line.

That's right, it's disgusting. It was also a very fun race.

I used a long warm up this time. Mrs P was not with me, so when I arrived at Commonwealth Stadium at 9:15 to pick up my bib, I was on my own. The morning was overcast and comfortable, 63 degrees.  I took a long walk around the parking lot, then started to jog a little. I would jog for ten or fifteen steps, then walk some more. I tried to see how slowly I could run, just to get the joints moving and break a little sweat. (My dad was a big sweater, and I inherited that trait from him. It doesn't take much to get me soaked.) I stopped by the car a couple of times for a sip of water and to remove my warm-ups a layer at a time. Around 10 minutes before the race, I was down to my shorts and shirt. I toweled off, and made my way to the starting pack.

There's an art to picking your place at the start. Sometimes there are signs. "Fast runners start here. Slow runners from this point back. Stumblers and fat men running to the rear." You don't want to be too far back, or you get jammed up in a bunch of walkers. On the other hand, if you're too close to the front, you spend the first quarter mile of the race being passed by speedier runners of all shapes, sizes, and ages. This can really break your spirit before you even get started. I usually try to position myself near the baby carriages. These parents tend to set a pretty good pace, and they hardly ever spit, a real plus on a windy day.

There is something inspiring about watching young people run. I admit, I usually only see this from behind, but still, a really smooth stride is a wonder to behold. A good runner seems barely to touch the ground. It's as if contact with the earth is merely incidental to what they're really doing: skimming along through the air. During warm ups, I watched a young woman and man running sprints across the parking lot. They would race from lane to lane, from light pole to light pole. Their strides had such efficiency and grace, I couldn't take my eyes off of them. I was tempted to be jealous for a moment - two beautiful, athletic young people in love, running together in the cool morning air - but then all I could do was admire them. It was like watching dolphins play. Just lovely.

About a mile into the race, I latched on to a woman who looked to be about my age. She was also taking frequent breaks, and we seemed to be on about the same pace for a while. One would pass the other on a run interval, then the other would take the lead the next time we switched. There was only one climb on the course, and not much of one at that, but when we reached the top, this lady did something extraordinary. She pulled off her shirt and started running in her sports bra. Now look, there are plenty of very sexy women my age, believe me. And I notice them. I do. My running partner was not one of them. From the back, she looked a little like I imagine I would look in a white sports bra. Lots of rolls and bubbles and folds and things. Not what you would call traditionally beautiful. But as she bunched her shirt up in her right hand and cruised away, leaving me in her dust, I could only cheer her on under my gasping breath. God bless you, Lady of a Certain Age. For one brief sweaty moment, you rocked my world.

The course was an "out and back" layout. At the halfway point, some of us turned, others stopped and faced the "Challenge." I was not among the eaters. My stomach is used to liquids and salads, not lard and dough. I was amazed to see so many donut eaters fly by me near the 2 mile mark. I guess they were burning sugar, like dragsters fueled by Nitro. Far as I could tell, everyone "held their donuts," but I can't vouch for what happened when they got home and all those carbs started "unloading."

Even without sugar-charged racing fuel, I had a good race. The course was flat. According to, not even a 100 foot gain. My goal was to break 40:00.  I finished in 38:36, a new personal best. I took four minutes off my time in the 5K by walking 55% of the way!
I used the intervals from my training run on Thursday. 40 seconds of running/50 seconds of walking. This felt silly for the first four intervals. I had barely rounded the first turn when my watch beeped and I started walking. The strollers zipped by me. At the next beep, I started running again. Nice and easy. Then at the first hill,  I started catching and passing people. It really worked! During the last mile, I ran with two young, fit looking twenty-somethings who had to sprint the last fifty yards to pabeat me to the finish. I felt like I was striking a blow for geezers everywhere. I had a good long cool down, then stopped by the registration tent to pick up my shirt. My XL shirt. Been a long time since I could fit into a shirt with only one "X" on the tag.

What's next? Well, no more races for a while. There's a 5K that benefits Woodford County's no-kill animal shelter in April that I want to run. There's a five miler in Frankfort in June.  But for now, I'm going to take it easy. Jeff Galloway says that long, slow runs will help to build my endurance. After today's race, I have to say I find him very persuasive. I want to get stronger so I can even out my R/W/R ratio. I'd like to be able to run more than I walk for the next race.  I still have my eye on running a 12 minute mile. And down the road, there's the Bluegrass 10,000 on July 4. That's one I've been dreaming about for along time. Sometimes when I'm running, I think of that race, just to help keep my feet moving.

Mom reminded me of something this week. It's hard to believe that a few months ago I couldn't cross the street without having to sit down on a car bumper and rest. I remember that day very well. I'm not sure, but that may be the morning I started thinking about the Bluegrass 10K. After today's run, I'm starting to believe it's really going to happen.


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