I find myself searching for challenges lately and so, on Wednesday 5th September 2012, I decided to register for a 5K race on Sunday 9th September (at 6AM) that was being partially sponsored by my employer. I discussed it with my personal and a couple people (10 people actually) who all agreed that I should try it out and get to understand my fitness level.
I had never attempted any kind of long distance race before and despite having run around the savannah a couple times in my life, I felt the task would be daunting. I was scared.
Scared because everyone kept talking about how easy a “5K” race is and that my time should be around 25 minutes max. Eh? Do people realise that the only running I do is “running my mouth”? Under 25 minutes? Dey mad yes!!.
I felt pressured to be good but I knew that my time around that course would not be so low. I wanted to back out. I was not ready and I wasn’t ready to take on a race that might see people pass me like a “full bus” while I struggled to breathe and get to the end.
Yup the fear of uncertainty was stinging clear and I was partially embracing it.
By Friday I had gone to the gym in the morning and played tennis that afternoon and the fear of the race still hadn’t left. I felt unfit, ill-prepared and unsure.
On Saturday, I found myself in the gym again and this time I did 20 minutes cross training on the elliptical machine followed by 15 minutes on the treadmill. I only ran for 5 minutes on the treadmill and walked for most of the other 10 minutes. I wasn’t ready. My mind however wasn’t feeling that bad and so I knew I was determined to do the race.
On Sunday, I got up around 5:30am and got dressed and left the house. I had my iPod slapped onto my arm and I had made a playlist called “Running” which I hoped would help me focus while I did it.
I got there and the race didn’t start until about 50 minutes later than expected. That was ok. It gave me a chance to stretch, survey my competition, suck my teeth at other people’s ridiculous fitness levels and also reassure myself that I was not in competition with anyone so I just needed to “chill out” and just pace myself. Some people were already “vamping at that hour of the morning but everyone seems geared up for it. They were ready. I was trying to calm myself.
They called everyone for the two races (5K and 15K) that they were running and so I went to the designated starting area. Adrenaline pumping and me, bouncing slightly to keep my anxiety at bay. I saw a whole bunch of unfit people all cramming to the fornt of the line while some seasoned runners were rolling their eyes at the chaos that would result from this. Then the starter went off. and my Ipod began to play….
Commander –Kelly Roland (Time:3:39)
I was ok at this point. I was trying to establish proper breathing as I ran down St. Clair avenue to turn by St Clair Medical Hospital. I was not in the lead or near the lead pack but I was pacing myself and trying to breathe at regular intervals. I had to keep reminding myself not to go too fast otherwise I would burn out quickly
Commander – Kelly Rowland (Time: 3:39)
As I passed the St Clair Tennis Courts, I made the song repeat as I felt I was establishing a rhythm with it. I was now running consistently and not trying to take over anyone but concentrate on what I was doing. As I rounded the corner I realised that I had to jog up a slight incline. It was hear that I started to feel the burn and when I got to the stop I started to walk. The incline had taken a lot out of me. By the time I crossed by Stollmeyer’s Castle over to the Savannah, I tried to return to running but my calves were in pain, so I walked some more.
Bet I – B.O.B (Time:4.17)
I started back running but much slower during this song and at one point I put the song on hold as I felt it was just noise now and not helping me . I locked on to a lady who had overtaken me and so I began to run behind her hoping to model her pattern and keep a pace. The damn woman speeded up and I could not match her and so around President’s House, I began to walk again.
Toxic – Britney Spears (Time:3:24)
Tightrope – Janelle Monae (Time:4.22)
Music is a blur at this point. I can’t hear it. Breathing is too erratic. Trying to jog slower but can’t. People are passing me in drones. Three fat people have sped passed me and I have no desire to even catch up to them. As I reach near Citibank, I am still walking with intermittent running.
Funhouse – Pink (Time:3:24)
A fat guy just passed me as I am walking and he is jogging at a near crawl. WTH!!! I begin to run again as I insist that he CANNOT beat me to the finish line. This burst of speed results in me running til I got close to NAPA. I started a slow trot as I came upon someone handing out water.
Just Like A Pill – Pink (Time3:56)
Wow!! My first water during a race. I wasn’t thirsty at all but everyone says to take small sips as it helps to keep your body from dehydrating. Why did I pick this Pink song?
I continue to trot and I keep noticing the other runners are throwing almost full bottles of water to the roadside after barely taking one sip. What a waste!! Who has to clean that up? An Indian girl in a pink and purple outfit has just run passed me. .. Run…just as fast as I can..
Don’t Let Me Get Me – Pink (Time:3:30)
At this point, I find the water bottle is too much to hold and so I discard it near The Ministry of Foreign Affairs building Knowsley. I feel slightly guilty and I start to walk at this point.
Let Me Think About It: Ida Corr vs. Fredde Le Grande (Time: 2:40)
I continue to walk until I get to Sagicor. I have overtaken the Indian girl in pink and purple twice so far but everytime I do it she runs ahead of me and then begins to walk again. What is her story? Oh wait!! Could it be that I am that individual she has determined should not beat her? OH Lord I am her “fat” person!!
Fat boy has also passed me at this point but my walk is steady.
Before I reach the turn, I see a work colleague, Joel, who has already finished the race in a time of 21 mins. He looks at me and says,
Pump It – Black Eyed Peas (Time: Unknown)
“Boy stop walking and RUN to the finish line!! It is right there!”
And so with that I take off around the corner leaving pink and purple girl and fat boy in my dust.
I thought I left Joel back at the top where he met me but He was actually running alongside me and as I reached the QRC roundabout he kept shouting:
“SPRINT, SPRINT, SPRINT to the finish line!!!! Yuh almost there!!”
And so I did.
I ran as fast as I could. I ran as if free Krispy Kreme donuts were on the other side of the finish line!!
My time as I looked up: 33:38
I crossed the finish line and smiled to myself.
I DID IT!!
I ran a race and thanks to Joel, that last sprint made me feel alive!
It didn’t take me long to catch my breath after and to realise that my joints weren’t in as much pain as I thought. I realise that I had psyched myself out somewhere along the course and “bad mind” didn’t kick in and so I delayed myself. I should have finished under 30mins. I could have finished faster.
It doesn’t matter now. I was actually proud of myself for completing the race. It felt really good to do it. Who knew exercise could feel this good?
I didn’t stick around much longer at the event. I got home and told myself that I would get some rest. I wasn’t sleepy or tired. Instead I did a whole bunch of stuff around the house and then went to Pricesmart for groceries.
Hmm I wonder if I should try to run the course at 6am this Sunday?
Look I am all for initiative but getting out of bed at that hour again seems impossible but I will try.
Wish me luck!!