Saturday, August 2, 2008

Running a 5K

I (Dessert Survivor) entered my first 5K race in almost two years on Saturday. Each 5K is different, but there are some things you expect from a well-managed race.

Generally you can register in advance and save a few dollars, but you also can register at the check-in.
When you do check in, you get usually get a goodie bag, and the highlight is usually a tee shirt. This year the race organizers gave long-sleeved tee shirts, which are great for running in the fall and winter.
There is time to kill before the race. One important thing to do is make sure you know where the nearest facilities are, especially if you are an old man.
After a lot of milling around and talking to friends, people are eager to get started. They line up on the start line several minutes before the start, and everyone tries to find the best position. This race is held before the new school year begins and there are kids who will be running cross country in the fall. They usually claim the first row, and they start fast.
We are off and running. I am old, perhaps the oldest runner in the race, and it takes a while for me to get into a comfortable pace. There is a tendency for young runners to start too fast and run out of gas later. I always enjoy passing them.
This year the race had a different course because the old course had road construction. But like the old course, it was an out-and-back rather than a loop. With an out-and-back those of us who are not so fast will get to see who is leading the race. Here Naza, as expected, has pulled away from the field. Naza runs cross country in college and loves to run. The picture is a bit fuzzy because I am taking it as I am running and I cannot hold the camera steady.
I finally get round the turnaround and start back. There are people ahead of me and people behind me. I have closed the gap on the girl ahead of me and will eventually pass her.
By the end of the race I was running alone, about 30 seconds behind a group ahead of me and about 30 seconds ahead of the person behind me. (The race results will tell me if that my impression was correct.) I have run about as fast as I can and it takes me about fifteen minutes to catch my breath. Three years ago I was more than a minute faster. Can I blame old age?
Waiting at the finish are cold drinks, cookies, and apples. Yes, cookies. Dessert after the race. Next to the tee shirt, the cookies and drinks are the most important reward for entering a race. I drink three little bottles of gator aide, and eat an apple and a bunch of cookies. (I like cookies.) According to one calories counter, I expended about 400 calories running the race. But I consume a lot more after the race. Does running this race causes me to gain weight?
After the race there is a drawing for various prizes. The winners are usually pretty happy, even if what they won is not very useful to them. The prizes are mostly donated by sponsors, and they get a little ad on the back of the tee shirt. This year I did not win anything.
And then there are the results and the ribbons for age divisions. I got a red ribbon. Unfortunately for me a super runner, Roger S, is in my age group. He ran a bit over 19 minutes. Once school starts, the high school and college runners no longer enter the 5Ks, and Roger wins many of the races he enters even though he is over 55 years old. I was about four minutes slower than Roger.

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