To say I was unprepared for my inaugural road race is an understatement.
Army hubby, who had started running about six months before, was picking up his “packet” (which I was quite sad to learn did not contain potato chips) for the 2011 Chick fil-A 5K and Running of the Cows in Newport News, Va, when he turned to me and said: “You want to do it too?”
“Errrrrr, sure,” I replied, promptly breaking out into a lavish sweat. I am an asthmatic, you see. I know that means little at a time when every second athlete seems to be sporting a puffer, but it has always kept me from doing anything that even remotely resembles running.
We returned to our hotel room that evening and I began my mental preparations, which consisted of visualizing the ambulance ride to the hospital. Probably a technique not advised by running coaches.
I positioned myself at the back of the 1,120 runners, thinking I could remain inconspicuous among the mommies and their giant strollers. I had no idea what to do. Should I start fast? Should I stroll casually? Should I trot? Should I smile? I wished I were a kid, then I could have run a mile alongside oversized fuzzy cows (Chick fil-A’s mascots). Now THAT sounded like fun.
Convinced I was going to come last whatever happened, I settled on a run/walk combination I called the “ralk.” I started slowly, cursing the sun, which had started beating down mercilessly. I ralked as best as I could. I couldn’t get air in fast enough. My legs were pudding.
Running with a crowd
Despite the pain, I realized about halfway through the race why running with a crowd outdoors beats pounding the treadmill any day. I was propelled forward by an invisible force. It could have been the promise of free chicken burgers at the end. But more likely it was the overwhelming desire to not shame myself in public.
And I didn’t. I was slow, but not that slow. My face, however, gave new meaning to the color red.
The event: Chick fil-A 5K
The location: Newport News, Va
The date: May 28, 2011
My time: 37.31
Hubby’s time: 22.45
The T-shirt: Light blue tech shirt with Chick fil-A logo
The aftermath: Bananas, chicken burgers!