It was Alissa’s idea. For her, the idea of having a goal like a 5k walk is an attractive way to motivate her to exercise, hence our walks around Greenlake. As for me, I’ve never like running…not that running was ever a on the table…and there’s something indefinable about the whole community race/run/fun run thing that leaves me cold. I’d be much happier teaming up with a runner who doesn’t like to bike or swim and two two legs of a short triathlon than do a run/walk/fun run. So when I came home from a very long day at work with a sore ear and sore throat to learn that Alissa had been unable to register us online and we were thus not committed, I had hope that maybe maybe maybe we would change our plans and go to the Sound of Music Sing-along in Edmonds.
No such luck. Alissa used her beguiling charms on me and I agreed to go for it. Well, I agreed to see how I felt in the morning. I awoke after less sleep than I intended, although that was not a bad thing in the least, and a decidedly sore throat and coldy-feeling nose. A couple of running websites advocated a “neck check” to determine if one should run(walk) with a cold. And so it was that an hour hence found Alissa’s brother, fresh from finishing the NYC Marathon a few weeks back, dropping us off with the kids stayed with his wife who ran the same race in 2010. But today, we found ourselves at Seattle Center registering for the walk outside McCaw Hall.
Before long we had our bibs.
Milling around we ran into Alissa’s cousin, Debbie who was running. Eventually, we made our way to the starting area. There were people standing with signs that said “Pace 5:00” or 6 or 7, etc. I asked the woman holding the 11:00 sign what they were for. Apparently you’re supposed to line up according to how fast you cover a mile. I had seen a sign for 12:00+, but it was nowhere to be found, so we stayed put.
Now, 5k should not be a big deal. It’s 3.1 miles over a relatively (but not totally) flat paved course. We were covering Greenlake’s 2.9 mile loop in a couple of hours while tending to the needs of two small children, and despite my cold and tiredness, my legs were actually feeling pretty decent. Still, this was an event populate by folks who are in much better shape that we are. I think it’s safe to say that I was today’s largest participant. We were expecting to finish near the end, and we were heartened to hear the announcers give instructions to people who might be going over the 2 hour mark on avoiding being run over by the children’s marathon that would be coming behind us.
We were ready to start. The horn sounded, and we were off. There’s something about the start of a race that gets the adrenaline going and makes me want to, well, race. This initial feeling faded quickly as the crowd around me dispersed. Alissa had been acting just a little too…um…enthusiastic for my mindset, so we agreed that she would get on her pace and I’d get on my slower pace. Eventually, it was me and the lady on a bike following the rear of the pack, and I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to finish dead last.
Still, the conditions were good: cloudy, cool, but very moderate in every way. I immersed myself in the enjoyment of walking urban streets that I used to frequent on a daily basis. The first hundred yards or so were part of my old walking commute. Zeek’s Pizza fed our wedding rehearsal dinner at the drop in center where Alissa and I had volunteered for four years. The walk down Second Avenue brought back memories of walking through downtown streets in a fedora and raincoat before I had a car in Seattle. Stops on early bus commutes came into view as did Benroya Hall, which I seen built from the ground up.
Alissa was about 30 yeards ahead of me and I caught her a few times when she stopped to rest and wait for me. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Naturally the modest climbs led to a bit more huffing and puffing, but nothing problematic in the least. Yes, my legs were getting tired, but not to an unexpected degree.
Finally, I crossed Denny and headed up the last hill into Seattle Center and could see the finish line being dismantled…not unexpectedly. The clock was still going, and I crossed with a time of 1:23 and change.
It was in the wandering around afterward that my knees started to rebell, and by the time I got in the car, I was legitimately in pain. I’ve had a hard time moving all afternoon, and it was only in the post mortem that I realized why. Sure, we’d been doing Greenlake in a couple of hours, and I’d assumed we’d be faster without tending to the kids. What I didn’t count on was the fact that the kids paced us. They caused us to stop and rest. Without them, shaving 37 minutes off of a time from a shorter walk made for a relatively blistering pace, as blistering as 2 miles per hour can be.
So, was it fast? No. Was it pretty? Was it a great display of athleticism? Of course not. But, I walked the whole course. I walked across the finish line with my head held high. I didn’t stagger or complain or even once contemplate quitting, despite my earlier hopes of backing out.
That’s got to count for something.