Just finish before the pregnant lady. And the nine-year-old.
When I wrote down my goals for today’s 5k, I thought of three things: Finish it. Finish it in under 40 minutes. If you’re having a good day, finish it in under 36:10.
Then, I got to the start of the 5K, which was in what you would call a “tony” part of town. And when I saw the pregnant woman pushing the stroller with a number attached to her shirt and the kids – lots and lots of kids – I told myself the first statement of this post, and texted it to a runner friend of mine in Canada.
The starting line wasn’t really clear, just a line of blue tape across a side street. And then the race started – with an actual starting gun, and before I knew it, people started jogging. At a really fast pace. And I was jolted to run. But as I went through that first half mile, I watched all the happy runners in front of me and thought, by the first mile and a half, a lot of these people will be walking.
Sure enough. By the time I trotted to the first mile, I passed several people who’d already begun to walk. I felt a little better about myself. I remember a lot of the run. There were lots of dads pushing strollers. Three cyclists cut across the course at one point, as a course marshal’s back was turned (smooth move, buddy). Some kid had a super soaker and I waved at him. He aimed in my direction. Man, did that cool blast feel good.
After the 2-mile mark, I came upon the second and final hill.
OK, here’s the last hill. OK, I’ve done hills before … once before.
I remembered what a coworker told me about running up hills: shorten your stride and pantomime pulling yourself up the hill with a rope.
Then, as I rounded the corner towards the high school, something kicked in. I motored in that last quarter of a mile, and I didn’t see pregnant women or nine-year-olds. I saw the scoreboard above the football field as I crossed the finish line.
My runner friend wrote back to me after the 5k: “HA HA! Good luck! You got this!”