25 August 2009

Five Thousand Meters.

Figured I needed to post about this before too much time passed by. Earlier this month, I ran the 2009 Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure 5K here in downtown Kansas City. Here's my race number.

This being my first real race, I'd attempted to train for it so that I wouldn't end up eating a faceful of asphalt.  A couple of months ago I'd planned out a circuit in my neighborhood for roughly the same distance.  It actually turned out to be about 3.7 miles, a bit more than five kilometers, so it suited my purposes nicely.  Training wasn't quite as consistent as I would've liked it to be -- there were days when I'd just be too tired or busy to run -- but I think I improved quickly and increased my stamina (plus it didn't feel quite like a Couch Potato To 5K program since I'd been a regular runner in the past).

It felt good to train though, and on the circuit I attempted to run a little more and walk a little less every time.

Early on the morning of the race, I carpooled with My Peoples to secure a decent parking space downtown and parked at the World War I Memorial.  Yes, it's cliched, but the mood down at Union Station was definitely electric.


We heard later that the turnout was over 28,000 people!  Most, like us, were part of groups and participating in the non-competitive race-walk.  Some were even decked out in funny T-shirts with a dedication to a loved one and/or clever group name, or other various eye-catching pink costumes and attire like capes, angel wings or boas (the serious, competitive runners had already started their race a few minutes earlier).

Before long we had assembled on Grand waiting for our turn to take off -- since we couldn't all go at once, start times were staggered.  It took four of us, the ones who would be running the distance, a good ten minutes to reach the front of the pack and all of a sudden we were off at a brisk pace, weaving in and out of slower runners and walkers.  I'm not saying we were Speedy Gonzales with it but a lot of people were just walking and enjoying themselves, and dodging them took a bit of strategy.

Every few blocks, volunteers handed out water cups, while live bands of all genres belted out upbeat songs to keep us motivated.  They provided a good adrenaline boost especially on some of the uphill sections of the course.  In retrospect I'm really glad I trained outside and not on a treadmill -- it feels completely different.

Nonetheless, a couple of times I had to stop and walk for a minute or two to catch my breath (my lungs always end up fatiguing long before my legs do).  I was hoping to be able to run the whole thing but it wasn't the case.  I didn't mind though.  I was able to soak in the tremendously fun atmosphere of the event and kicked back into high gear.  The course definitely seemed three miles long as there were times when it admittedly got a bit tough due to my relative newness to the sport, but we crossed the finish line, tired yet very proud, to the loud cheers of hundreds of raucous, smiling people.

The exhilirating experience of running downtown with thousands of other people, combined with the positive energies of all the volunteers and racers, was one of the best things I've done for myself this year.  I'd definitely run again, and now that I know what to expect, train a little more consistently for it so that I won't gas out during the more difficult portions of the course.  It was such a great time though, and thanks to everyone who shared this day with me.

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