Thursday, July 8, 2010

View from the back

Back of the pack, that is.  I haven't had much time to blog, but I also haven't been training much.  Much might actually be too generous.  I haven't been training at all.  An injury to my leg has totally sidelined me, two weeks before a major race.  Not only was I behind in training due to my schedule and the weather, this added a major wrinkle.  I haven't run at all and have been going to the sports doctor every few days to have it checked out and "worked" on.  He isn't sure exactly what the problem is and feels I have several contributing factors.  He suggested I not run, so I haven't even set my feet to the pavement for over a week now.  It has been hard for me to follow the doctor's orders, but I have been seeing him for years and he really knows best when it comes to telling me to stop, take it easy, or go full steam ahead.  So, instead of running, I have been doing some walking.

I had already signed up for a local 5k race over the 4th of July weekend.  In addition to no running, he suggested I not speed walk, swim, or pretty much do anything that would use my legs.  Since I pre-registered, I decided to go, take my dog, and walk at a very slow casual pace.  The morning was great - overcast and cooler.  Perfect for a summer run!  To say I was jealous of the runners is an understatement.  It took everything in my body to keep me from running.  A lot of runners got PRs as the course is one of the flatter ones in the area. 

I started at the back of the crowd with Lucy.  We took off rather slow and took our time on the course.  I think it took about 18 minutes to walk the first mile.  The whole time I kept thinking about what I would be doing if I were able to run.  To keep my mind from wandering to running, I started trying to talk to the walkers around me.  I definitely had some interesting observations from the morning:
  • Most of the walkers were new to walking a 5k.  I passed several discussing the actual mileage of a 5k.  I reminded one couple it equals 3.1 mile.
  • Many of the walkers were shocked to hear it took them 18 minutes to walk the first mile.  I guess they thought the race was about half over, and then they realized they still had several miles to go.
  • Most of the walkers go from conversation to conversation.  No one seems to care if you join in a conversation as you are passing by.  I talked to several different people for just a few minutes as I passed them or they passed me.  This is different than runners.  During a race, runners don't talk to each other.  Instead, runners focus on their race at hand and think about things like pace, hydration, strategy for getting a PR, etc.  There isn't a lot of back and forth with those around you.
  • Lots of walkers bring their kids.  This is totally cool and I would do the same thing, but if your kid isn't happy and you are walking, 3.1 miles is a long time!  There was one little girl who screamed for 2.5 miles.  It was loud, she was unhappy, and there was nothing her mom could do but keep going until the end.  It was funny because everyone kept commenting on how she was STILL crying as they passed her after the turn-around point.  I never understood why some events included a 1-mile family fun walk.  I now completely understand the need for this event category.
  • Walkers do not really cheer for runners.  I was yelling for a few of my friends as I watched them pass me.  Some were doing really well and I wanted to show my support.  The walkers around me looked at me like I was crazy when I called out to the runners.  I don't think they really know how to encourage the racers.
I noticed a few other things along the way.  In general, the race was good and I am glad I went.  It was a nice way to enjoy the morning and see some good friends.  However, I am hopeful the next time will be to run a running race (in the words of Sam Clarke).


Andrea said...

Christan, thanks for writing about your experience walking a 5K! I have never walked one, so reading about the experience of what goes on in the "back of the pack" was really interesting! I hope your leg is feeling better and you are able to run again SOON!!!

Anonymous said...

Running in the running race! :) Gotta love that Sam Clarke.