Sunday, March 08, 2009

Some thoughts on the 2009 Anthem 5K

I've been doing this for several years now, and it's just dawned on me that I have no idea why. Initially, I started walking the Triple Crown races as a fitness thing, but I don't think that's really the reason any more. I never seriously train.* I only participate in these races, plus the Derby Festival Mini-Marathon, never any of the others that go on throughout the year. My times never improve. I'm still just barely dragging my ass across the finish at the longer races. And I'm still fat. So fitness as a motivator is just right out.

The races do raise money for a worthy local charity, which is nice. But surely it's a lot easier just to write a check than to shell out 35 bucks, get up at the crack of dawn, wander aimlessly through the streets of Louisville, sweat profusely, and spend the next day nursing aches and blisters? Surely.

So, for the moment, I'm leaning towards a combination of Spring fever, temporary insanity, and possession by evil spirits to explain my behavior, but while I ponder this mystery some more, here are some thoughts on this year's Anthem 5K, the first leg of the Triple Crown of Running.

The race started 30 minutes earlier this year, and I was almost late. I got there with no time to stretch or warm up, which explains today's extremely achey calf muscles.

I rode the back up bike downtown to the starting line. It's not that far from our house, and the combination of closed streets for the race, plus limited parking downtown, makes the bike a good choice. My bike has a flat, hence the back up bike, which, I discovered en route, has no rear brakes.

The race had a new route this year, which was both good and bad. I loved walking through one of the older neighborhoods down by the river, but one of the things that keeps me moving for the last half of any of the races is knowing what's coming up. When I'm getting tired and running out of steam, knowing where the mile markers are and which streets we'll be taking helps motivate me. I can only make it through the last three miles of the mini by counting off the streets in my head.

There was a woman at the starting line waving what looked like a plastic version of Thor's hammer. I'm still pondering that one.

One of the discouraging things about being a walker in the 5K race is the realization that by the time you reach the first mile marker, the fastest runners are crossing the line.

I had on of my worst times this year: 51 minutes. Usually, I'm at least 5-6 minutes faster than that.

But I did cross the finish line in time to get a couple of Cinnamon Crunch bagels from the Panera booth. Sometimes they run out of them before the walkers show up.

The walkers were sequestered up an alley this year, in order to allow all the runners to start before we did. Thanks to this arrangement, it was eight minutes after the start of the race before I crossed the starting line. and despite this arrangement, there were still runners trying to bulldoze their way through the walkers. (And complaining because we were in front of them.)**

It's beyond me why the rules say no strollers allowed, but the race marshalls never say anything to the folks who bring them. Last year, I was almost run down by a woman running with her racing stroller in front of her.

It was a gorgeous day for the race. Sunny and warm, it felt like the long winter has ended at last.

When I crossed the finish line, the DJ was playing (and I'm not making this up) "It's Raining Men!" Fitting.

I certainly enjoyed participating again this year. I just wish I knew why I did it.

Next race: Rodes City Run (10 K) in a couple of weeks.

*Well, I did join a training group last year, to somewhat less than satisfactory results.

**I get tired of the complaints about walkers I hear. I pay the same fee as those guys do to be there. I try to start as far back in the crowd as I can. But there's always somebody back there trying to push through. I'm not sure what else one can do.

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