As you all know, I rewarded myself with a 5K run registration. While it WAS a reward, it was also a swift kick in the pants. I have struggled with motivation to run since I have recovered from what turned out to be a 3 week sickness. Signing up and PAYING to run, if it worked, was going to re-energize me. In theory, it would remind me that I DO enjoy running. It would be a kickstart back into my training plan for the half marathon I have coming up.
It didn’t work.(more on that late!)
But it was a great race!
This was my first solo race. My first race that I have done without either a co-runner or a “fan” on the sidelines cheering me on. (although Linda from the running store was supposed to be there, but I couldn’t find her) It was also the closest race I have done to my home and the latest starting. I got to wake up at 7:30 and leave my house at 8 to drive 20 minutes, check in and start at 9 AM.
The race had just over 1500 participants. The course circled this shopping center first (about a half mile) then headed out down a straight although HILLY stretch and back again. Not my favorite kind of course. As if I have done soooo many races to have a favorite, but I really don’t like straight routes, also called “out and backs”, when I run. Probably why I like the trails so much!
Anyway, in true Kim form, I quickly found myself at the back of the pack. I was ok with this. I don’t mind being last. It isn’t about that for me at all, at least not at this point. However, I was somewhat shocked to find the leaders coming back in already before I had even gotten out on the straight away! Seriously?
“Come on! Do you really have to run that fast?” ( I actually said these things out loud as they raced past me and into the finish line!)
As I continued to run and I realized that what was supposed to be a “mostly flat” course, was NOT, I found myself with many fans. The race started out feeling a little lonely, but as I ran, so many of those “leaders” (aka everybody) came across the center line in the road to high five me or shouted encouragement. I remember wishing I had more oxygen available to respond adequately but all I could do was raise my hand in acknowledgment.
I headed down my first hill and started to dread the looming uphill. But then I started thinking about this journey of mine. I once couldn’t run for 30 seconds, and now I can and have run a 10K. Progess.
As I found myself a little less lonely as these people shouted encouragement, I realized that just as I can now run, when I once couldn’t, I will not always be at the back of the pack . One day, I will be crossing the finish line ahead of someone else and well before they start tearing things down. I can’t wait for that day when I can do that because likely then I will have more oxygen available. Then, I will be one of those shouting encouragement to someone like me.
With that I was at the top of the hill, and it wasn’t hard at all. The rest of the run went in a similar fashion.
At the end, there were some lovely ladies who asked me to put my foot up on a stool so they could clip off my timing chip. Really? My legs are jello and you want me to BALANCE on only one of them? I managed.
Then they handed me my Finisher prize, a Pint glass.
I headed inside where they had Hooters girls handing out hot dogs and chips. My only question was…where are the Hooters Men?
As I was leaving, the race director came up to me with one of the age group awards in his hand. These were giant beer mugs given to the top five in each age group. He said all sorts of nice things, but this is what I remember.
“Hey I saw you out there running and I was cheering for you. I saw you struggling and I want you to have this award.”
I tried to object saying there was NO WAY I came close to earning that award. I reminded him that I was last (except one walker who was about 70 yrs old).
He agreed that all I said was true, however, “it takes YOU far more effort to get out here and do something like this than it does anybody who placed in the top 5. I want you to have it, as encouragement to keep running and to come back next year. I want you back!”
I accepted the award, thanked him for his kind words, told him I would be back and headed to church.
Later, I realized, I think I want to give it back. I heard his encouragement and appreciated his sentiments. He is right in that it DOES take a lot to get out there at almost 300 lbs and run with a bunch of people who LOOK like athletes. I have all sorts of internal conversations about that. It also may be more difficult physically for someone my size to get out there and run as opposed to others, but this is not always the case. There are plenty of people who appear fit, that can’t run what I can run, even at my slow pace.
What I am stuck on is the assumption he made that I was struggling. I know I have a chip on my shoulder about assumptions people make about me because of my size. Not once during this race was I struggling. I am slow, I breathe heavy when I run, I can’t talk much. But not once did I feel like I had to walk, even on the uphill. Not once did I feel like I needed a break. I felt strong the whole time.
I feel like I want to have a conversation with Mr. Race Director about assumptions and how all of his encouraging words were diminished by his single assumption and how he can better encourage those like me to keep running. I think I want to give the award back with the promise that I will be back to win one legitimately in the coming years. At the same time, I don’t want to be offensive. Like I said, I heard his heart in what he was saying. Is this just the chip on my shoulder getting in the way? Take my poll, let me know what you think! You better! It took me hours to figure this polldaddy thing out!