Super 5K

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!


14 thoughts on “Super 5K

  1. Keep the award! Let that award mean whatever you want it to mean! You have taken control of your health and are reclaiming your life AND are not afraid to get out there and go public with your journey. You do deserve an award. Before you made the decision to get healthy you made a choice. And you chose to do something instead of nothing, which always the more frightening and difficult path, and by running a 10k or any other public race you are inspiring everyone else out there who has the very same choice to make. KEEP THE AWARD!!! If it makes you feel better, write a carefully worded letter to the race director and let him know that you are feeling empowered and you are not struggling and what the award will mean to you. By offering you that award, he was appreciating your efforts (don’t down play how much blood sweat and tears got to that 10k!!) was encouraging you. If his words were less than perfect, give him the right words so that he can use them the next time he wants to encourage someone who is overcoming a weight issue, or a health problem or any other kind of disability. Congrats on the 10k. You really are an inspiration.

  2. My vote is to keep it! In the end, all that really matters is what that award means to you.
    Once, when I very first started running, a triathlete friend of mine said something very similar to me. This is a man that completes Ironmans in under 9 hours, so when I said just a marathon takes me almost five hours, he said “well I know people out there longer than me suffer a lot more” I didn’t know how to take it at first. But, the more I thought about it the more I realized his comment was more about respect, it was actually a compliment. He’s saying that somehow, even us slower people (in any distance) are stronger than the faster people, it’s just that our strength–whether it be right now or forever– is mental. People really do have the best of intentions, and I’ve found this especially true in the running community.

    If you want to talk with him about it, or anyone else for that matter, I think you should. Sometimes people just don’t have the perspective they need to choose the right words.

    Congrats on your race! Wear all your awards proudly, and wear them for you!

  3. I vote that you keep that award. I identify with you having a chip on your shoulder about this stuff. But do you know what happened when I read about him giving you that award? I teared up. I remembered the many times I’ve been out running and some middle-aged guy or old lady or young woman has offered encouragement in the form of a wave or a “great job,” “good for you,” or “keep it up!” Do they see a fat woman running? Probably. But guess what. I AM a fat woman running. And instead of doing what MANY people do (look away, ignore, pretend you don’t exist), these folks have offered sincere encouragement.

    I don’t think it matters that you weren’t struggling during the run. I think you’re focusing on the one thing he said that could be taken the wrong way, instead of the many things he said that were lovely. And I am not typing this in judgment of you, please know that – because I have SO been there. But my advice is to focus on all the good he said, AND go back next year and win the award, too.

    Whew! Sorry if that turned into a rant, and hope my heart is coming through here and making sense. And, GREAT JOB running the 5K!!

  4. Kim, you may not have been struggling, but his point I think was meant with good intent. Not many people who are almost 300 pounds are doing what you did. I think what he meant was just that – congrats for taking the steps it takes to change your life! Many do not have what it takes. You, my friend, do.

    • HAHAH Steve, I thought about this before I wrote it…I am not sure I really want a Hooters guy wearing a short skirt and tight shirt either…but my point was made i think…where are the good looin gmen handing out hotdogs to us ladies?!?!?!

  5. Tough one.
    I voted maybe. I can see both sides of this issue. His statement to you was kinda like a Simon Cowell comment. Backhanded compliments sometimes hurt worse than blatant insults. I know for me, I am super sensitive and tend to take things way too personally. This is something I’m working on – his statement would have offended me greatly so I completely understand why you’d want to give it back. I don’t want to ‘win’ something that I didn’t earn rightfully and I damn sure don’t want a token of someone else feeling sorry for me. It’s a tough call on what to do because if you talk to him, could you do it in a way that wouldn’t hurt HIS feelings? I’m sure his intentions are good, but if he’s never been in your shoes then, he has no idea how stinging those words were.

    Great job on finishing with such determination and pride!

  6. You’ve heard me say this before, lovey. There’s no insult like the truth.

    His delivery could use some polishing. But the spirit in which it was delivered was spot on. You earned that award. Perhaps not for the reasons other runners earned theirs, but nonetheless you earned it. And I think its fabulous that he rewarded you, because you had the courage to run it!

  7. hmmmm….several of you mentioned letting the award mean to me whatever it means regardless of the fact that it is an age group award intended for the top 5 in each age group. To me, it has felt more like a pity award, a consolation prize. Guess I am gonna have to re-frame how I am thinking about that in my wonky head.

    Still want to have a conversation…perhaps he can become a running coach for me!??!?!

  8. I say keep it. You earned it, after all! Like someone above said, he could use a little work on his delivery, and it sure seemed to be well intentioned.

    A well phrased conversation would probably help you feel better about the whole thing, so I’d definitely think about doing that.

    Have a great weekend!

  9. Here’s my take: I don’t believe you were given that award out of pity. I believe you were given that award as a recognition of how encouraging and positive you are. It’s about finishing the race when some (many?) would quit. To keep going even when you know they’ll be tearing down when you reach the finish line. To not be ashamed of being slower than the other runners, but to give it all you have and to finish. To “run in such a way as to get the prize”.

    Keep it!

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