This morning I participated in the 2010 Healthy Kids, Healthy Weight Run/Walk in University Circle. There were two events: The first was a 5K run/walk for adults and children and the second was a 1K that was geared towards families and young children. There was a pretty decent crowd there – somewhere between 500 and 600 people – and the scene was about as alive as you could expect for an early Sunday morning. The event seemed to go smoothly and I would guess most had a pretty decent time.
The event was at 8:30 am with check in starting at 7:00 am. You all know me and how I love mornings. And this was a Sunday morning! Needless to say it was difficult to get up and at ‘em but it was especially tough this morning after Taiji spent his night being completely disruptive. Natalie and I think that he believed that we were leaving on a trip because certain suitcases and bags were visible upstairs and became upset and wanted to spend time with us rather than let us sleep. Whatever the cause, he kept me up most of the night on a very inopportune spot and I wasn’t too pleased.
The second hurdle became finding an area to park. I was unfamiliar with where “Wade Oval” is, exactly, so I simply aimed for the lot in University Circle that I was most familiar with that I felt was close. This lot is opposite the Triangle Apartments, where Natalie and I lived several years ago and that turned out to be a substantial error. It turned out that my chosen lot was a little under a mile away from Wade Oval and I had to hoof it over there to check in. Since I borrowed an extra 15 minutes from the sleep gods this morning, I was running merely ‘on time’ rather than early and so I had to hoof it at a decent pace (kind of like a… oh-man-I-better-step-lively-to-make-it-to-class-on-time type of pace). Once I located the place where the action was and checked in, I found out that there were no lockers or places to store gear like wallets, keys, phones, event registration papers or similar (all things that I had with me) and so decided to hoof it back to the car (now mixing in a little jog with my speed walk pace) while keeping an eye open for better parking situations. Of course, as I headed back, I walked right past at least two parking areas right where the action was – D’OH! I made it back to the car, put my stuff away and drove over to the better parking areas. And, after 1.6 miles (just over half of a 5K distance, I might highlight), I was ready for a 5K!
As I left the car and walked past the main podium, a DJ had upbeat pop music pumping from some large speakers and a classically overzealous aerobics instructor (or similar) was on a microphone warming everyone up. I declined to participate in this because I was already plenty “warm” after my treks from and back to the car. Also, it was still only about 8:10 am and the sound of the instructor yelping through the speakers to get people to stretch and perform aerobic exercise was making me want to run back home and jump in bed. So I simply headed over to where the run was going to start from and I stretched out the legs.
Everyone gathered at the starting area at about 8:25 – a group of what ended up being noted at 234 participants for the 5K (the 1K runners/walkers started later). I put on the little strap they gave everyone that had a chip in it that would register your specific chips start and finish times and downed a bottle of water. As I downed the water I was surrounded by a pretty diverse bunch of folks. All age groups were represented for sure, and there were men, women, children as young probably 7 or 8 years old, black, white, hispanic, women with babies in jogging strollers, little old guys and ladied… literally, all sorts. The competitor in me picked out a few that thought looked like those I should try to keep up with, a few that I was sure I wanted to finish well ahead of and a few that I thought were likely to be difficult to keep up with. I didn’t care about the gents and ladies at the front of the pack who were going to finish this thing in 15 minutes or so – trust me. I knew I couldn’t run all 3 miles and I knew it would take me over 30 minutes to complete the whole thing at best. I was just trying to mark some of those who I had hoped would be similar. As it turns out, I overshot those hopes big time.
The moment we took off running I went right in behind those I was trying to keep up with. By about the quarter mile point I knew there was no way I could keep up with them and there was a gap between us of about 75 yards or so. I was watching little old ladies leave my butt in the dust. I then looked behind me to make sure I was still in front of those who I so arrogantly decided I would finish in front of for sure… and was somewhat pleased that they were still behind me. I picked out a new set of folks to keep up with and kept on going.
Now, to be brutally honest, I can’t remember the last time that I completed a mile run. On the treadmill downstairs (when I use it, which is embarrassingly rare these past couple of years) I typically do a half mile and then walk up an incline. So completing a mile was small goal of mine during this event, as well. About half of the folks that I wanted to keep up with had stopped jogging and the other half continued – a couple of whom started to distance themselves away. I kept jogging and was really hoping for some kind of marker for 1 mile. I was sure it was just up the street, but could never see it. Eventually, a family group near me blurted out through the same heavy breathing I was exhibiting that they were sure they had run 1 mile. In my pretty fair exhaustion I took that to heart and began walking, as did they. We continued walking and eventually (somewhere 250 and 300 yards, I’d say) had to turn right, down MLK drive. As we rounded the corner, sure enough, there was a young lady with a stop watch and a mile marker sign showing us all that we sold ourselves short in our quest to complete 1 mile.
Frustrated that I didn’t even complete the first mile, I started jogging again and trying to catch back up to the crew that distanced themselves from our pack a bit. This group was three who looked in decent shape but were taking it reasonable and steady. One of the three was a young lady (maybe right around college aged looking) who was pushing a jogging stroller with a youngster within. I caught back up to those three and then slowed down to match their pace as best I could. I hoped to stay right with them, but simply could not. I jogged about another half mile and again had to stop. Much to my mental displeasure, I was also passed by several of those I was so arrogant to assume I could easily beat – but there was simply nothing I could do about it. I clearly misjudged them. They were still jogging, while I felt like I was about out of gas. I grabbed a bit of water at the hydration point and kept hoofing it.
While walking, I was passed by a couple of those that were behind me that were in my initial pace target group and they became my new rabbits. For a bit of time, I jogged when they jogged and walked when they walked. I would gain on them when I jogged and would lose a bit of ground when we were walking. Jogging for any length of time was getting tough for me… maybe two tenths of a mile, and then walking again. Plus, all of a sudden we were in a hilly part of the course. I didn’t even think there were hills in University Circle except for in Little Italy. Those hills sapped my energy something fierce for a while. On the last ascent I grabbed a bit of water at the last station and heard them talking about only about a half mile to go. I thought to myself, “All right… I’ve been walking long enough. It’s a half mile: let’s GO!”
The last half mile was 2/3 uphill – the steepest uphill so far – followed by a flat push to the finish. As I jogged uphill I quickly left those that were left that I was trying to keep pace with and gave them a little shout of encouragement on the way by. As best I can tell, we all were jogging at one point and every one of us realized just how hard that hill was in a short period of time. I made a trade with myself … that if I had to walk any of this hill I would run that much faster at the end, even if it meant pain or sickness. I ended up having to walk up that hill for about 60 yards, so as soon as it flattened out I just took off running. I don’t think I’ve ever ran that slow in my life, but it was all I had left.
I ended up finishing in 40:33 (I think I remember on the board as I crossed the finish line)… almost 41 minutes – yikes! On Friday I had a thought that it might take me 45 minutes to finish in some sort of worst case scenario and I almost matched that. I was not expecting any hills – completely my naivety – and those really took a lot of energy out of me. I have no idea where I finished in terms of the entire group of folks but a lot of those I wanted to beat or keep up with took me to the cleaners. I did a good job of leaving everything I had on the course, today, but I just don’t have enough in me right now – I’m so stinking out of shape. This was exactly the base line that I was after. I wanted it put right in front of me – this is how ridiculous you are, right now, Ben. Well, I got it; loud and clear.
Overall, though, I had a good time and I am happy that I did this. I was pleased to see a good number of people at the event as I think the hospital does a lot of good for Cleveland and in their research. It was not very expensive and I ended up getting 3 water bottles, a t-shirt, lots of fruit to eat and bottled water to drink, and some info from some organizations around Cleveland. If I could replay the event I would also like to do so without having a 1.6 mile event before hand due to my poor parking decision. Asking a few more questions before I registered would have helped me out a lot, there.
I think the official times and results are to be posted in the coming days so I’ll get to see exactly where I finished up. I’m guessing it won’t be pretty, but… hey… it’s a start!