23 March 2009

UNC 5K Kidney Kare Run/Walk, March 21

So, maybe the treadmill at the gym is working after all...

For the third year (at least), I signed up and participated in the UNC 5K Kidney Kare Run/Walk, held this year over in Carrboro on March 21. And, no, let us not be confused: I did the walk, and not the run. (Never have quite gotten the appeal of running, really, as I've known some runners with hellishly painful joints, especially knees.)

In the past two years, I have taken two different approaches to this Walk, both with mixed results:

In the first year, I strolled and strolled, enjoying the budding trees and even rescued a fallen birds' nest from one of the residential streets the Walk route goes down. It was a bit of a 'zen' thing then, getting in touch with the world around me and also not overdoing it because I really wasn't into it for any 'exercise' potential. I finished right at the end, but I felt like I had toured Walden Pond.

Last year, at the beginning of my 'serious' attempts to lose weight (40+ pounds ago), I took to it with the enthusiasm of a new recruit off on her first march in the Army. No time for the trees, the birds, not even a thank you wave to the volunteers passing out water at the halfway point. Nope, I am serious this year became the mantra going through my head. In the end, about a mile to go from the finish line, my energy bottomed out and I dragged myself across the line (well, not literally, but to my psyche, I might as well have). On the other side waiting...a superior level colleague and a group of his friends, none of whom had even broken a sweat, kidding me about being so out of shape that had it been a kilometer longer I would have required oxygen.

I love you, too, Sir. Really, I do.

For me, this might as well have been the victory trophy for this year's race. Yes, it's a keeper for the 'motivation' files.

This year, I had done some preparation. In addition to joining the gym as a way to finally do something about my weight and overall appearance for the long haul, I had a goal in mind: a 15 minute walking mile. As I would quickly discover, that was a bit much to hope for (especially for someone who has been pretty lifelong adverse to exercise in the first place), but I was doing a 17:08 mile on the treadmill, even with mild inclines. I'm still a long work in progress, but at least I'm progressing now.

This year, I was there early. This year, I had water. This year, I had stretched and prepped and could even pass a lot of folks while making my way to...the middle of the pack. All told: 5K walk in 53:54. Horrible, I know, but it's a start and I will improve upon it. Horrible, I know, as I didn't keep the 17:08/mile pace (the race inclines were more than I had prepped for so I slowed down in those sections). Wonderful, though, because I beat same said superior level colleague (and all other members of his group) this year by a full 10:04. The look on their faces as I was waiting for them this year at the finish line was absolutely priceless.

Don't let anybody tell you anything different: Life is good.

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