So last Saturday, I ran my first 5k for a fundraiser at work.
I must give thanks and praise to a local running store, Geaux Run, here in Lafayette, Lousiana. Shout out to Nora and staff! They have personalized attention along with running-specific knowledge you simply don’t get from big-chain sporting good places. Thanks to them, I was able to find out about an excellent running coach who facilitates a local running group and gives free advice from his years of elite running and coaching other elite runners. You can find their weekly newsletter (along with information concerning their accessories, apparel, hydration, nutrition, and shoes) on their webpage at www.geauxrun.com
The group I run with under Mr. Tom Hopkins currently offers “Torture Tuesday” out at Moncus Park also known as the Horse Farm. There is a big bush-hogged pasture there such that the grass is not lawn mower clipped but also not knee-high weeds. At least, not usually. The first day I did this, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was way in over my head. I was pleased that I did not puke and that I halfway kept up with the group and did not walk too often.
“Dahniel, you’re an ahnimal,” said Mr. Hopkins in his awesome Irish brogue when I was done. I thought he might be exaggerating possibly, but I have kept coming back whenever I can!
Thursday runs so far have been on the street around Bendel Gardens or on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette track with speedwork, intervals, and strides (There are short sprints done as fast as possible. You catch your breath. You do it again.) There is also a long run that starts at the parking lot of Red’s Health Club and goes on a 10 mile loop. I have gone to this on the weekends when I haven’t had my sons and run it in an abbreviated form. It is beautiful looking out and over the bridge on Camelia Boulevard and seeing the sun come up over the water, so much so that I once went home and wrote the following:
Dawn at Camelia.
Over the shoulder,
dance through sky
and across water.
Pink, purple, turquoise.
This too is erased.
The evening before the event, I did a two-mile loop around the Horse Farm in the grass with about five strides worked in there from beginning to end. I ate lightly, drank a 32 ounce Dickie’s Big Yellow Cup (BYC) mickied with Nuun Active Hydration tablets. I thought about all the people who were pulling for me and wanted to see me do well and the people for whom I cared as I drank from my plastic goblet, such as it was.
I also thought about all the negative people in my life: trifling, alledging, nosing, hating. Not today, Satan. Not tomorrow either. I was going to show my ass, what there is of it, come what may. And I was going to run until I could not. Period. No loophole of retreat. No out. No shit. I went to bed and slept well, resolute and satisfied inside myself.
The next morning, I got my garb and bib off the chest of drawers having heard to make sure to put your stuff out the night before for your nerves. I brushed my teeth and shave with my safety razor and doused myself with Clubman Bay Rum after-shave so as to have the same morning bathroom ritual as always. I chanted and prayed for my success and that I might savor an ultimate victory as I embarked on the new venture.
I drank another half-full BYC, ate a banana, slammed the same cup of coffee as always out of the same Dollar General mug that says “Faith” and reminds me of a loved one. With this comfort rising from routine, I headed to the event.
I was surprised at how many people were already there. I safety pinned my bib onto my shirt. Do I leave my glasses in the car or not? If I do, they’ll slide and I’ll be pushing them up every few steps. Distraction. If I don’t, I might not be able to see as well. Distraction. Stop thinking, dammit. Decide. Act. You got this.
I went off to the side near the trunk of an ancient oak and stretched. Then I did 10 strides to get warmed up and to get my heartrate and sweat and muscles all firing.
I got up toward the front of the middle. It was wet. The road was slick as owl shit. It still felt doable because I was sporting my red, white, and blue Norton Fate II shoes which seemed to help me grip the road.
I told myself that I would go “yellow” the first mile, “red” afterward, and “fire” for the last .10 or whenever I saw the finish marker. The route itself, however, involved my passing what seemed to be a lot of people at the beginning, settling down into a pace where I could say a couple or three words at a time, and then maintaining that at the end according to my Milestone Pod which is an indispensable tool that came free with the aforementioned Newton shoes. It starts when you start and ends when you end, measuring cadence (I hit 180 steps per minute), stride length, pace per a mile.
I had mentioned earlier that I was going to “run until I could not.” When I hit that finish marker heaving with sweat flinging, I tried to walk a little for a makeshift cool-down. Instead, I weevil-wobbled off the street. My burning guts shook. I spat stringy dry-heave spit on the grass. I wove through the people so as to vomit in the commode like a civilized person away from potentially jeering students and colleagues. The air conditioning in Cafe 329 cooled me off, however; I did not lurch; and I went back outside. I purposefully avoided the temptation to crowd around the creosote pole where the results were being posted. Patience is something I want to work toward.
I am pleased with how I did for my first run. People told me I was gonna kill it. I still don’t think that I did, but I think I did respectably for my first 5k. Statistics are part of the slideshow if you are interested.
I watched the awards and scholarships being given and went home where I took a bath that was way too hot and a one-hour power nap. When I woke, I wanted to run some more but had to stop myself. The soreness came and went over the rest of Saturday and then Sunday.
Next time, I plan to force myself to slow down the first mile or so as to drop the hammer toward the end. I currently plan to run in the Jungle Gardens 5k in Avery Island near the Tobasco plant past bamboo and a huge, golden statue of the Buddha Shakyamuni. This race will be a trail run with gravel and a couple of hills. In order to prepare for this event, a month away from now, I will go run up and down the hill at Thomas Park on the days I don’t have group runs. Not too hard, but 5-10 times on those days to supplement.
I came very close to placing my first race. There will be medals, trophies, glory. There will be sweat and soreness, setbacks, disappointment.
I will seek and strive to avoid being swept away by pleasure and fleeting victory and pain and fleeting defeat. Instead, I will seek to cultivate consistency from beginning to end. To finish the race, every race both literal and metaphorical, the best way I possibly can.