Dacula Memorial Day 5K Race

May 28, 2008

10 weeks ago I started running. Well, not really running, I guess. I started walking and it progressed to running. I don’t have a great deal of patience, so walking always progresses to running for me at some point. Anyway, ten weeks later I found myself in a crowd in the middle of Dacula Road at 8:30 AM on Monday morning.

If you know me, you probably know that I am portly or rotund (insert your own nice word for big belly). I don’t have the classic runner’s physique, shall we say. Yet there I was with several hundred of my friends and neighbors. It was a lot more exciting than I would have imagined. The starter made some announcements and then cried, “Runners – take your marks! Go!”

And they went. Me, not so much. My goal was to run the entire 5000 meter (just over 3 mile) course without stopping, walking, crying or bleeding. I was not in a hurry.

I jogged leisurely down Dacula Road, turned onto Wilson, enjoying the downhill start. As I made the next turn I saw a huge crowd of people running through Dacula’s old town district. I was not even remotely close to that part of the course and we had only just started. Good thing I was only competing with myself!

I trudged along, feeling like I could pick up the pace but knowing that the second mile of the course was uphill. I started to break a pretty good sweat at the bottom of the hill and soon thereafter some kind folks were handing out icewater. I managed a swallow and got my cup into a trash can without breaking stride.

The next hill was the best part of the course. It was steeper and ran right next to the cemetery at Hebron Baptist Church, a perfect sobering reminder that we were running on Memorial Day. I enjoyed the time for reflection, but I won’t lie to you, I was pleased when the hill flattened out and I knew the rest of the course was fairly flat.

As I passed the starting point I was talking with a fellow racer and I realized that I must still have a lot of energy to be able to carry on a conversation while running mile three. I guess that was my proudest moment.

As I started to turn towards the finish line and the long downhill, I broke into my version of a sprint and managed to carry it through the line, finishing in 34:09.3. I achieved my goals, no walking, no blood, no tears, but quite a bit of sweat.

I never thought I would enjoy running, but I am beginning to.

Competitively, I am in trouble. My 34:09 time doesn’t stack up so well against the other runners. In my age group, 40-44 year old men, I was 32nd out of 34 runners. 2 10 year old girls finished ahead of me and 2 women in their 7th decade did as well. The overall winner could have run twice before I was done. He cruised around in 15:58.7.

At least I didn’t cry.

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