This past Saturday I finished my last 5K for the year — my fourth one in as many months. Even though I’m nowhere close to actually running in one of these events, it still feels satisfying to go pick up a packet, get a T-shirt (even if I don’t fit in some of them just yet), pin a bib number to my shirt and hoof it 3.1 miles. I still smile crossing the finish line not just out of gratefulness that it’s over — although that is definitely a strong emotion at that time — but out of my own accomplishment. I like pushing myself to that end.
In early 2011 I participated in a Biggest Loser contest at my gym, and one of the ways we scored more points was to participate in a local 5K to benefit a SIDS non-profit. From January to March, I hit the treadmill at least five days a week for about forty to forty-five minutes at a time, and I finished that 5K in just under 56 minutes. I still maintain that that was the hardest 5K I’ve ever done — one hill after another, something laid out by a seriously sadistic sonofabitch. My motto for the day was, “What goes up, must come down.”
Then I got even more ambitious and decided to walk in the Cooper River Bridge Run — a 10K (or 6.2 miles). My cousin who lives in Charleston had already signed up, so I crashed with her and we got up at dark-thirty on the last Saturday in March and headed over to Mt. Pleasant with more than 40,000 other crazy people. The hardest part of the event is going from mile two to mile three — a one-mile ascent up the Cooper River Bridge.
The weather was cool and crisp with a brilliant blue sky set off by the angular beams reaching up from the bridge, but I didn’t want to pause for pictures until we reached the top of thebridge — for fear that I wouldn’t get going again. After mile five, we started down King Street, passing those lucky runners who had already finished and started hitting up all the restaurants with their fabulous smells.
It was at that point — perhaps some sort of fatigue stupor — where I realized how simple it all was. Just one foot in front of the other. Like a robot following commands, I was telling myself to keep going.
This year’s attempt proved far more difficult. I had significantly slacked off of my walking routine — as in, like, not at all. But I’d still registered and my cousin was still walking, so I thought, “I’m still going to go. Besides, the hardest part will be going up the bridge, so once I’m halfway, I’ll be fine.”
I wasn’t. I had to stop several times on the way up the bridge. Then… THEN! When we were almost over the bridge, some participants who had finished and were coming back across the bridge (pfffft… show-offs) passed us, and one of them scoffed and said, “There are still people on the bridge?”
The only thing that kept me from turning around and cutting a bitch was the fact that I felt too exhausted to retrace my steps. Otherwise? Bitch would have gone down.
As we made our way down King Street, photographers eager to snap pics and charge ridiculous amounts of money (seriously, $15 for a 4×6) lined a scaffold over the road and took random shots as we passed by. The first year at the finish line I threw the goat and grinned. This year? I glared at the camera. I looked like a member of The Walking Dead.
I finished, but it was ugly — in that panting, limping, sweating, snarling at the cheering spectators kind of way.
So these 5Ks that I’ve done (with more planned after the first of the year) are part of the plan to keep me training and improving my speed and endurance so that I can finish the CRBR in under two hours — and remain spry enough to toss any bitch daring to snark on my progress into the Cooper River.