Saturday, April 20, 2013

Race Report: 5k Race to End Homelessness - Hollywood, Fl.

I signed up for this race back when I decided to go on a cruise. I figured since I was probably going to do a run that day before boarding anyway, why not do the run in a race along the beach?

Of course, at the time I didn’t realize I was going to sprain a ligament in my toe a few weeks before and have only run twice between March 16th and April 6th…but I was still in good spirits. After all, my plane got in after midnight – so I was running the race on 5 hours of sleep anyway. It wasn’t like I’d have been in prime running form in any event – so a toe injury at least gave me a good excuse as to my slowness.

I got up around 6:30 in the morning and ordered a cab. While I waited, I took a quick shower to wake up and I taped my two end toes together (got that advice from a doctor the day before, so I was hoping it was going to work).

I wasn’t sure exactly where I was going, so I wanted to get there early. Being 6:30, I had no trouble getting a ride. On the way out the door, I managed to snag a banana from the front desk (they had a basket of free fruit) and I ate a granola bar. Truth be told, I really could have used something more substantial!

I decided to run this race without my Garmin because I didn’t want to feel pressured into running faster than my foot could manage. I also forgot my iPod (I told people it was intentional, but in reality…I just forgot to bring it with me to the race).

Got to Charnow Park and found packet pick up. For such a small race, the atmosphere was very nice. Since they didn’t have a bag check, I managed to convince their registration folks to watch my bag (which only had a shirt and the freebies I was given in it…I kept my phone/money on me).

Had a really nice chat with an older gentleman running the race that lived nearby. That and a brief warm up (mostly dynamic stretching and a little jogging…I figured I didn’t want to hurt my toe before the start) and it was time to toe the line.

I lined up about fourth row back from the front, which seemed like a good choice given where the race director was suggesting people stand.

I started pretty well, although was quickly caught up by my foot which was definitely bothering me most of the way. I felt like every step took forever. The foot wasn’t painful though – just sore. Which meant the taping was holding up pretty well. I figured I was just a bit low on endurance after a few weeks not running, plus it was quite humid, which always slows me down.

The race ran right down a road alongside the beach for a good mile – which was lovely. It wasn’t a closed course, so I had to dodge around pedestrians a fair bit – but that wasn’t a big deal.

Made it to the 1 mile mark around 7:45 (they had timing signs), which I figured was pretty good for going slowly. I slowed down a fair bit coming into the turnaround, and then the return trip seemed like it was a long way. I could see the finish line, but it felt like it kept moving backwards! Funny how that works.

I saw 24 min on the clock from a ways away and tried to speed up for the finish (although I didn’t speed up much, I am sad to say, my foot was worn out). Final time was 24:26.

Overall, I felt pretty good with my result, especially given I hadn’t really run much (i.e. twice) since my tri camp a month ago. I also was trying to pace myself conservatively (hence not having my watch on).

So you can probably see why I was a bit tickled pink when I won 2nd place in my Age Group. I even got a shiny medal to take home! My first ever running award – for my first timed 5k (my December one where I finished in 23:16 was unofficial).

Guess that’s a big benefit of running in a small race!

Mind you, my excitement was a bit short lived. The first announcement they made following the race was to say that a man in his 50s had been rushed to the hospital with a heart attack and had passed away.

It was heartbreaking. The day was so perfect, that I couldn’t imagine it having such an unexpected awful end for someone and for his family.

Aside: I am writing this post-Boston. It’s hard to reflect on a man’s heart attack during a race, remembering what happened at the Boston Marathon – on what was, or so I’ve heard, another perfect day –a day that was supposed to be one of celebration for so many runners, and yet turned into such a tragedy.

But on that day in Florida, that man’s death struck me hard. I didn’t know him. I didn’t see him fall. But I felt immensely sad about what happened. And when for the first time in my life I won a 50/50 draw, I didn’t feel like I could take the proceeds given the circumstances. So I asked the race organizers to donate the money (about $250) to the man’s family. I figured they could either use the money if it was need it, or donate it themselves in the gentleman’s memory. At the very least, I hoped his family would know that people, even strangers, cared about their loss.

After the race, I walked about a mile to find a hotel where I could get a cab…and then had to wait almost 45 min for the cab to pick me up. Turned out there was a taxi strike…so my ability to get a cab in the early morning hours was quite misleading. But I eventually got a driver and made it back to my hotel. I didn’t mind the wait. In truth, I think I needed the time to reflect.

The lesson I learned that day is one that carried me through the horrifying news about Boston:

Life is a gift. Don’t waste even a day of it.

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