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As fast as a speeding bullet

Run A 5k Race

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I don’t care what proof or semi-scientific fact big tobacco uses to try and convince the population that smoking is not bad for you. It is not the activity of choice to partake in prior to running any distance.

I quit smoking for the first time about 2 years ago. I stayed off of cigarettes for about a year and a half. Foolishly, after a few nights of drinking way too much, I picked up the habit against the loud protest of Kit.

Right after I quit smoking, I joined the New York Sports Club, in an attempt to shed some extra pounds that I put on after I discovered the sweet wonderful taste of beer. I was never a very good runner, I’m just not built for that kind of activity. I am more of a sprinter, in an absolute need to run the fuck away kind of situation. Nonetheless, I knew that in order for me to lose the weight I needed to hit the treadmill and hit it hard.

I figured Marines sing while they run, and if it works for them, it was good enough for me. I downloaded all the cadences I could find on itunes, and I cranked the treadmill to 6 mph and jacked the incline to 2%, and I took off. Then almost immediately dropped back down to 4.5 mph with no incline, thats more my speed. With the Marines at Camp Lejeune screaming in my ears, I eventually got my speed up to 6 mph again. Then 6.5 after a couple weeks of this routine, I was able to sprint at 7 mph.

Then I stopped going to the gym all together, I don’t know what made me stop but I just did. I got bored of it, or whatever. So, I became sedentary again and eventually started smoking once more. I was going head first right back into the direction I was trying to run away from (pun intended).

In order to motivate myself into getting back into the gym and to quit smoking, I added Run a 5K race to the list. From the beginning I had planned to run the Oysterfest 5K race since it was right in town and I would be taking the weekend off of work anyway.

The date was set, October the 17th at 0900 hours. My goal was set; just complete the race. I didn’t put any time goals on myself for this first race, I figured if I could complete it within any reasonable amount of time that alone would be enough to motivate me into doing better in another race down the line.

The day after registering I had 2 and a half weeks to get myself back in shape. I finished my last smoke at work and when I got home that day I jogged to the firehouse and jumped on the treadmill. I was back at square with the Marines, but I had motivation and a goal, a deadly combination. Out of pure desperation and a tad of adrenaline I was able to get 2 miles out of myself before my lungs almost exploded. I told myself that I would do 2 and a half miles tomorrow and by the end of the week be in the neighborhood of 3 miles. Lean and mean too!

The first three days went like planned and I felt great. Kit by this time had also started her training regiment but for whatever reason had yet to register for the race. I think it was a self fulling prophesy. Her fourth day into training she had sprained her knee walking down the block. She had even bought brand spanking new sneakers for the race. Poor thing, now she can’t join me in waking up well over 4 hours before my normal wake-up call and run around on a cold October morning. Her loss. I was kind of hoping I would sprain my knee too, she looked so comfortable laying on the couch with a heating pad watching the best TV had to offer.

I pressed on and by pressed on I mean I didn’t go to the gym or run outside for the next 2 weeks. I also started smoking again. Some would say, I am my own worst enemy. I don’t know what drives me to get into my own way, maybe I feel like I need the extra hurdles, maybe I have a self-destructive personality. Or I could just be lazy. Anyway that for a trained mental health professional to figure out.

2 days before the race I applied the Nicotine patch Kit had bought for me. I had to at least attempt to quit smoking if was going to complete this task. I know that there are plenty of people who could run an exorbitant amount of miles with a cigarette in their mouth, but I knew adrenaline was not going to be enough for me. If I didn’t quit I would have been huffing and puffing by the 1 mile marker.

The night before the race, I googled things to do before running a 5K, while kit looked on and laughed. Most of the advice went along the lines of… Toughen up, it’s only 3 miles. So, I got over the idea that I would find the magical advice on google that would make this race a piece of cake, I wasn’t prepared for it and my gut knew it. I stayed away from buffalo wings and beer that night, I didn’t need 12 buffalo wings and a greasy burger sloshing around in my stomach while I tried to run around Oyster bay. That much I knew.

Race day, I hopped out of bed around 0730, made myself some cuban coffee and a few pieces of rye toast for breakfast, along with a peanut butter power bar. Breakfast of Champions Runner-ups. Kit and I met up with my running mates Jon and Caroline. Who are also our drinking buddies and traveling companions to boot.

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Jon and I exchanged nervous glances at each other, or at least my glance was of nervousness and his was more of hatred for talking him into doing this with me. Caroline on the other hand was all smiles, she unlike Jon and myself had been training consistently for a few months, at least thats what she tells us. Her physique alone suggest that she would be able to run 20 miles without so much as breaking a sweat.

Kit kissed me luck and we walked off to the starting line, or starting gathering area, it was like we were being herded like sheep.

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4 Minutes to go.

My earphones popped in, all I could hear were the motivational sounds of the Marines. I looked over at the multitude of all the other runners, I saw the old, the young and mothers with strollers. Jon wishing he was back in bed or sitting at a Cracker barrel racing for the last buttermilk biscuit.

3 Minutes to go.

Do I really want to do this? 3 Miles is far…

2 Minutes to go.

Hell YEAH! I want this! I’m a Marine! We don’t give up!

1 Minute to go

Wait, I’m not a Marine. I in no way have enough discipline to last in boot camp. And besides I’m more of a pacifist, and don’t enjoy fighting or… Oh shit we started.

I was off. I found my pace that I was comfortable with and got into step with the young Marine recruits. I looked over to my right to wish Jon and Caroline luck but neither of them were there. I turned back and saw that they had found their own pace. I was in the groove, I made the decision there that I would soldier on without them. I figured they would catch up to me anyway when I had passed out around the 2 mile mark.

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Looking forward I saw the majority of runners had found a much faster pace, the mother with the stroller had gotten further and further away. She must have been running like an 8 minute mile, I didn’t even think stroller wheels were rated that fast. What a show off.

I hit the half mile mark and the lack of preparation really showed. Doubt came rearing its ugly head. “You really think your going to finish this? Look you already tired, give up and walk the rest of it. Look at that guy! He is like 98 years old, he is passing you!” Said the voice in my head. ” I just have to make it to the mile marker and then I can rest a bit.” I reassured myself. “Just a few more blocks. Find the girl with the nicest butt and just follow her.  (Sorry Kit)  I can see the mile marker, Time check, 10 minutes almost on the dot. Awesome!” I pulled over to the side of the road and slowed my pace down to catch my breath. “Ok, now time to pump it up!” I knew the next half mile was going to be a bitch since it was a slow gradual incline. I wanted to get through it as quickly as possible.

I made it to the top of the hill and there like an oasis were volunteers handing out water. I did my best impression of an olympic runner and grabbed a cup. “H2O the sweet nectar of life.” I swallowed it all in a gulp tossed the cup and like Popeye after eating his spinach, I felt pumped. I knew the 2 mile marker was just around the bend, I shuffled my Ipod and blasted some System of a down for the extra motivation. at 23 minutes I had passed the marker, that hill had slowed me down a lot.

My initial plan before starting the race had been to sprint as much of the last mile as possible. Thats what I did. I kept pressing next on my shuffle until I had found the perfect pump me up song. ” Shipping up to Boston” I picked up the pace until I was in a full on gazelle like sprint. Passing everyone who stood in front of me. “dammit! this song is only like 2 minutes long!” I frantically shuffled till I found the next song that will do. ” Last Resort”

I was in the home stretch now, We turned the final corner and all that was left was a straight shot to the finish line, and a bed. I galloped as hard as I could, resisting all of my natural instincts to barf right on the street. Then I saw it… The finish line. And Kit patiently waiting for me with the camera.

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Time: 32:40. Woo hoo! 7 minutes faster than Kit had predicted. I was jubilant. And nauseous. More nauseous than jubilant. Jon and Caroline finished a few minutes behind me, less nauseated then I. The winner of the race finished in 14 minutes. My time had left me with a standing of 498th place. But 19th in the Clydesdale division. Which is a nice way of saying fat boy division.

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This was definitely one of the more rewarding accomplishments on the list. It was something I had to put in the extra effort into completing it. If I ever do one again, my ass is going into the gym as if I was training for a heavy weight title bout. Just to think that 10 months before running the race I was close to 40 lbs heavier and ran out of breath every time I brushed my teeth, this was a huge task. And without Kit poking at my belly every night after work, I would have never have been able to complete it. Thanks Kit for being subtle when you were telling me I was fat.

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October 27, 2009   5 Comments