My first 5K since my ankle surgery, part of the 12Ks of Christmas event, went better than I expected. Needless to say, I walked it all. I was very tempted to run parts of it, such as the last 500 yards, but was too chicken. More on that in a second.
This was my 138th road race since 2001, and my biggest fear going in was finishing last. I did not. I beat 39 other competitors, according to the early race results, which I know are wrong. (How could ANYONE do a 5K in more than two hours? Those must be misplaced 12K times.) It may have truly only been 30 people, but I did beat somebody (yay!).
More amazing than that is that I almost beat an hour. My time was 1:01:16, an average pace of 19:43 per mile. That’s amazing to me because in my relatively short time walking distances on a treadmill since my surgery, I have struggled to sustain a 20-minute mile pace for more than a few minutes. None of my other walks outside have been this fast. So I feel good about this walking pace, at least for now. (Slightly less important: I did not walk slower today than any of my previous 12K times; I’ve run the 12K seven times.)
I was walking so slow last night while shopping at Bellevue Square that I feared the worst about doing this “race” this morning. I figured my competition to avoid last place would be toddlers, the elderly, people with the biggest butts this side of Houston, and — hopefully — people who absolutely did not give a rip where they finished. That pretty much held true. There were just enough people in the last category to help me out.
The 3.1-mile course through central Kirkland worked in my favor. The first mile included a hill to climb that, while a lot of people passed me, my ankle got warmed up and there was very little pain. I do uphills much better than downhills. And with my ankle warm (I also rode a mile on my stationary bike and walked another half-mile from my parked car before the race), I was able to handle the downhill in mile 2.
The last mile was the completely flat stretch on Lake Washington Boulevard and Lake Street along the Kirkland waterfront. Amazing, I built some speed and passed several walkers who were simply enjoying the walk and not being competitive. I thought several times about breaking into a jog, but was afraid to. I think that made me walk faster, even though it was with a slight limp.
I entertained the idea of running the last stretch to the finish line, especially if it meant passing somebody else, but I ended up passing a young couple just walking as fast as I was. Maybe I should credit the Maximum Strength 5-Hour Energy I did before the race for that last burst.
Anyway, my runner friends John Swenson and Stuart Glascock, who both had better 12K times than my 5K time, will chuckle at this race report. And I don’t blame them. But I had fun and this will be something to build on. There is another 5K race coming up January 1, and maybe I won’t be afraid to try running some on this ankle.
Till next time.