by Shamala Kandiah Thompson
On Sunday I ran a 5K race with a great group of women who actually made the experience enjoyable. It all started with my last blog post written a few days after the Boston bombings which ended with this sentence: “I know it’s unlikely that I will ever qualify for Boston but I have two legs that can run and maybe I need to start putting them into a few more races.”
Sometimes you have to walk, or run in this case, the talk. Alta, one of Paul’s colleagues, emailed a group of us saying that she had been inspired by my post and invited us to run/shuffle/walk the George Wodicka Hook Mountain half-marathon and 5K race in Rockland Park. for Boston. I couldn’t say no. (Although I politely declined to do the half-marathon which Kimberly, who had told Alta about the race, was doing.)
Over the next 24 hours all five of agreed to sign up. We ranged from veteran marathon runners to one who had never run a 5K in her life. Like so many this week-end we all wanted to show our solidarity with Boston.
Sunday morning dawned bright and chilly. One of my biggest worries was how to dress. Temperatures were expected to be between 37 and 39 degrees farenheit, lower still with the wind chill. I hate being cold so I packed lots of layering options. After my warm-up I decided to be daring and go with just a light long-sleeved top and capri pants. Plus headband and gloves. It was just right.
There are advantages to a small race. You can park your car several hundred meters from the starting point. Everyone just gathers at the start, no herding into corrals. Having friends to hang out with distracted me from my usual pre-race jitters. So for the first time in my life as I stood at the starting line with my running partenr, Kelly G, I did not have butterflies in my stomach.
We headed around at a steady pace. The course which does a loop of Rockland Lake is nice and flat. I understand there were forsythia bushes in full bloom and the water was a lovely blue but nothing registered other than runners ahead of me and the path beneath my feet.
At the 1 mile mark the race clock flashed 7:30. I didn’t think my legs could move that quickly. Had I gone out too fast? As a few people began to pass me I worried that I would fizzle out. Somehow I held it together, not quite at that pace, but enough to come in at 24.29 in spite of a head wind and queasy stomach in the second half. ( Ineed to work on my finish – I was outsprinted by two teenagers right at the end!) It was a personal best and a 3rd placing in my age group. The flat course helped. As did the thought of why we were doing it.
It was a good day for all five of us. Kelly G came in right behind me to finish second in her age group. Kelly A – who had never run a 5K – clocked an impressive 33 mintues. Alta and Bernadette who were originally planning to walk, ran most of the course and Kimberly finished a tough half-marathon in 1 hour 45 minutes with a smile on her face!
Post-run brunch at Alta’s was a chance to bond over our race experiences. Doing a race with these women brought home once more that in a race it is not about winning but about daring to go out and push those boundaries.