I did it! Yesterday, I walked in my first 5K. I walked in the Summer Beach Run in Pass Christian, Mississippi. It was very hot, but a beautiful day for a walk. I woke up at 6am which is very early for me. After reading KathEatsRealFood's Tribute to Oatmeal, I was inspired to make oatmeal with butterscotch chips and brown sugar for breakfast and a fried egg. It was yummy! Hubby and Butterbean were supposed to go with me, but alas they slept in, and I went by myself. Butterbean would have loved it! The run started and finished in the War Memorial Park which doesn't sound like a place to take a child, but it was a really nice playground and exercise course. I believe that I have been to that park before when I was student teaching at Pass Christian Elementary School. I am sure that it has been revamped since Katrina destroyed almost everything along the coast there. This was the first time I have been to the coast since Katrina. I adore the Mississippi Gulf Coast and was devastated to see the damage it incurred from the storm.
Upon arrival, I checked in with the registration table. I told the lady my name and got my number. "You're a race walker. You know you are not allowed to jog even a step?" she said. Uh, yeah, my knees told me that long before you did. "No problem!" I replied. She took my number, wrote XL and handed me an extra large tank that I knew would be way too snug to wear. I should have asked for a small so Butterbean could wear it as night shirt. I filled out the bottom of the race number and pinned it on my black tank. Why did I wear black? Oh well, let's hit the potty. I walk over the the public restrooms where people are milling around stretching and waiting. After my turn, I decide to walk around the park to stretch while we wait for the race to start. I update my status on Facebook and Twitter. I'm feeling a little anxious about my size. I am the largest person there, not the oldest though. Oh, they have pizza! Guess that is for after the race, but it will be cold by then. I text message my sister, "If I had known that there would be so much "eye candy", I would have taken up 5K walking years ago when I was single!" Now I'm an old married woman and have to keep my eyes on the path ahead. She texted me back that that is why she used to walk at Keesler and why she started wearing reflective sunglasses.
About 8am, everyone begins to line up. The official makes a few announcements about the course, be careful of the potholes on the north side of Scenic Drive and says we will start with the siren. I situate myself about three quarters of the way back next to an older lady and someone my age that appears to be as out of shape as me. We make small talk. Then the siren sounds and off we go! The runners run ahead and the walkers get off to a good pace. Then I notice that I am falling behind. Within minutes, everyone is ahead of me. I'm dead last. Thoughts pass through my head. Why did I do this again? Because I can? Because I get 6 months of free Weight Watcher's magazines? I'm already a subscriber. Do you think they are smart enough to know that? Or am I going to be getting two copies now? Heck, I haven't even gotten my last one! I bet it is sitting in my stupid mail carrier's truck along with the two letters from the storage place telling me that the rent is going up! Hmmm there's a crossroad, I could just take a quick right and catch up with the others. No, you said you were going to do this, now do it. Hi! nice old lady watering her lawn! Water! That looks wonderful! Keep walking! Man! If you don't hurry it up all those skinny people are going to eat up all the cold pizza!
Then I see it! The one mile marker! I walk on. I round the turn onto Menge Avenue and start heading south. I contemplate picking up the orange cones, since I'm the last person walking. I don't. They promised us water sometime before the two mile mark. I turn right again and head up Scenic Drive. I see the water table and three young men walking toward it. Please don't let them be taking down that table before I get there. They don't. I arrive, drink three cups of Kentwood water and chat with them for a moment. The one encourages me to "Keep up your pace!" I move on. I am so focused on the walk that I almost totally missed the glorious beach view. It was so pretty. No one was out there and I could see for miles. I took a photo with my Blackberry and hoped that it would turn out since I didn't stop to take it. Then I noticed the houses on the north side of the street. There are some beautiful old homes that were spared by Katrina, but the live oaks seemed to have suffered. There was a mom with her dog and daughter out by the fence. I thought the dog was one of those Scottish Terriers, but then he stood up. He was a majestic black Great Dane.
As I passed up the two mile marker, I noticed that there were people running toward me up ahead, rounding a cone in the middle of the road and heading back to the finish line. Please, Dear God, don't make me run all the way to the end only to turn around and come back! I then remembered that they were also having a one mile fun run, so that cone meant I only had a half a mile from there! WoooHoooo!!! I got a new spring in my step and pressed on! At least, I wouldn't look like a dope coming in last. Some of the one mile folks were behind me. As I approached the chute, I took a photo of the official time clock and walked on through. The officials took my tab from my number and handed me a little sticker that said I was 199th. Oh well, I finished!
I filled out the sticker and stuck it on the poster, grabbed a piece of pizza and a piece of watermelon. I was wrong there was plenty of pizza left. It was water and Poweraide that ran out before I could get there. I was able to get a little cup of water. I walked around the farmer's market as they announced the winners. I was amazed to hear that there were people there from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and even Ohio! The official website says I finished 198th out of 198 people, but in my mind I'm still a winner for having tried. I'm planning on doing another one! My friend, Nancy, and I are going to do one in January in Mobile. January is a much better time of year for walking down here. I would like to work myself up to do a half marathon at Stennis next year. If you would have told me that I was going to walk in a 5K this time last year, I would have laughed in your face! Now, anything seems possible!