Yep, I’m a big fan of alliteration. Anyway, this morning, I walked in the Run the Falls 5k sponsored by King’s Daughters’ Hospital. My sister is in their IT department and asked me several weeks ago if I was interested in walking. We had walked in it back in 2017, I think, so I figured…let’s go for it.
So, I had two goals:
1. Don’t finish last.
2. Finish in less time than I did the first time I walked in it. (Over 55 minutes)
Due to modifications for Covid-19, they didn’t start us with a “bang”, but rather we were to line up by our “usual mile pace.” This made me laugh. I don’t have a usual mile pace. All depends on where I am, who I’m with, and what transpired earlier in the day. Since I walk at a slower pace than my sister, I opted to start behind her several feet. In fact, I figured I’d be over 15 minutes per mile, so I started near the back. However, the perk of their modifications is the shoe tag recorded our individual start time.
Now, a couple years ago, I received a surprisingly generous gift from parents of a girl in my 3rd grade classroom. I had her older sister in my class for part of the year a few years prior. Anyway, at the beginning of 2018, they blessed me with a “thank you” gift of an Apple Watch. I used it a bit, but not as much as I could’ve due to it draining the battery on my old iPhone 5s. This summer, I finally upgraded my phone. Several weeks ago, I ran across this sweet token of appreciation and after a few Google searches, I was able to disconnect it from my iPhone 5 and sync it to iPhone SE. So, I was able to start my “outdoor walk” tracker as I crossed the line.
I figured….that might help me make “goal 2”. I estimated if I kept my miles at 18.25 or less….that I could beat my time from the previous walk, I’m gonna be honest….the first mile and last mile were challenging. It seemed as soon as I walked down & up a hill then another hill was looming ahead. Those two miles…were over 18 minutes each, but the middle mile…it was the least challenging, and I think I finished that one in under 17. Whoop! Whoop!
As I walk, I pondered….I prayed….I appreciated….and I encouraged.
I pondered why I hadn’t thought to either drink some juice or eat something for breakfast before walking over 3 miles. I wondered why my exercise water bottle was so cumbersome to carry while attempting to pick up my pace. I contemplated whether I should just toss it to someone working the walk and ask them to keep it for me until I finished the event. Note to self: If they don’t provide water along the route due to safety precautions, just chug some water in the morning and drink more when it’s finished. I’m not doing that again. Well, unless it’s really hot…then staying upright will be more important that my pace.
I prayed, first, that I wouldn’t get lightheaded and keel over. That would be so embarrassing! I prayed for my family, friends, and my future. When you’re walking solo, even when you’re attempting to walk quickly…you can always send up prayers to the One who walks with you every step of your journey.
I appreciated the fact that this year’s route was an “up & back” path. Why? Before I even hit the 1 mile marker, runners AND a speed walker were passing me in the opposite direction. Those who knew me shouted out words of encouragement. “You got this, Jodi.” “Keep going!” “Good job.” This same encouragement was shared from church family, colleagues, high school classmates, parents of students who attend the school where I work, and….total strangers. Encouragement was also cheered from the KDH workers. As they saw me huffing and puffing (those hills made ‘smart breathing’ quite challenging), they kept urging me to keep going and reminding me that “you’ve got this”. Thanks, Encouragers, you made the 5K so much more positive having a cheering section as I went.
I also encouraged. As those church family, friends, & colleagues passed, I’d shout out a “Run, __, Run” or a “Go __”. I figured if cheers helped me then they’d do them likewise…even if their time wasn’t needing the boost. Then, as I rounded the cone and headed back on the last half, I saw a few people whom I had passed. I was able to shout out a “keep going”, “you’ve got this”, and “you can do it” to them as well. I knew those words spurred me on, so I wanted to offer the same to those behind me as well.
As I walked, I’d fix my eyes on a walker ahead of me and tell myself, “you can pass him/her, just keep focused.” I passed one. I passed another. Then, I passed a pair. After the pair of walkers (who were talking the entire time, so it wasn’t like they were trying to beat a previous time or anything, but it still felt good to pass them.) Next, I focused on one of KDH’s new doctors and the female he was walking with…who was walking her dog. At times, I’d get chuckled…because here I was panting and gasping, and there they were…casually strolling through the park with a dog. He’s carrying a beverage and their dog took a few potty breaks. I kid you not, at one point when the dog lifted his leg, I laughed out loud and thought, “I should write a post and title it “The Male in Front of Me Peed!”. I mean, that title would get more hits than this one.
When I neared the end, my sister, Sherry, came back out and walked the rest of the way with me, cheering me on, and giving me coaching advice. As I neared the finish line and 55-minutes was close at hand, she told me “pump your arms”, “quicken your pace”. I, in turn assured her, that “I can’t go faster”, “I’m light-headed”, “I’m not going to make it.” To which she countered, “yes you will…it’s just around the the curve….straight ahead….you’ve got this”.
She was right. I did make it. I beat my time. I wasn’t last. And….thanks to the couple & dog stopping a second or the dog wandering a bit…I even passed them a few steps prior to the timing mat. As I walked through the chute, someone took the strip from my number. Then, a high school student volunteering kneeled to cut off my chip, as I called out to my sister. I was right. I was lightheaded….and my legs started shaking…and the park started spinning. Thankfully, it’s the KDH 5K, so there was assistance immediately as I sipped from that cumbersome water bottle. We figured I needed some sugar or nutrients. Sherry asked if I wanted to walk out to get something, but with my legs still wobbly, we decided…nope. I leaned against the bumper of a vehicle, the KDH EMT stayed with me, and Sherry returned with a banana. After a couple bites of banana and a few more sips of water, we ventured out to the award ceremony.
My sister, even with a knee that is no longer cooperative and a foot that wasn’t a team-player, received the 3rd place medal for our age group. (Yes, we’re both in the 50-59 age group now). The 3rd place medalist in my previous age group beat my time by over six minutes. However, the one that made me chuckle to myself was the first place overall walker. Why? Remember when I said both runners and a walker passed me before I hit the 1-mile marker? Well, that walker…FINISHED the whole 5K in less time than it took me to walk my first mile. I was impressed, and I laughed. I didn’t laugh at myself, as I was proud of myself for meeting both goals. I laughed because…WOW! I mean, I don’t think I ever want to walk that fast. I think I would share my nephew’s perspective, “If you’re going to walk that fast, you might as well run.” Good job, Fast Walker, I was quite impressed!
So….the conclusion of my ponderings today have these lessons or precepts for you to consider.
- Encourage those you appreciate and appreciate those who encourage you.
- Keep your eyes focused on your goal, but don’t be so focused that you can’t find a reason to smile or chuckle along the journey.
- There is always ALWAYS something (or someone) to be thankful for.
- Celebrate your successes.
- Be impressed by the accomplishments of others, but don’t let them take away the pride you have in your own.
- Eat or drink something before you walk in a 5K. Ha!