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My First 5k

Last Saturday, I participated in my first 5k, the Beat Coach Pete Fun Run/Walk. I’ll write “participated” here even though when I tell the story in person, I tend to use the word “coerced.” That coercing was done by my daughter and son-in-law, who run roughly a half-dozen races of varying lengths each year and love every quad-searing, oxygen-deprived minute. By contrast, I do all my running very non-competitively (i.e. indoors on a treadmill with Civil War documentaries on the TV to keep me company).

Starting around New Years, they began pestering me to join them at Beat Pete, but I kept putting them off. Three nagging doubts held me back from registering: 1) A 5k translates to 3.1 miles – farther than I had run since…well, it’d been a long time; 2) The race would be run on pavement, and I wasn’t sure how my joints would handle the transition from soft treadmill belt to hard road; 3) I’m not what you would call a fast guy (people only call me “Speedy” ironically), so I didn’t know if I was really what you’d consider “race material.”

The kids had many solutions to my doubts. 1) With a combination of jogging and walking, pretty much anyone can cover 3.1 miles; 2) Though it’s best to gradually acclimate your joints to a hard surface like pavement, one event wouldn’t kill me; 3) Unless you’re a professional, your primary race is only against yourself, but you can also compete against people of like abilities. Pick a few people you think you can beat, then see if you can make it happen. Thus, having run out of excuses not to join the Beat Coach Pete movement, I finally registered a week before the race.

Plagued by dreams of getting lost in Boise and being unable to find the starting line, I didn’t sleep well the night before. But as it turns out, Beat Coach Pete is not a quiet affair. The race area was loud, easy to find, and thankfully had fairly warm weather (since last year’s race was apparently graced by snow fall). As I lined up at the start, I took my daughter’s advice to pick a few other people to try to beat. I selected the three BSU Elvises (What’s the plural of Elvis? Elvi?) and a pregnant woman (please don’t judge me).

Since I typically run on a treadmill, the race itself was an adventure in footing. Small hills, grass, sidewalks, curbs, planters, trees, and the feet and elbows of thousands of other racers required much juking and jiving on my part, and I felt myself becoming victim to “race high” (according to my son-in-law, this is the tendency to get caught up in the moment, run much faster than you should, and burn yourself out too early). Summoning my discipline, I slowed to my pre-planned pace, but still had to walk a bit to make it to the finish. And although I did not beat Pete, I did finish about 10 minutes faster than I anticipated. I also beat two of the three Elvises (though I placed third in my race with the pregnant woman).

In the end, I’m really glad I was “coerced” into doing Beat Coach Pete. I’ve always known the importance of staying fit, but it was interesting to actually put my fitness into practice in an outside event. And since I’ve semi-promised my daughter and son-in-law that I’ll join them for the Harvest Classic 8k (that’s five miles!) in September, it looks like it won’t be the last time I do so. Wish me luck, and keep moving, my friends!

– Alan

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