This past Saturday was Florida Hospital’s Celebration of Running 5k event in downtown Orlando. This race signifies the first of Track Shack’s Grand Prix Racing Series each year. Since injuring my back at the end of March, I can no longer run the races, but I was looking forward to walking the event. I made a goal going in to try to walk the 3.1 miles in 50 minutes or less.
I woke up at 5am to have breakfast and to get myself ready to go for the event. I’m definitely not a great morning person, but I can get myself moving at such an early hour if need be. Once I was dressed and ready to go, I headed out the door. It was 6:30am at that time (I need time to really wake up, thus the setting the alarm that early) and I knew that I could get to the Florida Hospital parking garage by 7am.
Once I arrived at the parking garage and parked, I quickly gathered my iPod and bib and went down to the race check-in and starting area. There were lots of people everywhere. Track Shack’s races always seem to be well participated in which is great. I secured my bib onto my shirt and got in line for the restroom. This is the only really bad thing about the races. The facilities that are available are port-a-potties. Not my idea of a fun experience in the slightest. I know from speaking to others at the events that I am definitely not alone in that line of thinking.
Spotting the race walkers table, I went over and spoke with the guy manning the table about competing as a race walker. The only rule that got me for this race is that you cannot have headphones on. This would have meant that I couldn’t utilize my iPod during the 5k. I’m used to always walking with music, so I told him that I’d have to practice sans the music and see about competing maybe at the next 5k.
A voice announced that the race was set to begin in about three minutes, so I immediately headed over to the starting line. I found the “Walkers” sign and got behind it with others who were going to be walking the event. From what I could see, there were quite a number of participants who were going to walk at least part of the race. In previous races, I would start before the walkers, but enough behind a lot of the runners that I wouldn’t get run over or in their way. I tended to do the run-walk-run thing, so the just walking the entire three miles is still a challenge for me even after the I-Drive 5k back in May.
The race started like a bottle rocket shooting off. Everyone got moving. I knew being a bit back in the pack would have me starting about a minute or so difference from the official clock, so I kept that in mind as I got going. I always get a rush of adrenaline during each race, and this time was no different in that regard. I had a smile on my face as I went over the starting line.
By the time I hit the first water stop, I was feeling pretty good. It was hot and humid out, but I was okay. I even opted to pass the water by this time and wait for the next one. Hitting the first mile marker, the clock time was 17:29. This brought a smile to my face. I was making great time!
With a PodRunner mix on my iPod and pride in my step, I kept moving as fast as I could walk. The terrain varied a lot throughout the course. We went over road, brick and gravel. Quite a difference from the conditions I normally encountered during my walks. I’m used to roads and sidewalks, but not brick roads. The varying terrain is a nice up to the challenge of the race.
The water stop for mile two was where I took up the offer of water from the volunteers. The heat and humidity was brutal by this time and even just a bit of hydration was a help. I hit mile marker two about 32 minutes and change into the official time clock. I knew that I was doing well and that if I kept that pace, I could easily finish the race in my goal time of 50 minutes. Keep going! I told myself, you can do it!
Hitting the mile marker sign for mile three about 16 minutes later, I pushed myself harder. You’re almost there! Sweat was dripping down my back, arms and legs, but I kept moving. That beautiful Finish line was in my sights! I crossed the line with a big smile on my face and raised both of my arms in the air. I had done it! Official clock time was 50:36. My D-Chip time was 49:01. Not only had I met my goal of 50 minutes, but I had exceeded it. Finishing a race is a feeling like no other. No matter whether you are a runner or a walker. Already, I can’t wait to get back out there for my next 5k.