Monday, September 19, 2016

The slow road to 5K

I spoke last week about a bucket list that I put together several years ago, while in the middle of the "my life is over" crisis that resulted from adult onset epilepsy. I actually still have the physical list around here...somewhere. My memory being what it is, I should probably try to find it and see if I have missed anything important.

One of the items on that list involved attending an annual sporting event here in Albuquerque, one that supports an organization that is near and dear to my heart: the Run For The Zoo, a 5-kilometer race that supports the Albuquerque Biopark. I have wanted to participate in it for as long as I can remember. The problem? I have probably not run 5 kilometers in total over my entire life.

See, I am just not a runner. It is not an activity I enjoy. The endorphin high that so many runners like to talk about never materializes for me: though it did show up occasionally when I was a weightlifter. These days it never shows up at all - all I get is sweat and discomfort from our daily exercise routine.

Still, I have never stopped thinking about it. Earlier this year, along with my commitment to buy a Halloween costume this year if I lost more than 50 pounds due to surgery, I also mentioned to Lor that I wanted to participate in the 2017 Run For The Zoo if everything turned out successfully. I have lots of ideas, and I think she just agreed with me, hoping that the idea would quietly go away after a certain amount of time.

Imagine her surprise when I mentioned yesterday that I wanted to start training for next year's Run after the majority of my weight loss had occurred - maybe December or January. My proposal fell on deaf ears. She didn't like to run, she reminded me. I don't like to run, for that matter. I still have two badly damaged knees. For that matter, I am still over 70 pounds overweight. (I started at 152 pounds overweight, remember.) As the injector of realism into my life, Lor was forced to pop my hopeful, wish-list balloon.

As a compromise, she did remind me that the event had a walking component as well. Now, last time I checked, the walking component was a 1-mile stroll around the zoo grounds, which isn't what I had in mind at all. However, after further investigation, I discovered that there is indeed a 5-K Fitness Walk "race". I use the term race loosely because it is non-competitive. No time is kept, no medals are handed out. Parents with small children and strollers are encouraged to participate. Not exactly what I had in mind at all.

However, I accepted my half a loaf, and began looking into training tools for race walking. You know, kind of a Couch To 5K kind of thing for those of us disinclined to actually learn how to run. As it turns out, no such thing exists. You are either learning to be a runner, or you are just going to have to figure it out for yourself. There are no other options.

Currently, we walk anywhere from 1.5 to 2 miles a day. 5 Kilometers works out to 3.11 miles. So, I am going to have to figure out a route in our neighborhood that equates to 3 miles, and then we can start hitting it at least once a week, I suppose. I hope the dog can keep up, though she has been doing fine so far with 2 miles. By January, I will try to start doing the 5K route more than once a week, so that I can begin working on my speed. Lor naturally walks an 18-minute mile without me to slow her down, but together we currently manage a little less than 3 miles an hour. At that rate, all the other race participants will have packed up and gone home by the time I get to the finish line. Even the ones with small children and strollers.

I am simultaneously excited and disappointed. While I am now looking forward to next May, I am also left with the feeling that I am not really going to be doing what I had in mind. But, hey. It isn't like I have ever participated in any kind of race in my adult life, right?

Besides, it is all for a good cause.

Fearing Finishing Behind A Stroller Full Of Infants,

- Hawkwind


  1. I did a 5K two years ago and I did the Couch to 5K model. It really works! Don't get discouraged. A good friend of mine runs half marathons and she said even if you run a minute, walk a minute, you are still better off than the person who isn't doing it at all.

    1. Thanks, cuz! We are actually getting some interest from other family members in doing the Run next year with us - it might turn into an impromptu family gathering as well as a fitness goal. I will keep everyone posted on how training goes - I still need to design a 5K course here in our neighborhood that doesn't get us run over!