Posted tagged ‘Labor Day 5K’

Leawood Rotary Club Labor Day 5K 2021

September 8, 2021

So I did a thing.

For a while I’ve been scheming a way to get back into running. I’ve been pretty diligent about logging miles on my treadmill, and I have all of my running gear of yore (except the new shoes I got myself earlier this year). I didn’t expect to begin again at my peak fitness or even the level of fitness I had fallen to before I left the sport, but I thought I could give it a try again.

A serendipitous coincidence made the difference. I had been shopping around for an entry-level 5K I could attempt and I found one nearby that was on Labor Day. The course was described as “fast and flat,” which has sometimes even been true about courses in my experience. But I actually knew most of the route from having driven and ridden my bike along it many times, so this much was correct.

The second thing was that my son and DIL and Small Paul were coming here for Labor Day weekend to observe Small Paul’s first birthday. My daughter-in-law Celestine and I had done the Trolley Run together several years ago. That was the last time I felt I had had a good run. So when I knew she would be in town, I suggested that she and I do this 5K together. She was delighted by the idea and agreed readily. So I got us signed up.

The very little running on pavement I’d done in recent weeks told me that my brisk walks on my treadmill were not really preparing me for shoes on the ground, throwing one foot in front of the other running. So I showed up on race day mostly unprepared, but then I didn’t set any pace or timing requirements either. I was going to do what I could and be in the moment, a quality that was sorely lacking in my past running life.

Celestine said she had done very little training for this run as well. (The fact that she’d had only two weeks notice may have had something to do with that.) Still, she is Kenyan.

My wife, my son, and Small Paul were our support team at the race. They would cheer us as we passed, the course allowing them to see us a few times without the need to go far from the start/finish. Small Paul didn’t understand any of this, of course, but he did like smacking a cowbell against his stroller. My son tells me that one time when we passed and waved, he tried to run after us. He’s barely mastered walking, so running, even at my pace, was a little ambitious for him. Still, he’s half Kenyan.

I knew I could not run the entire course. I was fine with running some and walking some. Celestine slowed to walking whenever I did and picked up the pace when I was ready (which often coincided with passing our support team and/or course photographers). We started out running, but I soon slowed to walking when we came to the first (and only) very slight hill on this “fast and flat” course. After that we alternated between running a specific distance (“to that sign,” “past the race photographer”) and walking generally a greater distance. I did find, however, that once I was warmed up, I was able to run farther and longer, and by the end of the 5K I felt pretty solid in my ability.

We “sprinted” to the finish arch. My sneaky original plan had been to bolt ahead of Celestine so I could say I beat a Kenyan, but she had proved such a delightful running companion — full of conversation, encouragement, and a friendly ear — that I didn’t. We crossed together, just as we had at the Trolley Run several years ago.

I was handed a bottle of water and then someone handed me the medal you see above. It was wrapped in a plastic bag, so I had to tear it open and hang the medal around my own neck. I always prefer it when this is done to/for me. I feel like I’m honored for my effort. But I finished my first organized race in years, and I was upright at the end.

I’m not at the level where I can run a half marathon continuously. Not yet. But when I got home, and after we packed my truck with furniture my son was taking to his St. Louis home, and after I had a shower, I began shopping for another 5K I could do soon. I found one at my old university, and I’ll “run” it later this month.

But I can also put my feet on pavement and just run for myself. I have a lot of miles to collect to get back into decent running shape.