Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Great Human Race - 5k Race Report

Short version: It was hot (high 70s), cloudy..I wore blue Nike tempo shorts and a white dri fit tee, brooks adrenaline 6’s…final time 41:49 – a PW for me but a PR for my friend in his first race ever!

Loooooong version:
The Great Human Race in Durham is organized by the Volunteer Center of Durham, and non-profits from the area are all eligible to participate. Fundraising can go to the non-profit of each runner’s/walker’s choice.

Flash back to January – I started a new job, working with three exercise training studies. One of the studies had a group finishing up about a month after I started, and we all became friends in the process. A man in that group, who could barely walk the full 30 minutes when he started, began to run on the treadmill during the last couple weeks of the study. Wanting to keep him motivated, I thought he needed a new goal to work towards and suggested a 5k. We talked about it, and he thought about it, and we wound up picking today’s race as a goal. He’s been on his own training for this race for the past two months, with only a little input from me via email.

This morning I arrived at the Durham Bulls athletic park to meet my friend, his wife and 5 yr old daughter, and a friend of his. My friend wore his study t-shirt, which made him much easier to find in the mess of people. We chatted for a while, and his little girl showed us how to stretch (too cute!!), and then the race officials started herding people towards the start. The three of us (me, my friend, and the other friend) lined up together pretty close to the back of the pack. This being my friend’s first 5k, I expected a 14 min pace or so and we tried to line up accordingly.

Just past the start, friend’s friend left us behind. The first half mile (maybe a little less) is uphill, and my friend really struggled with it. I encouraged him to take baby steps, and he made it all the way up the hill before we took our first walking break. Somewhere on this hill we passed a blind man, who was running with his walking stick but wasn’t using it – he had hold of a companion’s arm, and they were working together. Really inspiring! We walked about a block at the top of the hill, and then when we started down another one I suggested we use gravity to our advantage. First mile in about 13:30.

The second and third miles were really more of the same. After our initial walk break I suggested that we pick landmarks to run to, and reevaluate when we came to each one. It worked really well! Often times my friend would say “Ok, to the speed limit sign”, we’d reach that sign and he’d say “Well…to the intersection” and then extend it again, and so on. We walked through the lone aid station so that he could drink his water, and headed back on our way.

The volunteers on this course were great! The Durham Police were out directing traffic (and put us back on course when we almost went the wrong way), and local cheerleaders were out doing what they do best. A great race, I will do it again next year.

According to my watch (I didn’t get splits), we ran it in 41:49 for an average pace of 13:28 – a PW for me, but the most fun I’ve ever had running a race! Going out there planning to do nothing but make it fun for someone else really puts a whole different perspective on things, and I’m so glad we did it!


Anonymous said...

I was forwarded your blog and loved hearing your perspective of the Great Human Race. I have been involved with planning the race for the past 8 years and since I am always working the race it is so wonderful to hear such positive comments about the event. Even more inspiring is your dedication to your friend in his first 5K. You sound like a very sincere and caring person. Perhaps we'll see each other at next year's race.

Vic said...

I'm proud of you Em. You rock.