The last month has been pretty rough athletic venture-wise. I knew that if I participated in the Underwear Affair I would have an injury problem. Sure enough, I ran, had a fabulous time, raised a solid amount -- but injured my left leg quite badly, incurring either a really ugly shin splint or a minor stress fracture.
Consequently I haven't been able to run. The days ticked by and I realized I just was not going to be able to run in the half, at least not without serious injury. But it irked me that I wasn't going to be able to participate -- in recent years the waterfront marathon/half marathon has exploded and become a huge race for Toronto. Plus I hate shelling out money for nothing.
|My finisher’s medal|
My race target was arbitrarily set at 10 minutes per kilometer. I would try... to finish LAST in my age group. The only rule: no running or jogging permitted -- just brisk walking.
I've never walked that (measured) length of distance before, so it was an entirely novel experience. I literally had no idea what it would be like. It turns out that life at the back of the queue is quite interesting in and of itself. I learned a number of things from my experience:
- It's harder than you think. For the simple reason that... you're out there almost twice as long. Walking sounds easy, right? Sure, for half an hour. At three hours? You're taking a trip to Soreville.
- Everybody is super friendly... and yet also way more determined. I admit, at the start I felt sheepish walking. I think of myself as a runner, and the natural inclination is to go, get a decent pace going, get a decent position. But walking, you had time for reflection and conversation with your peers. I heard a number of touching and inspirational stories from the other participants. As a runner, you kind of look down on walkers. It's instinctual. But now I have newfound respect for walkers. These two ladies I did the last 5k with even 'kicked' at the end, it was hilarious, and heart-warming. They were NOT going to lose to me! They had grit.
- Technique is useful. You know during the Olympics when they show racewalking and you think to yourself, give me a break, that looks so simple. Guess what -- those guys are impossible to catch with normal walking. I tried to keep pace with a couple of them at the start but they just zoomed off; it was clear that mechanically speaking my gait rate and length was far less efficient. I had to settle for a steady purposeful stride.
- Pee when you get the opportunity. When you're walking, the length of time between rest stations telescopes out incredibly! I drank a normal amount of water/gatorade for an event like this and it felt like being in kindergarten all over again about 10 kilometers in. "How much longer do I have to hold it in?!" Trust me, you do not want to be in a situation where it's 'just another kilometer' before the next washroom.
- Everything happens in slow motion. When you're running, you can usually surge a bit and pass someone if you need to. Walking, you had to gain an inch or two at a time... It was funny boxing someone in or getting cut off slowly...
It was mentally tough, not running today. But it was still worth doing. I guess I've just got to be patient, and look way, way forward to Around the Bay next year. I can get into gear by then!