RGBisMe has a new gangster name all because he registered for the Coaches vs Cancer 5k race. The run came with a lot of little perks for locals including an all you could eat spaghetti supper the night before the race.
When this past week started, we had no intention of ever running in any local races. I had been volunteering my mornings at WPSU, the local public radio station, for their Spring Pledge drive. I got to talking with one of the women who works there as Donor Services Coordinator and she too had just started running outside recently. She was going to run in her first race and it was the Coaches vs Cancer 5k race. Her enthusiasm was contagious and I found myself signing up and talking RGBisMe into signing up also.
Do note that RGBisMe has, prior to yesterday, never officially even run 5k before. He has been training in the Couch to 5k program and had built up to running 28 minutes. He was just finishing his 8th week of the 9 week program and up to running 28 minutes straight. He had no idea how far he had ever gone. Fitness has been our main goal and quantifying the distance or speed has not been a focus.
We decided to take advantage of the free spaghetti dinner for all participants (we took our own sauce) to have a fun meal Friday night. We got to the church where it was being held and gave our names at the table where registrants were to check in. Our last name always give a bit of a problem but they found us right away and verified by reading off our first names. The funny thing was that they got my name right but read his in diminutive form.
The meal was very good and we chuckled over how they had read his name. RGBisMe said he hadn’t been called that since he was about 8 years old. We decided that the fellow may like calling everyone by a knick-name like that so men signed up as “Bob” he might take the liberty to call “Bobby” and a guy who signed up as “Tim” would probably get “Timmy.”
The odd little twist kept the meal light for us. We were pretty much the oldest folks there, surrounded by high school and college athletes chowing down and carbo loading for the short race the next day. We had small portions but enjoyed it very much.
The morning of the race was so cold that it started to sleet an hour before the start. We got there early to get our racing chips. The registration table asked for our names so they could give us the correctly numbered chips and RGBisMe looked down to see his name, again in diminutive form on the sheet! It wasn’t just the guy last at the spaghetti supper, somoene chose to change his registered name from “Jim” to Jimmy.” We had another good laugh and thought that should be his permanent racing name.
Until closer to the start time we huddled by a heater in the nearby Intramural Building to stay warm and did our warm up and light stretching in there too. We chatted with the woman who had inspired us to register and her team, Cool Blue. They were all first time racers and we lined up with them outside between the 10 minute milers and walkers. I have yet to break the 10 minute mile so this was perfect for me.
RGBisMe and I were all set with racing chips lashed to our sneakers. We knew our time would be up to 30 seconds off since we were starting so far back in the pack but I would try to use my chronograph by starting it as we crossed the actual start line. I got all distracted when the gun went off by making sure RGBisMe had the iPod going to his liking and giving him encouragement and stupidly started my watch when we started running – DUH!
Times and distances are secondary so I let the blunder go as we jogged across the start line with a small section of the Blue Band playing the Penn State Fight Song. We are not fans of any PSU sports teams so it was a very odd thing to experience directed at something we were participating in.
The pack of joggers and runners and walkers started filtering into distinct pace groups during the first mile of the certified 5k course. We passed jogging strollers, people tripping over their leashed dogs and families who needed to stay together at a pace slower than our own.
Just around the first mile marker came the next surreal moment of the run. The course was about to tackle on of the steeper hills and at the base of it was The Nittany Lion slapping hands with everyone that ran by. Yes, we slapped his hand and chugged up the hill. I noted to RGBisMe that our first mile split was a little fast to maintain so we probably should gear it back a bit. He nodded in agreement and slowed his pace for about 20 yards.
His iPod music must have been really inspiring because he was all pepped up and started up again at a faster pace. We had both agreed that we would have no problem if the one or the other of us needed to go ahead so I allowed him to put some distance between us after trying to keep up for a short while. If I wanted to make it to the end I had doubts of being able to maintain a pace that close to 10 minutes a mile.
By the second mile, I looked and saw he was just shy of the 21 minute mile and I grabbed a water at just over 21 minutes. We weren’t far apart but it was during the last mile, when the course snaked through traffic on Curtain Rd, where I finally lost sight of him. Go Jimmy!
I had a fair run, I was cold and a little bored. I was glad I hadn’t given any the name of anyone I knew as a memorial tribute. They had the names posted all along the race route and I would have broken down. For some reason I get emotional when I run. I am not certain if it’s fatigue or some altered state. Seeing the name of someone I cared for or knew passed from cancer would have been too much. It was hard enough seeing the poster painted names of people I didn’t know. I held thanks in my hear that my Dad wasn’t among those who could be posted and tried to keep my thought positive. Surreal moment 3 was quite near the the 3rd mile marker. Along with the names, someone had painting the word “Spring” on one of the posters. All I could wonder is if they thought Spring had died of cancer that chilly morning.
I could then see the roped off shoot a tenth of a mile ahead. If I was a real runner I would have picked up my pace but I knew if I wanted any push for the very end I would need to wait a bit. This is the second race I have been in and what seems to light a fire under my tail is the clock at the end. When I could finally see it, it had just turned to 32:00 and I was excited that it was going to be a 5k PR for me. It was more than 2 minutes better than any other time I had estimated. I crossed the sensor 50 seconds after Jimmy and got the time of 32:15.95.
We chatted about our separate experiences and for the next few minutes RGBisMe still had the iPod in his ear. It was as we were going to cool down and get our post run snack he remarked to me, “Hey! The program says I am supposed to start my cool down walk right now!” It was great that the Couch to 5k program as brought us to a level of fitness we never would have imagined as possible.
During the afternoon RGBisMe decided that “Jimmy” could be his racing name but it was just too Mafioso to sport in regular life. We tossed out a few twists to his gangster name and came up with “Jimmy the Eye” since he has a good eye for design as opposed to “Jimmy the Knife” for his skills with an exacto blade at work and carving rubber stamps.
This run didn’t draw a lot of serious runners but some pretty fast youngsters lead the field of 500+. Jimmy and I don’t have any other plans to run in local races. We agreed it would have to be for a charity we felt pretty strongly about.
I am looking forward to a couple more women’s races later in the year. The first is actually a 10k and the second is a duathlon sprint (12 mile biking / 5 mile run) with an obstacle course at the end. Last fall and winter when I was recovering from a terrible lower back injury I never would have dreamed that my frustration with recovering would have lead me to this. Jimmy the Eye and me are always up for new adventures, see?