9am-- 5K race, 23:50, 7:40/mile
Fun races pop up all the time this time of year. On Tuesday, I learned of an event which had a fascinating story- the Wipe Out Obesity 5K.
It seems two fourth grade classes at our local school have been working on a multi-week project, culminating in a 5K race designed to raise awareness of childhood obesity. In talking with one of the teachers, I learned how it was a cool learning opportunity. They made a big, multi-week project out of it, with a structure, committees, reports, presentations, math, English...you can see how you could incorporate a lot. In many ways, they taught the kids project management skills without probably calling it such. It was the type of event I wanted to support. And I also wonder if I shouldn't hire some of these kids in a few years.....
The event was quite a success, as about 230 participated by either running or walking. The kids did the announcements, wrote and delivered the pre-race speeches with all the details, down to thanking the grocery who donated the bananas and water. They even led us all in stretching exercises before the race!! To boot, they asked and got our mayor to show up and be the official starter. It helps he's a pretty good runner himself but it was still a nice feature.
All in all, the kids did a good job. Somehow, the fact that registration a bit disorganized and it started 25 minutes late and a couple of course turns weren't too clear didn't really matter much. The kids handled the stuff that seemed important to them and what they missed simply flowed from a lack of experience, which you'd expect for 10 year olds.
I had fun too. With the Bayshore Marathon just a week away, I needed to get some decent miles in today. So I did 10 miles on the trail to Fort Ouiatenon early, then headed to this race, with about an hour between. As I ran the race, my own thoughts flowed back to my school days, particularly to Kenny Hutton, my High School math teacher who was mostly responsible for me becoming an engineer. Mathematically competent but socially weak, one of his more "inspirational" maxims was his cynical statement to us "If you make the pond small enough, any of you can be a big fish." With respect to running speed, today's race was a very, very small pond.
I looked around at the start and didn't see many folks who looked like experienced runners, other than Mike, my work colleague, fellow engineer and former U of Toledo cross country star. I suggested to him "You could win this, dude." He shrugged but seemed open to the idea.
The mayor fired the gun. All the kids bolted off but faded after a couple hundred meters. Mike and one other guy predictably took the lead. But, to my surprise, by the half mile mark, I was in 5th place. How did that happen? I looked at my Garmin and saw "6:40" on the pace. Oh my. So I backed off, wanting to basically see if I could carry a sub 8 pace. Eventually the brother of one of the organizing teachers caught and passed me but that's how it finished out. My miles were 7:17, 7:50, 8:11 and the last tenth at a 7:47 pace, with my overall time 23:50. I was 6th place overall out of the 200+ participants. Had they had age groups, I would have easily won my division, as the first 5 runners were one HS kid and four twenty-something guys. To go sub 24 after doing 10 trail miles early was nice. After I got home, I noted this was the 2nd fastest 5K I've ever run, just 15 seconds off my PR. Who'd a thunk it??
After finishing, Mike, who did win the race, and I watched many others finish. Wow. I was surprised how many, many people were totally and completely gassed after doing 5K. Toast. I knew a lot of them and they were struggling. "Man, I barely survived" was the common theme.
And I think that may be the success of this event. As my wife pointed out when I got home "If 2 or 3 folks left and said 'Boy, I gotta do something to shed some pounds and get in shape' it's all worthwhile." And the kids just might have caused that to happen. It ain't just childhood obesity with which our society has to deal.