I ran an in-person 5K race last weekend – my first since the end of October – and I ran it with my best running buddy!
This was probably the 8th or 9th 5K race I’ve run with JJ, although a couple of those were virtual events last year and therefore were just runs around the neighborhood. He hadn’t come with me to an actual event since the end of 2019.
I signed up for the race in February or so, and I picked it because it was very convenient, only about 15 minutes away. It was the 29th Annual Bill Roney Memorial 5K in Utica, Michigan, which is put on by Hansons Running Shop, and snakes through the neighborhood behind the store. The event benefited the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, a program where Hansons, with support from Brooks shoes, sponsors post-collegiate runners and helps them train for big races and the Olympic trials.
While the race has been happening for nearly three decades, it was renamed after Bill Roney more recently, after Bill’s death from throat cancer. He was good friends with the Hansons, and a big supporter of the Hanson-Brooks Distance Project that was instrumental in helping with the housing for the runners in the project. (Roney was a builder by trade.)
I learned all that after emailing race organizers and asking for more information about Roney, since I had worn a shirt with his name on it, and I had no idea who he was. It turned out that I had emailed his daughter, Shannon, who wrote me back and shared some info and a link to a local news story. Thanks, Shannon!
I went and picked up my bib the evening before. Good ol’ lucky number 131!
I arrived at this race… completely unprepared. I literally haven’t run since my last virtual 5K in November, although I’ve been very active since then, and diligent with my 6X a week exercise program. My goal was just to finish the race without ever walking.
There were a few different waves, based on speed, and I selected the slowest wave (10-min mile and slower) for me and JJ. We arrived about a half-hour early. I wore a mask at the staging area, which was on a residential street next to a big church, and kept socially distant from others. I walked JJ up and down a side street, hoping he’d poop, so he’d get that out of his system before we started running, and he did, which was great. I also stretched and warmed up a little bit.
I didn’t take any photos at the actual event, because I was preoccupied, both with the run, and because JJ was such a handful. I’m going to have to start rethinking whether or not I run with JJ at these events. He knew as soon as we got out of the car that something exciting was happening, and started whimpering and crying immediately. And he never shut up. There were waves that started before us, and he went nuts when those runners took off, probably wondering why we weren’t running with them.
When it was our turn to line up behind the start line, JJ and I stayed off to the side. He was so noisy – I felt like a parent on an airplane with a crying baby.
He quieted down once we started running, though. He loves to run, although with me controlling our speed it was more of a trot for him. I was joking with some strangers who were petting him after the race that he probably trade me in for a faster human without a second thought about it!
The route was through a flat, residential neighborhood, and there were volunteers at every intersection pointing where to go and keeping an eye out for traffic. There wasn’t much traffic, since it was early Saturday morning, but they hadn’t closed off the streets, either.
I felt OK through during the first mile, but during the second mile, everything started aching and I turned miserable, quickly. My lack of preparation was evident. I was slapping me in the face. So then I started doing what I often do during races: I started negotiating with myself. “Run until the Mile 2 marker, then see how you feel, and maybe you can walk.” And then, once I got to that marker, I’d say, “Keep running until that turn up ahead, then maybe you can walk for a little bit after.”
I did this over and over, continuing to push myself to run further, until JJ forced me to stop running… by pooping. Again. It was roughly a one-minute pause for him to poop, and me to pull out the bag, scoop it up, and tie the bag shut. Then, a short detour a few houses later, because I ran up some random driveway and added the bag of poop to their trash can.
Once this unplanned hiccup was over, I told myself that I had to run the rest of the race, because I had just had a little break. So that’s what I did. I ultimately crossed the finish line in 36 minutes and 4 seconds.
I’m proud that I went and participated, and feel confident that I would’ve finished without walking or stopping had JJ not relieved himself, and that felt good. The run itself didn’t feel good at all, but, as previously noted, I haven’t been running lately.
I finished 6th out of 7 in my age group (Men 40-44), and 114th among all men, which included three 14 year olds, and three guys in the 80s.
Oh and I have another 5K in a couple weekends! This one is on the other side of the state, and at a nature center, so I haven’t decided if JJ is coming with me on that trip yet. This race may be a solo outing!
Keep it up, David!
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