Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A laborious Labor Day

While many Americans spent Labor Day relaxing with picnics and barbecues (or is that just a cliche?), I was working my butt off.

No really, I mean it. I walked a half-marathon event, and I think my butt actually fell off somewhere around mile 11.

This is my second half-marathon, and it was my last (probably...never say never). I was pretty sure it would be my last before yesterday even arrived, for a handful of decent reasons:

1. I used training for a half-marathon as motivation to increase my walking mileage last year when I was trying to rehabilitate my fractured (and healed) ankle while losing weight. It worked...my ankle is strong and I'm 50 pounds lighter. But I've since realized that I'm firmly enough into a routine of regular, varied exercise that I don't need to dangle that carrot anymore.

2. While I do enjoy the longer walks that come with a training schedule (especially when the training period is in the nice-weather months), I don't enjoy the schedule's rigidity. There were a few weekends this summer where it was really inconvenient to need to fit a 9-mile walk into a weekend away. If I'm walking for myself, and not for a training schedule, I can be more flexible.

3. How many "free" souvenir shirts do I really need? Especially when they seem to be in colors I don't wear (Last year: golden yellow. This year: navy.) Plus, they only come in men's sizes, which annoys me. I didn't get back into shape so I could wear boxy men's shirts, thank you very much.

But...I had committed to doing this race, so I stuck to plan. However, by about Mile 2, I thought "Yeah, I'm not doing this again." This was a half-marathon walk, mind you (there was a separate half-marathon run), yet I was one of VERY few walkers. I made sure I was on the start line, rather than back in the pack, so I was able to suss out the situation rapidly.
  • Two older gentlemen were off and gone rather quickly, using actual racewalking technique (which I've never learned, but I'm pretty fast without it).
  • A small pack of joggers broke ahead, staying in my sights for about half the race. A few of them eventually picked up their (running) pace and I never saw them again. I passed the others and stayed ahead for a few miles before they picked up their own pace and pulled ahead again.
  • A handful of run-walkers would pass me when running, but I would pass them once they started walking.
In a nutshell, I knew there were only two people ahead of me who were walking the entire race. And nobody who passed me was walking...they were running. Which would make me the Number 3 walker, and the Number 1 female walker (This was confirmed by some of the cheering volunteers at a few mile points. A frequent comment was "Wow, it's great so see someone who's actually walking.") .

So...how did I fare in the final results? Number 24, with a time of 2:46. The racewalkers came in at 2:33. The top two finishers came in at around 1:30. I'll bet everything I own that they didn't walk a single step. They were slow-to-medium runners, pure and simple. Total BS, in my book.

So, that's it. I'm done. Retired. When I walked a larger half-marathon last year, the sheer number of entrants (and my starting position further back in the pack) made it impossible for me to know how I fared against people who walked the entire event. Well, this year, I know. And I rock!

1 comment:

jeanlass said...

Hi! I just wanted to thank you for your blog. I found you through your Refashion posts- I think it must have been yoga pants or something. I had the idle thought: "if I could choose a body, I'd choose that one." (Duplicating Ava Gardner's being out of the question.) Then when I read your blog and found that you'd once been significantly heavier, I was really impressed. I've signed up for a belly dancing class this month-- thanks for the inspiration!