5k Hatred


Above: Percy Warner Park in the fall, not spring. Still, fabulous.

A beautiful Tennessee May morning. Went out for an “I don’t know” run at about 7:30. These are the runs where I’m not sure what I want to do until I see how I feel, and sometimes I can’t see how I feel until I’m nearly halfway through the run. Thusly, I don’t know. This morning, however, I felt “moderate,” so I picked up the pace after about a mile and did a slightly pushed run of 8 miles. This was in Percy Warner Park–site of the frightening and enigmatic “Flying Monkey Marathon,” ( http://www.harpethhillsmarathon.com  )so  the pace was not particularly snappy…about 8:52 overall. Lotsa hills. Then more hills. You go down a hill, and then you go up a hill. Hills, people.

During the run, I decided to do the Strawberry Stride 5k up near the KY border this weekend in Portland, TN. This is a puzzler in some ways since I HATE 5ks. Yeah, I know–they’re short and over before you know it. But a 5k to me is like this: the gun goes off (or whatever) and it is a sheer pandemonium of pain and nausea for 20-something minutes. My mouth gets dry, everything blurs (not because of my speed, I assure you), every person around me annoys me. At mile one, I hate myself for probably going out too fast, but I’m afraid to slow down. I look at my watch 350 times during mile 2. On occasion, I have wondered if I’m going to have a heart attack. Typically, there comes a point near the last half mile where teenage boys and middle-aged men will be damned if a middle-aged woman will pass them. This is unpleasant as they take it personally and stay right on my ass, breathing like a horse for as long as they can. When the finish line comes into view, it is always a struggle to keep from hurling. Fifty more yards, across the line. Hideous.

Truly, I have no fond memories of 5Ks. None. I mean, I am fond of some of my times and chintzy awards I’ve won, but there is no love for the 5k distance. Any other distance, I can recall moments of enjoyment and at least a vague awareness of the course. As tough as marathons are, they are, to me, infinitely more pleasant than the 5k. There is always a stretch during any marathon where you look around, love the day, and are Hallmark Card-ish about your own running. (Note: this does not apply to miles 19-26. Here, you skulk around, rue the day, and are The Exorcist-ish about your own running.)

And yet, I’ll be running a 5k on Saturday. It’s supposed to be a flat, fast course, so I’d like to see what I can do. This may be unwise only 26 days after running both Boston and the Country Music Half within 5 days of each other. What do I care. It’s a 5k. The more horrific, the better.




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