A couple weeks ago a co-worker encouraged me to participate in the Coronado Valentines 10K. I hesitated. Although I am physically active, I do not enjoy running. OK, I abhor it. My disdain for this sport likely developed in middle school athletics. I enjoyed playing volleyball and running sprinting events in track. However, the athletics department required female athletes to run cross country in the off season. One would think a thin, lanky 13-year-old would take to this sport like a duck to water. However, my fast legs lacked endurance, and I typically finished every meet at the tail end. Honestly, my coaches would stand near the finish line and encourage me to pass the other two to three winded girls, so I would not come in dead last. Psychologists call this type of event an emotional-wounding.
My co-worker provided reassurance. She noted that since I lived in Coronado I could walk to the starting line and highlighted that the course was flat and beautiful. I took a look at the website and noticed the 10K cost was $52.00 and started at 8am. However, the 1-mile “Fun Run” only cost $24.00, started at 7:30, and also came with a t-shirt and a medal. Lower cost, shorter distance, t-shirt, finish my workout faster – this was a no-brainer!
I felt so official picking up my race day packet and mingling with all the running folk. Given my abhorrence for running, I find it ironic that I’m often mistaken for a runner. This error is likely due to the fact that I’m petite and often wear wildly colored running shoes and shorts. Oh yeah, and I wear a running cap that says 13.1 (half-marathon distance). (The running hat was not my fault. I went to the running store seeking a plain running hat. However, the store only had 13.1 and 26.2 (marathon) hats, so I determined I would be less of an imposter if I chose 13.1.) The race volunteer kindly explained how to attach my timing chip to my shoe. This instruction left me perplexed. I thought the entire point of a fun run was not to compete! However, I graciously thanked him, picked up my chip and moved on to the shirt table. A volunteer handed me a lovely, long-sleeved sports shirt which beautifully displayed the Coronado 10K Valentine’s Day logo. No mention of the Fun Run; hence, I could continue my “I’m a runner” ruse.
Prior to race I questioned whether I should wear the race-issued shirt or if that is similar to one wearing new shoes straight out of the shoe store. In order to prevent a fashion faux pas, I turned to my runner friends on Facebook. If you know my friends, you will understand this was a poor choice. Replies included, “Having run more than 50 races, I have found that wearing a shirt, any shirt, can be a good thing. . . I’ll carb up for you. I won’t run but I will carb load because, what else are friends for, no? . . .sparkly tube top . . . Wear your most comfortable training shirt. They say for races never try anything new.” Okay don’t wear the shirt, try sparkly tube top.
While walking to the starting line I notice lots of thin, very fit runners warming up. I think, “Don’t you realize that you have to run 10K very shortly? I would totally be conserving my energy.” I smile and nod at the runners and liven my pace to appear like I’m one of them. I have the timing chip on my shoe and my zipped jacket shrouds my fun run bib. Hence, I continue my hoax. Until. I. Found. The. Starting. Line!
I walk into a passel of parents, strollers, toddlers, and elementary-aged children. The race announcer says, “Hello spectators! The Fun Run will start in 10 minutes. Come over to the starting line, so you can see all these cute kids taking off. Have your cameras ready.” Yikes! I hurriedly pull on my (thankfully) very dark shades. Mortified, I begin inching my way towards a family with red-headed children hoping the crowd will mistakenly think one of them belongs to me. In the process I bump into a woman who asks me where my little one is. Gulp, “At the starting line with my neighbor and his kids.” I just lied to a parent at a fun run raising money for an outdoor camp for children with physical disabilities. I am going straight to hell.
Thankfully the starting gun fires and children dart in front of the adults while parents call, “wait for me!” I feel relieved. At least the crowd will think my children merrily dashed along ahead of me. I relax as I pull away from the spectators and get into my stride and smell the ocean air. Yes, I’m glad I got up early to enjoy this gorgeous morning and get some exercise. Then I see the finish line. Wait I want more of this race! Is this really a mile? I’m not even breaking a sweat. Maybe I COULD actually run a few miles. At least my humiliation is close to an end. As I reach the finish line, the purpose of the timing chip comes to fruition. . . I hear the race announcer, “and folks we have Amelia coming to the finish line!” Damn. I graciously take my medal and let them clip my timing chip. I stuff my medal in my pocket and quickly zip up my jacket. Now the proof is gone. I breathe.
I decide to stay near the starting line to watch my co-worker run the beginning of the 10K. I see many fit and swift runners dash by. Followed by your weekend runners, then your I run once a month runners and the I only run in fun run runners, then the walkers and then the walkers in pink tutus with heart-shaped deely-bopper headbands . . . hmmph . . . I could have done the 10K. I will be there next year! In the meantime who wants to join me for the Navy’s Bay/Bridge Run/Walk?
The preceding blog was written by our Beyond travel correspondent, Amelia a longtime friend and amazing supporter of Denton Dallas and Beyond.