My workout buddy, Chris, and I signed up for the annual “See Jane Run” held at Washington Park last Saturday. It was my fourth 5k and my second on this blessedly flat island. Last year I planned to walk the course but due to a deadly combination of unfamiliar adrenalin and contagious enthusiasm, I ran most of the 3.1 miles. I beat my goal time by a full five minutes and was justifiably proud.
And I could barely move for a week. All I can say is thank heaven for Ibuprofen.
So this year I promised every muscle in my middle-aged body that I would be more prudent. Chris said we would train together, following a regimen to gradually increase our speed from a fast walk until we could run the full loop.
Long story short, after a few workouts we abandoned our training schedule. But as she pointed out when I started beating myself up about it, we were golden to be there at all. It would have been so easy to duck back under the comfy covers that morning.
Although I live just a few blocks from the park, I asked my daughter, Emily, to give us a ride. (No sense walking farther than necessary, right? Plus, I needed to conserve every bit of stamina for the race.) When we offered a lift to a Danville woman who had to park several blocks away, I realized that I take Alameda for granted. She came a long way for a 5k.
I would never sign up for a race in Danville. You can be pretty darned sure that any athletic event in Contra Costa would involve hot weather and hills. As a native San Franciscan I might agree to hills, but never to hot weather. Fog is my friend.
And it’s a good thing, because it was foggy. We stood in long lines in the cold morning air to pick up our race bibs, bouncing up and down to the music from the loudspeakers to keep warm. With a couple of thousand people in Washington Park yet very few familiar faces, it was reassuring to have a good friend by my side. There were athletes everywhere — younger, toned bodies bending and stretching. I told Chris I was intimidated by the crowd. They made me feel old and out of shape, which isn’t a good mindset at the beginning of any athletic event.
She said, “Alice — What would you do to someone who was talking to one of your daughters that way?” Point taken, Chris. I know the importance of watching your inner critic, but that inner mean girl shows up on a regular basis in spite of myself.
When our friend Jan and the rest of the half-marathoners took off at 8 a.m., I felt a bit better. Although there were still plenty of strong, lean younger women left, there were many more closer to my age and/or body type than I realized.
The 5k started at 8:30 a.m. and we headed through the gate together. As we turned onto Shoreline, we noticed a woman rushing toward us, hollering for us to get the heck off the bike path. I said, “What is it with some people who just want to be in charge and tell other people what to do?”
Turns out she was in charge. Turns out we were smack dab in the path of runners who were already on their way to the finish line. (Go figure…) Next time I’ll know better. I am a rule follower, and if I knew we weren’t supposed to be on the bike path, I wouldn’t have been on the bike path. It was probably spelled out on the website somewhere, but reading directions has never been a strong suit for me.
We stayed on the proper section of course for the rest of the race and managed a respectable pace, switching from a walk to a run at every other lamppost. We finished just five minutes behind my previous year’s time and earned silver medals on bright red ribbons — serious “bling!”
(So what if every participant got a medal? When I flashed mine at the little neighborhood girls on Bay Street later, they were suitably impressed. I’ll pay them later.)
Chris and I wandered through the vendor tents on the lawn at Crown Beach while we cooled down, and then called Emily to come fetch us on Portola Avenue. Chris invited me to brunch at the Oakland Yacht Club, where we devoured baby scones and eggs Benedict while gazing out across the Estuary.
I estimated that we earned a measly four Weight Watcher activity credits for the 5k. Don’t ask me to tell you how many points were in the brunch. (And please don’t tell my WW leader I didn’t track it.) When I started to worry about the calorie content of the amazing hollandaise sauce, Chris said, “We could have bailed on the race, Alice, and still have gone to brunch.” I love Chris.
Well, maybe I love Chris. She suggested I should start training to join her for a duathlon in Livermore—- a one-mile run, followed by a 14-mile bike ride, followed by a 5k. Can anyone give me a good deal on a gently used racing bike?
Please say no. I hear it gets hot in Livermore, and we’re getting low on Ibuprofen.
Editor's Note: Lots of photos from Saturday's See Jane run event at https://picasaweb.google.com/113532916945791536140/SeeJaneRun20125