Reflections on My 5K Experience

One week ago today, I completed my first official 5K race. (Hey, that almost rhymes!) Having never watched, let alone participated in, such an event, I had no idea what it would be like. I can sum it up in two words: organized chaos.

When I first arrived at the race, participants were herded between two large chainlink fences that bore a striking resemblance to a corral. Amazingly enough, not a single person said, "Moo!" The thousands of participants (yes, thousands--my bib number was 5210, and I saw bibs numbered into the 10,000s) were funnelled to the start line and set loose on the course in three different groups. I was supposed to be in group 3, but somehow ended up actually crossing the start line with group 1. Did I mention it was organized chaos?

The course covered one of my most favorite places in Southern California: Dana Point Harbor. I once lived down the street from the Harbor and brought Benji to walk there as often as I could. This time, though, I didn't slow down to enjoy the view. The only view I wanted to see was the finish line.

The entire course took me about 56 minutes to complete, a little longer than my treadmill 5K's but shorter than I expected for this race. I was passed by hordes of runners (more about them later) but held my own among the walkers.

By the time I finished the race, I'd realized a few things. This is what I learned:
  • 5K feels like a much longer distance on pavement than it does on a treadmill. (Yes, I know mathematically it's the exact same distance.)
  • Some very strange people participate in 5K races. There were dozens of people wearing rubber turkeys on their heads, a few in the traditional Thanksgiving politically-incorrect garb of Pilgrims and Indians, one hot dog running alongside a ketchup bottle and mustard bottle, and Santa with his reindeer--complete with jingly bells.
  • Runners are snobs. While waiting in the corral to start the race, I heard a runner behind me making fun of people who walk the distance. Other runners who sped past me during the race often bumped me as they ran by. How about an "excuse me" or an "on the left!"?
I haven't decided yet if I'm going to run another 5K soon, or ever. The most important lesson of this experience is that I now know for sure that I can do it. I even have the pictures to prove it!