Column: Step by step, turning to running as part of a quest for fitness shows camaraderie

Version 2


KEMPSVILLE — After ignoring warnings from my doctor about my annual weight gain, I resolved this year to reverse the momentum. 

I now visit the gym as part of each workday.

Well, most work days.

My workouts may seem meager – usually 30 minutes of some form of cardio – but I have gotten a real lift from them. I feel better. I’ve even embraced drinking water regularly over other drinks.  

A friend suggested I sign up for a 5K run.

I laughed. I am not a runner, and I would not want my huffing, plodding gait to diminish a race.  But the idea grew on me, and I agreed to run a race after reassurance that I would not be alone in my newbie status.

It appealed to me to use a race as a milestone to test my progress. 

First, I had to figure out how far 5 kilometers is. It is 3.1 miles. Then I had to test the distance on the treadmill at the gym. 

I huffed through it in just about 40 minutes. The distance was definitely more than I was used to, but it seemed doable.  

The race took place on Thursday, May 5, a rainy evening in downtown Norfolk.  It was called the Corporate 5K, organized by J&A Racing. Signing up was easy, and you could participate as an individual or as a team.  

I paid a $30 registration fee. The fee included a t-shirt, race bib, a post-race snack and two beers. I have paid more for just a shirt.

I discovered it takes an army to manage a race.

There was race staff everywhere with every kind of job: check-in staff, hold-your-bag staff, line-up-here staff, stay-on-the-course staff, security staff, turn-here-staff, medical staff, hand-out-banana staff, hand-out-water staff, hand-out-medals staff, check-your-time staff, and a-lot-of-encouragement staff.  

When we lined up to start, it did not feel like a competition. It felt like a parade.

One woman dressed as Minnie Mouse. Some runners wore tutus. There were moms with strollers. Everyone was energized and encouraging.  

Races start in groups, organized by your expected speed. I had no idea what my pace would be. I decided to linger in the last group. 

What my group lacked in speed, they made up for in enthusiasm. People turned out to cheer as we ran past, despite the poor weather.

They held up a signs and rang bells.

“Only 5,280 steps to go!” one sign read.

I embraced the encouragement. I needed it. A 5K on cement, in the rain is much harder than on a treadmill in the gym.  

The finish line was placed at home plate at Harbor Park.

I managed to run the last stretch from the outfield.  A crowd cheered for every runner as an announcer read off their name when they crossed the finish line. I was surprised by how much I had enjoyed myself.   

I left the course, headed for a beer. The skies opened up full force, and the remaining crowd began to head for their cars. I stood there wet, drained, smiling.  

Next up is Global Running Day on Wednesday, June 1, when more than 1.3 million people in 143 countries have pledged to run. I plan to participate in the fun run starting at Murphy’s Virginia Beach on Pacific Avenue. 

Maybe I’ll see you out there.

The Global Running Day Celebration is at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 1, at Murphy’s Virginia Beach, 2914 Pacific Avenue. Visit jandaracing.com for information or find the event on Facebook.

Adam Jones works in the information technology field and lives with his family in Kempsville. Reach him a toxicatom@yahoo.com.

© 2016 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC



The Independent News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *