Editor’s note: Savannah King and J.K. Devine trained and participated in the Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce Chamber Chase. The following are their separate accounts.
I think I may have a long-ignored competitive side.
Not so much in competition against other people, but with myself.
For the past several months, my editor, J.K. Devine, and I have been challenging each other to try different exercise classes and programs. I’ve had some rewarding experiences in classes such as yoga and Zumba, but life gets in the way, and I don’t make it back to class as often as I should.
Plus, I’m a deadline-oriented person. While that may be a good trait in my line of work, it can turn into procrastination when no deadline is present and the only person counting on me is, well, me.
So when registration opened for the seventh annual Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce Chamber Chase two months ago, I thought it sounded like a fun way to challenge myself. I’ve run a few 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) races in the past and know it takes a few weeks to build up enough endurance to complete the course.
It’s been about five years since I’ve jogged with any regularity, so I definitely needed to train before the event.
I intended to start training eight weeks before the race with a training schedule I found online. But I just didn’t get around to it until I realized the March 27th event was fast approaching. So 3« weeks before the event, I threw my training schedule away and downloaded a running app on my phone that measures distance, time and speed.
The first week I ran as much as I could for 1« miles and walked when I needed to. The second week I amped up my effort and went for two miles. The third week my aim was three miles.
When the big day finally arrived, I felt ready.
After pinning my racing bib onto my shirt and lining up at the starting line outside of Riverside Military Academy, I took a moment to check out my competition — an earlier version of me.
I looked back on where I’d started weeks before — doubled over gasping for air after a mile jog — and gave myself a mental pat on the back. I’d worked hard to get here.
When the flag dropped, I took an easy pace and pushed through the burn in my calves.
I ran a mile and stopped to catch my breath for a quick moment before picking up the pace again.
When I caught sight of my son and mother cheering me on from the side of the road, I pushed a little harder.
I distracted myself from the burn in my lungs and muscles by making a game of catching up to the person in front of me. I worked until I approached one man who seemed to be playing the same game. He won.
It was hard. It hurt. But after 32 minutes and 17 seconds, I crossed the finish line.
I was pleased with my time, but I immediately began to wonder how I could do better for my next race.
And there will be a next race.
“How about we run a 5K?”
Those were the words out of Savannah King’s mouth. I looked at her with a mix of surprise, incredulity and humor.
“Running? Me?” I thought. “I don’t run.”
The only time I ran was when I played sports in high school, which involved sprinting. Running is not in my repertoire.
However, King’s enthusiasm was infectious. I counteroffered.
“How about I walk it?”
She nodded, pointing out the two exercise regimes could inform readers. I couldn’t agree more, since a lot of people are like me and believe running or jogging for 3 miles is daunting. Walking, though, is possible.
King sent me a link from SparkPeople.com. It supplied an exercise regime to train for walking a 5K. The program seemed simple. I would walk every other day, increasing my distance and time.
I started training five weeks before the 5K Chamber Chase. As luck would have it, the weather was warm and daylight saving time was near. I would walk the Brenau mile since I live about a block off the private university’s campus.
Training started off well. I called friends, making time fly. Plus, I walked a friend’s dog, making exercise a necessity.
Then something happened. I developed a sore throat, then a cough followed by a runny nose. The common cold struck and walking ended.
I didn’t walk for two weeks. And when I felt better, a cold front kept me indoors.
But I was positive I could still walk the 5K.
On race day, I was apprehensive. Everyone else appeared to be running it. But when the flag dropped, others were walking.
I started walking to the tune “Whistle While You Work” to keep a steady pace. But I slowed as I started up a slight incline near the American Legion off Riverside Drive.
By the time I looped around, I was thirsty. Luckily, an area ambulance service supplied me with water.
After taking a few swigs, I was rejuvenated. Then I got a blast of confidence. I saw the people participating in the 2-mile wellness walk. But me, I was walking the full 5K.
However, the boost of self-esteem was short-lived. During my loop around Riverside Military Academy’s campus, children between the ages of 8 and 12 ran past me. They were on their second loop. I was on my first.
They did make me laugh, however.
“Are we almost there?” one of the boys asked.
“Yes!” the father replied.
“Will there be pizza, too?”
“Yes!” the parent said.
I laughed and chugged along.
I crossed the finish line at 51 minutes. Not too shabby for a sedentary person.
The only bad part about finishing was I had to walk back up the hill to my car. Next time — and I think there may be a next time — I’m parking closer to the finish line.