On Sunday my husband and I woke up early and headed up to Hunt Valley for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k. We had run this race together in 2008 back when I was just getting into running and I was curious to see how much time I could take off my finish after two years of training. That comparison will have to hold out for another year however, because the hubs had other ideas.
Kirk, you see, is not a runner. In fact, he detests it. And we’re not talking a love/hate relationship here either. This guy has pure hatred for the sport. He bitches, he moans, he curses and is genuinely pissed off whenever I coerce him into joining me on a run–which is next to never. His antics are, however, highly amusing for me, so I do try and persuade him often.
For whatever reason, he decided to join me for this event with little to no pleading. He came to me with two goals: one, beat his 2008 time (he thought this was 35min but when I looked it up the morning of the race it was actually 31:28 — he chose to stick with the original figure though since it was considerably more in his favor!), and two, run the whole thing. The thing is, he hadn’t trained at all for the race and he needed my help to accomplish this (unlike 2008 when he was half-attempting the Couch to 5k Plan – an endevor that lasted just long enough to see him through two 5ks and then safely back to the couch).
Part of why Kirk hates running is because he gets bored plodding along at a slower pace. To make things interesting he tries to sprint and, as I’m sure you all can guess, he tires himself out early in the game. Since he only runs like twice a year and hasn’t built up his endurance, his body simply can’t maintain this fast pace for long — just don’t try telling him that.
Enter moi, pacer extraordinaire.
Kirk told me he wanted to run at around an 11 minute pace and asked me to help keep him there. I didn’t tell him this, but I knew he could do it faster than that so I had planned on keeping him closer to 10:20. Shhh.
When we first set off, the 30,000 other runners made reaching that pace just a little difficult. We were actually running in place at some points (Well, I was. Kirk just stood still grinning like he had won the lottery) and climbing over people at others. Somehow we managed to make up some time in the second half of the first mile and ended up with a split time of 10:52. Honestly, I don’t think I could have made it through the crowd any faster than this. I made a mental note that when and if I do try to PR on this course, to start as close to the front as I can get.
Mile 2 had the first hill, but the crowd started to thin as we maneuvered past some of the walkers. Since I wasn’t running for time, I had fun weaving in and out of people, but Kirk was getting frustrated with all the stopping and starting as it took more effort. He later told me this was his hardest mile — I thought he did really well though and our second mile was 10:43.
Mile 3 seemed like the hardest. There was a little girl that darted out in front of me and I got scared that he was going to trip over her and go sprawling. I yelped at her (Yes, yelped. I try not to scream curses at small children even if I sometimes think they asked for it), which probably made things worse because she got scared and stopped — directly in front of Kirk. At least my yell alerted him because he was able to keep from sending her flying, but the effort to start back up again nearly did him in.
A few hundred yards after the incident with the little girl he told me he needed to stop. I could literally see the finish line at this point and there was no way in hell I was going to let him quit. I checked my watch and saw that we were running a sub-10:00 mile (I’d given him the reins in the last mile and when he sped up I figured that if he had the energy he should go for it!). I told him we could slow down, but that we were not going to stop. He did exactly what I expected him to do with a challenge like that: he forged on and finished that final mile in 9:55. Our final time was 32:27. Booyah.
I could not have been more proud of my guy at that moment. Not only did he not complain the ENTIRE TIME, but he ran the full thing even though I could tell he was incredibly uncomfortable. Kirk isn’t a quitter, but he also doesn’t usually embark on quests he’s not really interested in. He ran this race for me. He ran a 5k to show me that he understands all that I’ve taken on with my training these last few months. He ran 3.1 miles to show me that he truly gets how hard it is. He did this to show me that he could do anything he put his mind to — even if it is something as stupid and boring as running.
Not that I ever doubted it.