Tuesday, October 10, 2006
2006 Embarrassing Moment #2
A few weeks ago, I participated in my first ever 5K Walk/Run during Simpsonville's annual Fall Festival. The t-shirt I received upon completion is a testament to the fact that I finished the race. Thankfully, the t-shirt doesn't say how I did in the race.
Entering the 5K Walk/Run was a lark. Several co-workers and students had encouraged me to enter, knowing full well that I'm not an athlete by any stretch. Truthfully, most thought I would never actually show up the morning of the race, especially since the sign-in time was 7:30 a.m., and I'm definitely NOT a morning person.
Well, I surprised everyone by showing up at the starting line. Encouraging hugs from co-workers and students boosted my self-esteem. While folks around me did warm-up stretches, I looked around uneasily trying to figure out how far 5K really is. One of my students announced loudly, "Don't worry Mrs. Mansfield, we'll send an ambulance for you!"
The starting call sent approximately 50 runners, joggers, and walkers on their way. Within three seconds I was far behind. Even the walkers were moving as fast as the runners in the front ranks! Pretty soon I couldn't even see the closest participants. As I passed by the home of one of the families from my school, I hollered out, "I'm afraid to turn around to see if I'm the last one!" They hollered back, "You are!" Then they proudly cheered me on, yelling "Way to go Mrs. Mansfield!"
At every turn of the route, race officials and sheriff's deputies radioed that "the lady in the gray shirt is making the turn." That was the signal to open up that part of the route for traffic. The midway water break was shutting down by the time I meandered towards it. I yelled, "Wait for me! I need water, too! I'm in the race!" They saved a cup of water for me.
As I approached the final hill, I couldn't see anyone at the finish line. I knew the others had long passed the final mark and were enjoying the free biscuit and gravy breakfast provided to all runners. Suddenly one of my students ran down the hill and started shouting, "You can do it Mrs. Mansfield! Just a little ways more. I'll run with you!" I panted back, "I AM running." Of course my slow, laborious walk didn't look much like running. I couldn't believe my student would help run me in for the final stretch. I huffed and puffed as I asked, "Did everyone else already finish?" "Yep. A long time ago," he smiled.
A finish line never looked so good. I completed the race in 50 minutes. Dead last. I was so proud. Not one ambulance had to be called. And I got a t-shirt.