Race Report – Decker 2015, The actual report   Leave a comment

Alright, so you’re all caught up about how this race ended up being an event instead of a race. Cool, now I can tell you about the BEST WALKING RACE EXPERIENCE EVER EVER EVER!!! When I started on this whole racing journey a gabazillion years ago, I walked everything. I walked triathlons, I walked marathons, I walked 5ks; it didn’t matter the distance, I walked. Anyone who has walked a race will all tell you the same thing… It’s fucking hard. And I don’t just mean that it is physically difficult to be out there for HOURS on end, which – don’t get me wrong – it is, but there is no support for walkers at most races. We come in sometimes hours behind the winners, we cause the race course to be open for longer, for volunteers to stick around long past they wish they had gone home, and for race directors to make arrangements for there to still be food and water at the finish line (which there rarely is for the last person.) In short, we are the red-headed stepchildren of the racing circuit. When I started running, then speeding up, then getting to the middle or front of the pack, I can’t say that I wasn’t happy to be in a more accepted group of athletes, because it was kind of a relief. So THIS is what it’s like to be a part of the in-crowd! Huh! I never knew! Anyway, even though I have always identified with the back-of-the-packers (or BOPers), I was finally a RUNNER! It was with all the memories of not-so-stellar race experiences as a BOPer that I went into Decker this year, becuase I knew that I was going to be walking the entire half marathon. I think my best time walking a half was abour 3:30, and was…. like… about 8 years ago. I was trying to be all happy and positive and shit; you know, like “YAY!! At least I get to WALK!!” But inside I was kinda dying. It sucked and really made me angry that I was in a situation that was completely out of my control and not able to rock the fuck out of this race like I had anticipated being able to do. Yes, it was a relief to be ableto participate at all, but disappointment is a bitch.

So fast farward to race day morning. It was cold, about 39 degrees, but sunny and clear. I’m glad it was cold that morning.  I had walked a bunch in the sling, but was a little nervous about having it chafe or – worse – get super sweaty and disgusting. I got there early to get in on the team photo with my Tough Cookies and to get a warm-up in. Althouhg, looking back at that, who warms up for a 13.1 mile walk? Old habits, I guess. Getting there early turned out to be a miraculous stroke of luck, though. Decker is run by the Austin Runners’ Club, and it turns out, they have devised a way for walkers and BOPers to feel included in the race. They let anyone who felt like they would have a hard time making the time cutoff start 30 minutes early. I was in line for the bathroom when I heard that, and was like, oh fuck this, I’m heading out! So 2 of my fellow BOPers and I hoofed it to the start line and asked if we could hop in on that 30 min early start time. The time keeper took down our numbers, and we headed out. My 2 companions started their running, and I started walking, and we were OFF like a herd of turtles! At that time, I just thought it was a cool idea to have the walkers/BOPers start early, but I had NO IDEA HOW COOL it was really going to be.

  
The first couple of miles was pretty uneventful… Just me and the black ribbon of road ahead of me stretching out into the distance. The biggest event was that I got to a portapotty and didn’t have to wait in line. THAT makes starting early even better! While in that first 2-ish miles, I started thinking about it… The runners would start at 8, which was 30 minutes after us. I walk about a 15-minute mile, and the fastest of the runners will be averaging something close to lightspeed. I figured that I would get a chance to see the top runners around 2.5 or so. I was just about to the 2.5 mile tick when I heard the pace truck behind me. I look back, and here they come. Runners so fucking fast that they are being paced by a goddamn truck. Runners that make their 5 min/mile pace look smooth and easy. Runners that are fucking GODS by my standards. The first and second guys came and passed me, and I’m pretty sure that I felt a gust of wind as they did so.

   
 It was amazing. But that was about all I had thought was going to happen. In my slightly distracted mental state, it didn’t dawn on me that, by starting 30 minutes early and walking, I was going to get passed by everyone. Friends, strangers, fast runners, slow runners, teammates, you name it. After that first group of speedsters whooshed past me, the slow and steady stream of people started passing me. It was amazing. It was inspiring. It was a fucking blast. I’ve been racing in this town for YEARS, and am pretty well-known on the circuit. I am pretty sure that every minute or two, someone I knew passed me. I got lots of “low fives” (sling version of high five… I made it a thing while in the sling), cheers, a few cat calls, and hugs. I took selfies with EVERYONE! I was trying to take photos with people as they passed me, making goofy faces, whatever. By starting 30 minutes, I spent the entire race course (minus those first 2 miles) with people. It was so fucking heart-warming that I kinda want to walk Decker again! I am sure that ARC was thinking about the logistics of having people on the race course for later in the day, and that was their reasoning for letting us slowpokes start early, but the impact on the EXPERIENCE that us BOPers had was a world of difference from the usual “you’re all alone in the universe, no one cares about you, we are running out of water on the course, oh and maybe the finish line is gone when you get there” experience.

So thank you, ARC. For thinking of us BOPers and letting us start a bit early. It was a phenomenally inclusive event that gave even the BOPers a great race!

Now enjoy some obnoxious photos 🙂 

    
    
   

Posted January 29, 2016 by CC in Uncategorized

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