Column: So this is how Olympians feelIt took a few minutes to set in, but once I realized I had run the River City Ramble 5K and was still alive to write about it a smile stretched across my face that rivaled those of gold medal Olympians.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
It took a few minutes to set in, but once I realized I had run the River City Ramble 5K and was still alive to write about it a smile stretched across my face that rivaled those of gold medal Olympians.
The distance of a 5K is 3.1 miles. Prior to the Ramble, I had never run anything in my life farther than one mile. But just as I was roped into doing a Polar Plunge earlier this year by Red Wing Police Chief Tim Sletten, I was also coaxed into running the Ramble.
Truth be told, completing a 5K has always been on my personal bucket list anyway, so taking Tim up on the challenge back in May was not terribly scary.
Unfortunately, as the weeks went by and summer slipped away from me, the fear set in. I hadn’t been as strict with training as I should have been so I knew the Ramble would be more difficult than expected.
There were some weeks that I ran three separate times, others not at all. By Thursday last week, just two days before the event, I went jogging with a friend and made it only one mile before I was ready to collapse. That single incident caused me to lose all hope. I assumed there was simply no way I could complete a race more than three miles long if I hadn’t made it past the one-mile mark on fairly flat terrain.
But somehow I got lucky and the stars aligned on Saturday morning. I woke up to cool temperatures and cloudy skies, which were a couple of factors I was praying for the night before. Hot and humid conditions would not have been appreciated.
With the weather cooperating, all I needed to worry about was completing the Ramble. Although it would have been nice to surpass Tim and take home the glory, I knew he would be done well ahead of me.
My only goal for the event was to finish it without walking. That’s 3.1 miles of running without a break. Some people can run that distance in their sleep and still have 12 more miles left in them, but for me, 3.1 miles was a big deal.
My boyfriend, Ryan, ran right alongside me the entire way. He’s completed many 5Ks in his time and could have easily surpassed me, but he slowed his pace so I wouldn’t be left in the dust.
For the first several hundred yards I was running on adrenaline and had confidence that I could finish the race with ease. Shortly thereafter, however, that confidence was shattered as I watched runner after runner make their way past me — Tim being one of them.
Ryan and I maintained our pace and eventually came up on the one-mile mark. I was already wishing the race was over, and it only got worse from there.
The second mile was the lowest of the low. Although seeing picturesque Red Wing from Grandview Avenue was nothing to complain about, the lack of air left in my lungs certainly was. The third mile couldn’t come soon enough.
By the end, it was just like the infamous race between United States Olympian Michael Phelps and Serbian Olympian Milorad Cavic, sans the swimming.
The downside — I was Cavic.
For about the last two miles of the route, a young girl had been trading off with me for the lead — the lead between the two of us, that is. We were nowhere near leading the race.
Anyway, she would be about 50 feet ahead of me, stop to walk and eventually end up behind me. But, of course, anytime I jogged past her she would quit walking and run again.
Finally, as I approached the last leg of the race and the chute was in sight, I took the opportunity to sprint. What kind of a 23-year-old wants to lose a race to some little girl?
Despite hardly being able to feel my legs, I picked up the pace with my sights set on the finish line. Seconds later I could hear the stomping of a kid’s feet, knowing quite well that she wasn’t about to watch me cross the line ahead of her.
Lucky for her, she didn’t have to. Not only did the 9-year-old catch up to me, but she passed me at the very end.
I was pretty disappointed, but I guess you win some and you lose some.
Thankfully, I reached the only goal I set out to achieve — completing the Ramble without walking. It was something I wouldn’t have likely accomplished without so many different people in my corner:
• Jo Seton, who was the Mickey Goldmill to my Rocky Balboa.
• A few of my coworkers — Anne Jacobson, Carolyn Bray and Mary Ellen Robertson — who made up my fan club as they stood on the curb along the Ramble route.
• Tim, who encouraged me to take part in the event as he used his persuasive tone to put me up to the challenge.
• And last but certainly not least, Ryan, who I can’t say enough about. He kept me thinking positively, made me laugh to take my mind off of running and encouraged me not to walk when I was just about ready to give in.
It was nice to cross something off my bucket list and accomplish a long-standing goal all in one fell swoop. And while the River City Ramble isn’t exactly comparable to an Olympic event, for me, it felt just as golden.