Funny story about the Run Like Hell 5k: When a local Atlanta company announced a race entry giveaway, I thought, Why not, someone’s got to win. I have as good a chance as any! So, I went through their list of requirements: post to Facebook, post to Twitter, post to Instagram—all using their Twitter account name and a hashtag of the race name (because it’s held in a cemetery at Halloween-time), #runlikehell.
Rewind to the day before when I was sitting in a social media meeting at work. I was testing some settings on the company’s Instagram account, and because some of the features weren’t working properly, I didn’t log out as I waited for support from coworkers on fixing the Instagram posting features.
Back to the contest day. The requirement to post to Instagram required a picture of my shoes and the contest hashtag. I posted it, no problem, and thought nothing of it. Nine minutes later, caller ID identified an incoming call as being from the wife of the founder and president of the company for which I work. Still not thinking anything of it, I answered. “Someone called and told me that a picture of some running shoes were posted to the company account—“ I didn’t even need to let her finish. “OH, NO! OH, NO! OH, NO! That’s my picture! I’m so sorry! I’m deleting it now!” Fortunately, she started laughing. And as I had her on the phone, I explained what happened. She was very gracious, but the damage was done to my psyche. I beat myself up for the error the rest of the day.
Now, what made my error especially egregious is that the company I work for is . . . a faith-based non-profit organization. And remember the hashtag? Yeah, it was #runlikehell. I think this now takes top honors as the most embarrassing moment of my life.
- Halfway to the race, I realized I didn’t dress for the weather at all. I checked the weather the day before and remembered a 10 percent chance of rain, but as we drove closer and closer to the race, the harder the rain fell. Plus, it was cold. I didn’t even bring towels or a change of clothes. Note to self: Check the weather on the day of the race.
- Nathan and I arrived at Oakland Cemetery around 8 a.m., and I picked up my number and T-shirt. Groups of runners were standing on and around confederate soldier graves under the huge magnolia trees scattered throughout the property.
- We spent the hour-wait chatting it up with our friends Emily and Mike and their new baby, Lea. All four of us agreed that the sponsors of the race missed an opportunity to bring awareness to their brand had they offered cups of coffee to racers and their families/friends.
- Racers lined up inside the cemetery along its widest of narrow streets. It was a tight fit for everyone, but the field thinned out fairly well due to the uphill start. Once outside the walls of the cemetery, the city streets gave the fast runners an opportunity to pass slow-pokes like me. Side-note: Fortunately, the rain stopped just as the race started.
- After the initial uphill to get out of the cemetery, I was happy to have a lengthy downhill for about a mile and a quarter. But when we turned right to make the loop on the return, I saw what looked to closely resemble a wall. This must be the hell part, I thought as I determined to truck up the steep incline. I’ll confess there were times when my “running” up this particular hill was barely equal to the walkers on the right.
- Speaking of walkers on the right . . . and left . . . and in the middle—you get my drift. Maybe I’m an immature, unseasoned runner, but I haven’t yet been able to let go of the “rule” that walkers stay to the right and runners to the left. Sometimes I’m a walker, and I make a concerted effort to run to the right side before slowing to a walk. That’s just me, and I wish more people would recognize the standard “slower traffic keep right.” I’m sure the sooner I let go of this expectation of others, the sooner I’ll enjoy racing even more. In this race, I felt like it was particularly congested with walkers scattered across the lane. Maybe an announcement at the start of the race would’ve helped. Or again, maybe I should let it go.
- For the first time in my running career, I experienced the elusive and often maligned dust-cropper—that guy or gal who farts as they run. Yes. This person was somewhere in close proximity tooting out a smoke screen that I kept running through, mouth agape, panting for the oxygen my muscles needed.
- The downhill that I enjoyed for nearly a mile and a quarter at the beginning of the race was not enjoyable on the return.
- The last couple of races I’ve participated in have placed the finish line at the end of a significant uphill. Once we returned to the cemetery, many of us questioned where the finish line was located. The uphill seemed to go on for quite a while at about a 10 percent grade.
- At the finish, lanes were created in the narrow passage ways between plots of graves and separated the men and women. Large banners indicated where the genders were to continue running. Upon crossing the finish line, I nearly ran over the lady in front of me as she stopped on the finish line. I believe I scared her as I put my hand heavily on her back to keep from colliding. As we all slowed in the exit lanes, we filled out slips of paper with our names, ages and times to be entered into the age-group awards. I’d prefer a timing tag to this “manual” method, as it doesn’t accurately convey times since it’s impossible for a crowd of 1,500 people to start exactly at the same time. I started probably 60 seconds after the race timer started at the starting line. For serious runners who may have started further back, their times may not be accurately reflected.
- Being a Halloween race, there were plenty of superhero, pop culture and historical figure sightings between the tombstones. The brave raced in their costumes, including Princess Lea, Superman, the Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Frankenstein’s bride. Shout-out to the six pack of Bud Light who walked the route together inside a makeshift cardboard carton! Even the dogs got in on the act. My favorite was a black lab’s costume of a single white stripe down its back.
- My hat is off to the moms running uphill pushing their kids in strollers and passing runners. Wow. You go. Your fitness inspires me.
- Entertainment at Lion Square was fun and energetic. A DJ played standard hits and the cliché choreographed anthems. There was plenty of water and bananas for everyone to refuel.
- I use an iPhone app called Strava to track my runs. My stats for the Run Like Hell 5K 2013 are as follows:
- 3.6 miles (How was I able to add a half mile to my run?)
- 42.42 time (I told you I was a slow runner. The 1.25 uphill on the return didn’t help.)
- Best estimated 2 mile effort (23:16)
- 2nd best estimated 5k effort (36:58)
- 2nd best estimated 1 mile effort (10:57)
- 2nd best estimated 1k effort (6:45)
- Unlike the Peachtree Road Race, I actually did train for this 5K. Weeks ago, I finished—for the gazillionth time—the Ease into 5K app. I’ve been known to slack off after I reach the end of these running programs, but this time I pushed through and continued the 30-minute runs three times a week. My training is in my neighborhood with numerous rolling hills. Because of that training, I wasn’t dissuaded or concerned about the hills of this course. I just took it slow and easy and kept on chugging.
Overall, the Run Like Hell 5K was a lot of fun. Oakland Cemetery is a very family-oriented place and it was clear that the community came out to support this energetic event.
©2013 Jennifer Wilder. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint or publish this content elsewhere, please contact me through this blog.