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May 19, 2008

Yesterday was race day, my second time doing the For Women Only 5K. The day before yesterday I learned an important lesson in race preparation: don’t wear new shoes until after the event. I admit this is a rather obvious lesson, and feel dumb for not making a better choice of footwear Saturday morning, but in my defense, I’d worn the shoes in question to work the day before and they felt fine on that first time out, as one might expect of a brand called SoftSpots. Also, I hadn’t planned to stroll around Ypsi in the hour between when my meeting there ended and when I could go pick up my race packet across the street. I’d planned to sit and knit and listen to podcasts, but the weather was fine and I decided to go on a little photo safari and get some exercise in the process instead. I found lots of things to take pictures of, which perhaps distracted me from the hot spots developing on my feet; by the time I sat down to check, blisters had already formed and I was blocks away from my car. I decided putting the shoes back on was better than walking barefoot on hot pavement (if only I’d worn socks like I had the day before). I still had to pick up my race packet, which based on last year I expected to involve navigating more pavement and stairs and a long hallway, so I stopped at KMart and bought some flip flops to put on. Thank goodness the shoe department was pretty close to the cash registers.

Sunday I drove to the race wearing my most comfortable flip flops, blisters protected by various cushion bandages I’d bought after consulting Dr. Google when I got home on Saturday. I put on my double-layer anti-blister socks (figuring maybe they’d help things not get any worse) and running shoes, decided not to change into a long sleeved shirt (it was cooler than last year, but the threatened rain didn’t come), pinned on my number, walked to the race staging area, stretched, went to the bathroom (no line, which surprised me—guess it helped a lot that both buildings had water pressure, unlike last year), and joined the crowd at the start. (I did not put on lip balm, since I’d forgotten my purse at home. Oops.) It was a bit chaotic; there was no indication where to line up based on expected pace, which I guess makes sense for a race that attracts a lot of first timers who probably have no idea what to expect. Like last year, I got a little teary-eyed at the start, maybe because I wish I’d had friends and coaches to run with when I was a girl (there were 393 finishers in the 1-13 age group), but I got over it a lot quicker this time and focused on getting around the walkers and slower runners as politely as I could (next year, I’m lining up earlier so I can be a bit closer to the starting line). I stuck to my race plan with the exception of two very short walk breaks that weren’t on the program and crossed the finish line 37:31 after I started (I made sure to hit the starting line pad this year), which means I met my goal. That’s actually the second fastest 5K I’ve ever done, so I’m feeling encouraged.

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