I had a break of a few weeks between races, with the Youth Ranch Marathon now history and April’s races yet to come, so I decided to go ahead and sign up for the local March of Dimes WalkAmerica fundraising 8.6 mile walk. It was easy to sign up as an individual walker (in the previous years I had completed this race, I had been part of our employees association team but that group was no longer participating), so I joined, made my contribution, and planned for the race to be a long training walk. Since the route passes right by my street about 3/4 of the way throughout the walk, traffic would be blocked and it would be hard to get anywhere by car, so it was a good decision, And since it is not really a race and would have several thousand participants, I did not have to worry about time limits or getting lost.
Up early, had my usual pre-race bread and coffee, and dressed, leaving the house around 6:30 am for a 2 mile warm up walk to Westside Park, the starting point of the walk. Once I arrived, I sought out the portapotties, picked up my race guide (which had a map and space for the aid station folks to mark that I had dutifully shown up at each spot), and then spent the next hour or so people and dog watching and listening to a local high school band and recorded music and announcements.
About 25 runners (who were really going to run) began the actual race, starting a few minutes past the official 8 am time; they were followed by the March of Dimes ‘heroes’ – children (along with their parents) who had been helped by the March of Dimes organization, and, finally, the rest of us. I quickly eased my way to the front so I could attain a brisk walking speed, about 13-14 minutes a mile (but I wasn’t really paying much attention to speed, just desiring a good workout). I wore my little Myrtle Beach cloth backpack so I could slip all the goodies given out by the aid stations into it without filling my pockets too much – there were granola bars, candy, bandaids, frisbies, pastries, and more. My favorite stop was the one just after the ‘hill’ going up to 13th Street – I was treated to BlueBell real fruit bars. By that time, it was close to 80 degrees and the cold juice bar tasted sublime.
As I passed the street by my house, I made a pit stop and unloaded my treasures, left my backpack and jacket there, and completed the final 2 miles back to the Park. A choice of lunch options awaited me there from various restaurants around town, but since it was only about 10 in the am, I chose a sub sandwich and chips to eat later and worked my way the 2 miles back to my house. Of course, at that point I was heading in the ‘wrong’ direction, making my way through the throngs of people who were still trying to finish. I got lots of amusing looks and comments to which I just smiled and shrugged, responding that ‘the story of my life, always going in the opposite direction from most people’ -which is probably true (LOL).
Back home, I checked my trusty little Omron pedometer and found that I had walked about 14 miles, just over a half marathon. To increase that mileage a bit, I added a 3 mile walk to the local post office plus a walk around my neighborhood with my dog Tex – coming up with a total of about 20 miles for that Saturday. For the past few years, I have been out of town for WalkAmerica and I had forgotten what a pleasant experience it was to take part in it.