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Debbie's Digest: Bucket list pared down by one now

I keep a bucket list in the back of my mind and on the list is to walk a 5K. Marathons and half-marathons have been the trend for a number of years and I know lots of people who participate in the sport, however, it is one event you won't see me in.

I keep a bucket list in the back of my mind and on the list is to walk a 5K.

Marathons and half-marathons have been the trend for a number of years and I know lots of people who participate in the sport, however, it is one event you won’t see me in. My philosophy on voluntary running, really any kind of running, is that unless being chased by a bear, or other potential man- or woman-eating animal, there really is no point.

I simply don’t run unless in an emergency. I have been known to increase my pace dramatically when chasing my grandson as he heads for the street or some other perceived danger, but I wouldn’t call it running.

As a child, running was almost always the preferred way to get from point A to point B, but as life progressed, and joints and muscles began complaining, running became less important.

But with an increase in the number of people running marathons, and the offering of 5Ks, I thought, hey, I could do that, and added it to my bucket list.

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So when a friend called last Thursday and asked if I wanted to do a 5K for Ashby’s Appreciation Days, I hardly stopped to think about it – Of course I would be interested.

She texted me shortly after our conversation to say we were going to be the “back of the pack tortoise” group. I was definitely on board with no pressure to “win” or better my personal best time. We were going to leisurely meander the route, a little more than 3 miles long.

A second text did give me slight pause: there was a hill, but it was at the beginning, then it was smooth walking on a flat path. Well, I could probably do one hill…I’m still in, I assured her in my reply text.

Still a third text promised full disclosure: there were two hills. A slightly longer pause as I considered the ramifications of a second hill. OK, still in, I replied.

After a fourth text to set up a time and place to meet, and the size of T-shirt I wanted, all was set.

Saturday morning was glorious, and in my mind, perfect for a nearly 3-mile stroll. Lots of people milled about, awaiting the start of the run and 5K walk. Four of us comprised the tortoise team and I knew the time together would be fun. The shot sounded and we were all off.

My friend says I’m “fun-sized” at just over 5-feet tall, and because my legs were shorter than anyone else’s on the team, I was to set the pace. All good.

But my eyes were on that first hill. It was big, really, it kind of resembled Mt. Everest. I concentrated on just getting to the plateau at the top and wondered if the air would be thinner up there. About half way up the hill, the muscles in my calves seized up tight. That pain was to stay with me for the remaining 3 miles.

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I had multiple opportunities to get a ride up the hill, as well as the second one, but I am a mule about things, and refused to cave, though it was so tempting.

My team was quickly left in the dust as the other walkers moved farther and farther head of us. Soon, we couldn’t see any of them.

A patrolman on a motorcycle followed us, to ensure our safety while on the highway, and kept stopping to put some distance between us. He followed us most of the way. I felt a little guilty at our slow pace, but with my calf muscles screaming I knew I couldn’t pick up the pace.

Turns out there were FIVE hills on the route and I was in great pain the entire walk. It seems one should do a little pre-training prior to walking three miles.

Later, a hot bath and muscle massage was required, and my calf muscles eventually unclenched, allowing for a more normal - and painless - gait.

Sharing my experience with a different friend, I asked her to shoot me if I ever suggested participating in another 5K walk, hills or no hills.

But now that all is back to normal, I think I would do it again, with some pre-walk preparation. It really might have been a pleasant experience if my muscles were a little more experienced.

Still, I crossed the 5K off my bucket list.

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