Race for the Arts 5K Run/Walk – 1st Annual

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54 degrees and cloudy,  a perfect day for the inaugural of the Race for The Arts 5K Run/Walk benefiting the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts and Community Center in Decatur, Georgia. The Center sponsors many events from stage plays, musical performances, dance and programs specifically directed towards youth and seniors.  I’ve attended several events there over the last few years and have always been pleased with the programming, facilities and event staff.
 
The Scene
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I arrived at about 7:30 AM for an 8:00 AM start which was perfect for this race.   Upon arrival at the registration area, I was greeted by cheerful volunteers and a DJ who was rocking Justin Timberlake’s Suit and Tie.  Runners and walkers in the registration area mingled, met up with friends, and teammates and of danced to the music.  Shortly before the 8:00 AM start time race participants were rounded up to hear remarks from the Center’s Executive Director David Manuel and Dekalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson, whose district the Center resides in. After remarks we had  great warm-up leader by dancer/choreographer Stepp Stewart, who had great energy and got the crowd pumped up. Following the warm-up we queued up in the start chute, got the signal and hit the road.

 
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The Course
The course was an out and back with some long hills.  From the parking lot, we made a right, proceeded downhill on Rainbow Dr with an immediate uphill and made a right onto Columbia Dr.  The course crossed over I-285, passed Exchange Park, with a turnaround (from my guess) near Springside Run.  The good and the bad about an out and back is that you know what to expect, which in this case was the long up and downhills.  The same ones we just ran, we had to run them again on the way back.  My team was spread out along the course and I ended up running with a lady in an orange shirt.  I didn’t get her name but she was a great pacer and helped me to likely my fastest 5K time ever.
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The Finish and After Party
There were 3 individuals responsible for time and placement.  One running the clock and two determining the finishing place by race number.  All finishers received a shirt, assorted fruit and water and all the typical goodie bag stuff you get these races.  The Diabetes Association was one of the vendors on site and was conducting glucose testing, which is really cool.  Of course there was more partying and an award ceremony.
 
Overall
For an inaugural event the Race for the Arts was a success. The event was organized, started in a timely manner, the event volunteers were cheerful and helpful and the warm-up was probably one of the most fun I’ve ever done. It was announced that there would be another Race for the Arts in the fall and I’d definitely recommend it for those who want a bit of a challenge at a shorter distance.  In terms of improvements I only saw two things that could be tightened up: 1)the course – I saw two cars drive through as the race was taking place, which could be remedied with cones, additional officers and or volunteers and; 2) the finish – additional volunteers or one volunteer with a megaphone may be needed to direct people through the finish line chute, to make sure their placement and time is accurate.  With these small adjustments, this could be a top notch event in the area.
 
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Until next time, see you on the trail.
 
For more information about the Center, please visit their website.
 
 
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The Turtle

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In the 1970s public school children were subjected to something called the presidential physical fitness test. It was a test mostly of strength.  What I remember of the test were three events “the hang” in which you hung from a chin up bar and were timed (for girls), pull-ups for boys, a timed sit up test and a 50 yard dash.  During my final year of elementary school a one mile run was added to the tests.  It was in this mile back in sixth grade, in which the turtle was born. I don’t remember the time exactly but know that I completed that mile in around 12 minutes.

We had to do timed miles again in high school P.E., I didn’t get any faster I continued that 12 minute pace.  When I started running with my dad to maintain my girlish figure, he never timed me.  He was too busy lapping me and it was fine.  Years after, following undergrad and grad school I always timed how long I ran but never did any calculations on minutes per mile because I really didn’t care about it.  I KNEW I was slow.  I just dug the rush and the scenery on the outdoor runs.  Then a funny thing happened.

After moving to Atlanta and continuing to run I decided to enter my first race in 1995. I’m pretty sure I’ve spoken of it here before but as a refresher, the race was the Peachtree Road Race a 10K slog from Buckhhead that ends at Piedmont Park.  When training for this race, time became important.  I did all the recommended training, long runs, hill repeats, intervals on the track.  I was properly geared up as well, but my time still averaged to around 12 minutes per mile for that first race.  The second one was just under 12 and I’ve run many more races between the 5K and 10K distances since then with a few sub 12 but the majority 12 minute miles or slower, sometimes much slower because by 2004 I was walking.

After a four year hiatus I returned to running in 2008. In the last two years I reached turtle-form clocking in the 12s again.  Having come back from a complete stoppage to where I am now gave me the crazy idea that maybe I could get faster.  I started increasing my training, changing my diet and beating on myself for every 12+ minute mile clocked of which the majority of them are.  Then it hit me.  It’s time to OWN THE TURTLE.  At the age of 46 the chances of me getting faster are NONE. My time is true to my genetics.  I’m not a flyweight and when I was I still wasn’t fast.  Fretting over time began to take away from why I really run now and that’s to ease my mind.

Sure fitness is important, especially at my age and with the health challenges that I already have. Yet the biggest thing I get from running is peace of mind.  The mind that is fuzzy at the beginning of a run, is at peace by the end and that is more important to me at this point of my life than anything else.

Until next time see you on the trail, be sure to wave when you pass me 🙂
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