Blog: Walk for Life

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Walk for Life - Saturday, March 4, 2023
Every year, our church participates in the RealOptions Walk for Life. It's a great way to raise money to support a faith-based pregnancy resource center, and to push one another to exercise!

The event is held annually at Martial Cottle Park in San Jose, and participants can either walk 2.4 miles or run a 5k. In addition to this year, I've participated in 2018 and 2020. Naturally, I sign up for the run. Priscilla prefers to walk with church friends. We had 15 registrations from our church this year, with 10 of those being families. Our church has gotten big, and we had a large turnout today. A lot of the kids are starting to get to the age where they're able to run a 5k, and we have some fast kids!

The primary goal of the Walk for Life is to fundraise for RealOptions. With over $16,000 raised, our church placed 3rd out of all groups signed up for the event. I don't like asking people for money, so Priscilla and I just donated $400 to ourselves (and more to others). But we set a goal of $1,000, recalling that in the past, there were people at church who wanted to support participants. We didn't ask anyone for donations, but 7 people donated to us! Most of the donations were made anonymously, but they were almost certainly from people at church, as the link to join/support our group has been in the church bulletin for the past few weeks. Our last donor gave $25 after the event and brought us to our exact $1,000 goal! Everyone else in our group got at least several donations, and most people got to their fundraising goal. We have a lot of generous people at church.

My training hasn't been ideal. The past several months have felt colder than usual, and there have been so many rainy days, many of them with heavy and prolonged rain. Atmospheric rivers have been dumping so much rain on us that half the state is no longer in a drought. So it's been hard to get outside and run, though that's partly just me making excuses.

During my last training run, I ran a 5k at a 7:01 pace at max effort. I always have a tendency to start too fast, especially when I'm with people and they sprint out of the gate. So for today's race, I knew that I had to start intentionally slower and gradually increase my pace so that I could save some fuel for the latter half. I started almost at the front of the group (64 runners in all), but quickly had 15 or so people sprint past me, many of whom were kids. But one by one, I started passing people as I maintained a mostly constant pace while people started slowing down. 0.5 miles in, I saw one guy stopped on the side of the path catching his breath - he definitely went all in way too soon!

There was one guy who stayed in the lead the whole time, way up ahead, and I knew I had no chance of catching up to him. Trailing him by a fair distance was a pack of three or so guys who seemed to be trying to keep up with each other. I knew I wouldn't be able to catch up to them while maintaining that pace for the whole race, so I let them get a little ahead while making sure I never lost sight of them. Towards the 2 or 2.5 mile point, I increased my pace a bit more and was able to pass two of the guys, who might've also been slowing down. I then hustled to catch up to the third guy, but we both full on sprinted at the end and I crossed the finish line a fraction of a second behind him. Interestingly, though I came in 3rd place by gun time, I came in 2nd place by chip time, and the final results were based on chip time. My official time was 21:31, putting my pace at 6:56. My times in 2018 and 2020 were 23:17 and 21:38, respectively, so it seems like I've improved. The winning time today was 21:09. It really depends on who shows up - in 2018, there were 8 runners with a time under 20 minutes, with the winning time being 18:06!

I guess I do like the competition of racing, but even more, I value self-improvement. I recently read an article about a "totally average runner", close to me in age, who trained until he was able to run a 5-minute mile. That's become a goal of mine, as the necessary progression seems like a worthwhile investment to pursue. It sounds crazy and I know there will be a ton of work involved, but I'm not getting any younger, and late is better than never.

And hopefully all the training will help me get an even better 5k time next year. Anyway, I'm glad that today we were able to have fun and support a good cause. But the work, for all of us, is never done.