Fired up and ready to run (and slide)
Wednesday marked National Runners Day, and I was delighted to celebrate the occasion by joining a small group of runners on the most unique run I've ever experienced.
Throughout my adult life, running has off-and-on served as a source of peace. It's the only space in my life where I'm able to clear my mind for an hour, trading in thoughts of what needs to be done for thoughts of how can I challenge myself to do better -- whether that means achieving a faster pace, running another mile, or, more broadly speaking, at life in general.
I can say that running has significantly improved my life in all aspects, and I'm so happy to have reconnected with my old hobby, which has led me to the opportunity to participate in something very unique and exciting this Saturday.
Dawn Holley, executive director for Bedford County's United Way, invited me earlier this week to partake in the trial run for the upcoming Fired Up 'N Fit adventure 5K run, to be held Saturday morning. I jumped at the opportunity without second thought, honestly thinking, as someone who typically runs solo, it'd be fun to do a group run and fulfill my workout for the day all in one shot.
I knew there would be a little water involved -- maybe a little mud -- but hey, that's fun. A piece of cake. No problem. A trip to the (water) park.
Let's get something straight. The Fired Up 'N Fit is not your average 5K.
It's an "extreme" 5K where you'll do things you haven't done in a very long time.
Adventurous? Yes. It's filled with obstacles across the massive Fire & Codes Academy, including rope swings, hay stacks and tunnels. Calling it adventurous would be an understatement.
Challenging? Yes. Running through fields, water and mud make this run a whole new ball game for anyone used to running on pavement.
Fun? You bet. Where else can you trade in the day's troubles for a chance to be at a place where it's totally appropriate for adults to indulge in a giant Slip 'N Slide?
So far, preliminary numbers reveal I'm not the only person looking for something fun and challenging to do this Saturday. About 500 people have pre-registered for the event, and a bunch more are expected to sign up Saturday morning (registration begins at 7 a.m.).
Some of the runners there will be advanced, but my bet is most people there will not be, so don't be afraid or intimidated to accept a new challenge. It's open to all levels of athletes who want to support United Way's message of healthy living.
The adventure run is a combined effort of United Way, local firefighters and the Fire & Codes Academy, and I would be remiss if I didn't give kudos to the Academy for allowing the race to be held on their outstanding facility. As I was running in the trial Wednesday I thought to myself time and time again how lucky we are to have such a facility in Bedford County, and wow, firefighters really train on this course? They must be in really, really good shape.
If you haven't done the race before, let me offer you a few tips:
* First and foremost, whether you're an experienced runner or a first-time jogger, do not get caught up on your speed or time. This race is not meant to yield record-breaking times. It's meant to be fun. It's OK if you need to walk.
The obstacles will slow you down, but on the flip side, they'll also give you a chance to catch your breath. And since you'll be running on grass and mud a lot of the time, you're going to want those opportunities.
* Second, wear old tennis shoes if you have them. I made the mistake of wearing my good shoes Wednesday night and as a result they're currently stuffed with newspapers -- thankfully, I have an endless supply of those -- as I attempt to dry them out before Saturday's race. (I'm due for a new pair that I'll conveniently purchase after Saturday).
* Wear light clothing that won't bother you, pull on you or make you feel uncomfortable when it's wet, because you will be wet. Furthermore, bring an extra set of clothes to change into following the race. I forgot to do this during the trial and it made for a very long drive home.
* Do not plan to carry your phone, iPod or whatever you typically run with unless you want to drop a couple hundred bucks on a new device. Again, the water factor.
* Lastly, relax and plan to have a good time with an incredibly supportive group who will be there cheering you on every step of the way. You'll leave filling like a kid again, I promise.
Check out the Times-Gazette's community calendar on Page 4 for more details about Saturday's Fired Up 'N Fit.
-- Sadie Fowler of Normandy is the editor of the Times-Gazette and may be reached at email@example.com.