I went for a walk today.
That's not exactly big news. The temperature was in the 70's this morning -- in other words, a typical spring day in Buffalo (ahem) -- and the sun was out. I'm sure many had the same idea.
For me, it was a step forward. I took part in the Young Life 5K race in Hamburg. It's a nice little race that I've done before; I believe it was sleeting for it a couple of years ago. There is plenty of food and the people are friendly.
The difference here is that this is the first time I've ever walked a race like this. My eye doctor said I was to slowly get back into the exercise business, with an emphasis on slowly. When I asked about running, he said to walk for a while. Then if there are any problems, I should stop walking and start driving to his office. So far, so good, on the eye front, by the way.
The check-in routine before the race was the same, and the joking among competitors was the same. I didn't do any stretching or warm-ups before the big race, and lined up in the very back of the 125-person pack at the starting lineup. I turned on my iPod at that point, and got ready to listen to everyone from Gary Lewis and the Playboys ("This Diamond Ring") to Lou Vega ("Mambo Number Five").
When the order to start came, everyone else took off ... leaving about six people in the back who were starting to stroll. That's a rather odd feeling, something like having a '97 Saturn in a drag racing competition at Lancaster Raceway Park. Vroom.
I tried to walk at a fairly brisk pace, although I had no idea how fast that was. I pulled ahead of the other walkers pretty quickly. A few other racers went from runners to walkers pretty quickly.
The odd part was the ambulance, which I've heard about but never really seen. The medical vehicle usually trails the last person in a race, according to legend. Sure enough, the ambulance was bouncing around the back of the field, pulling ahead of me for a while and then stopping for a bit. I saw no sign of problems.
I did the first mile in 14:20, and got to two miles in 28:25. So my finishing time of 45:16 was at least pretty consistent. I think that checks in at a shade faster than four miles per hour, if my math is good. I didn't take so long that I was late for the food and drink at the postrace party, which is the important part.
I did "defeat" the other walkers in the field, although that may be because I was the only one that thought there was a competition taking place. Maybe that's why I didn't get a trophy for being the fastest walker.
Or, to paraphrase Frank Deford, maybe being the fastest walker is like being the world's tallest midget.