By MARK MAYNARD/ The Independent
Let’s face it: You have to be opportunistic in life. I mean, how many times, if ever, do you have the chance to walk hand in hand with the love of your life down the middle of the road in New York City?
It happened for me on Saturday.
My wife and I participated in the Dash to the Finish Line 5K that wound us smack dab down the middle of downtown New York City and into Central Park.
Notice I said we participated. We didn’t necessarily run, except for a short burst at the start that pretty much did both of us in.
It was my fourth or fifth 5K since May and I’ve come to learn it’s not my calling in life. No sweat (well, much sweat); I’m not necessarily in it to win it.
For Beth, who for the past 27 years has dealt with severe rheumatoid arthritis, this was her first “run” of any distance probably since high school.
She never complains about her RA, but boldly pushes through the pain. There are times when it’s simply too much for her, but you’d never know it.
Beth didn’t sign up for the 5K, but took the place of another runner/walker who couldn’t make the trip with a group of us that traveled to New York City to watch Amy Compston compete in the NYC Marathon on Sunday.
None of us would want any part of racing Amy, who is the face behind the Amy for Africa mission and an elite marathoner (She finished in the top 10 percent of all runners in the NYC Marathon).
Our 5K experiences in New York weren’t really about setting records, (probably a good thing) but about making a memory, and it was a good one. We walked right down the middle of downtown without a yellow cab in sight. We got to be tourists with a bird’s eye view as we passed Radio City Music Hall and many other iconic New York places on our three-mile walk.
Everywhere we looked there was a skyscraper, but here’s what is cool: We did it together from start line to finish line. We talked, we joked, we laughed, we had a blast.
Beth was keeping a surprisingly fast pace early on, but eventually RA pain crept into the balls of her feet and slowed her down. I didn’t mind slowing down a little. That just meant more time for us to share this oh-so-cool memory.
It was Amy who suggested to me that Beth take the place of our missing runner. I mentioned it to Beth and she didn’t hesitate before saying she would do it. (Amy has a way of inspiring people to do things they never thought possible).
Beth walked the 5K cold turkey: no training, no test runs, nothing.
We didn’t set any 5K records, but we did pass about 30 (some of them actually re-passed us) and we weren’t last. As a matter of fact, out of the 7,424 who participated, 70 came in behind us. Eat. Our. Dust.
As we came to the finish line — the same one the marathoners would cross the following day — a group of people screaming like teenagers waiting for rock stars greeted us with cheers from the empty stands. The eight other runners representing AFA had time to watch a full episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” before we finished.
Their cheering was encouraging, although if our feet could have taken it, I’d been willing to take another long lap around New York with the best-looking girl in New York City on my arm.
MARK MAYNARD is president of Amy For Africa