Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I pretend to be a runner for Kerri

On Sunday, my partner, Marge, and I participated in the 8th annual Run 4 Kerri, a 4-mile road race in South Kingstown to benefit a scholarship fund in memory of Kerri Bessette, whose story touched both of us.

I'll put this out there right now: I AM NOT A RUNNER — NEVER HAVE BEEN, NEVER WILL BE. I could easily improve my endurance if I chose to work on it, but as for speed, I am SLOW — ALWAYS HAVE BEEN, ALWAYS WILL BE.

But that said, Marge and I were looking forward to the race, which organizers said had drawn 980 participants on that sunny, muggy morning. Marge, due to a foot problem, had decided to walk the whole thing, and had set a goal for herself of finishing in under an hour. I had no goal, really, other than to jog as much as I could and not completely disgrace myself or end up having to be hauled away in a rescue truck.

We felt a little intimidated as we sat in a line of traffic on Matunuck Beach Road, waiting to get into the parking area before the 9 a.m. race. There were already people in low-numbered bibs running up and down the road, warming up. Warming up? I couldn't imagine it — I would need to save every once of energy for that four miles, which, by the way, would be the longest distance I've ever "run." I've participated in a few 5Ks (3.1 miles), having been goaded into them by friends, but that's been the extent of my running experience.

We managed to find a parking space, register for the race and arrive at the starting line with 10 minutes to spare. A pretty good crowd was assembled, and I wondered what Kerri would think of the turnout she inspired.

We bumped into a friend of ours, Dot Zullo, who is a racewalker (and Rhode to Fitness follower), and chatted briefly with her and did a few obligatory stretches before the gun sounded. And then we were off!

Dot walks so fast that I decided she would be a good pacesetter for me, even though I was jogging. I managed to keep Dot in sight until a little past the two-mile mark when suddenly — voilĂ ! — I turned into Gumby. So I stopped jogging and began walking, using the break to take some photos along the way. After all, I knew you'd want photos, too!

By now the sun was beating down on us pretty ferociously, and even though the course looped past Matunuck Beach, there was no cooling ocean breeze on this day.

I never saw Dot again until the finish area, and for the rest of the distance I alternated between jogging and walking. I just had fun with it, and enjoyed the banter of the other runners and the neighborhood residents who sat on their front lawns ringing cowbells, shouting encouragement and directing their sprinklers onto the street for our benefit.

I ramped it up a little as I neared the finish, so that I could at least look like a runner, even though the clock revealed me as a fraud. As I entered the finish corral, I ran past a man who was lying on the ground being tended to, ice packs on one knee and an arm. I don't know what happened to him, but I didn't get the impression it was terribly serious, even though the rescue had been summoned. I was thankful that it wasn't me.

I crossed the finish line in 44 minutes and 27 seconds, four minutes and 27 seconds behind Dot. Marge (at bottom right, looking strong and happy at the end) met her goal by finishing in 58:50. We all felt a feeling of accomplishment, although probably nothing compared with what Patrick Tarpy of Providence must have been feeling. He finished first with a time of 19:23.

I was even more excited when I found out that my bib number had been drawn in a raffle. I lined up to collect my prize, watching as those ahead of me got such things as gift certificates to restaurants and theater tickets. So what did I win? A $15 gift certificate toward the purchase of a medical ID bracelet or necklace. Ha! Were they trying to tell me something?

And one last little indignity. Later that day I went to check the results on the Cool Running Web site and couldn't find my name. That's because I was listed as Kathy Farmous. I had to laugh. But I did finish 17th out of 55 in my division, so maybe there's a little hope for me after all.

I have to admit, as Marge and I drove away at the end of the race, we were already talking about "the next one."


  1. I participated in my one and only "race" years ago in the downtown 5K. Okay, I actually walked, but it was fun. There were lots of walkers, including some very determined power walkers. My goal was to beat the women behind me who were pushing their kids in strollers - and I did! And I even jogged across the finish line. It was a little discouraging, though, to have the runners whiz by and realize they were all finished while I still had another half hour to go!

  2. Yeah, Esther, the energy is contagious, isn't it? And I love those people who circle back around the course just to cool down, while you're still trying to finish in the first place!

  3. Hey Kathy, They did mis-spell your name.... it should be Famous.
    Because that's what I think you will be .... because of your writing skills.
    This story of 'run for Kerri' is hilarious!
    MaryAnne Paolucci

  4. Thanks, MaryAnne! I'm glad you enjoyed the story, and my writing.

  5. Who knew your run/walk would be a step to becoming farmous?

    Great post.

  6. Thanks, Lee. I'm not sure I want to be famous, or Farmous. :-)

  7. I was there for the road race and watched the events of the day unfold but your account of it is AMAZING! I agree with MaryAnne, you have a gift to write. From your biggest fan. :)

  8. Great story, Kath and thanks for your kind words! What I liked the most was when you said that you had fun...isn't that the most important thing? Just look at Marge's picture at the end makes you smile big!
    Hope to see you soon!