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Today was the fifth annual Striders and Stripers 5k at one of the local prisons. The runners are all Nashville Striders ( a local running club) and prisoners at the facility. "Stripers" are all serving sentences of 6 years or more. Volunteers are also prisoners. Striders try to come with gently used running shoes that can be passed out to aspiring incarcerated runners. I was curious to see if the atmosphere was subdued, since the facility hosted Tennessee's third execution in the modern era only 15 hours before. It was friendly, but not festive. This was my first time at the event, so I had nothing to compare it with.<br><br>
About 20 of us Striders met outside of the facility at 4:45pm. We then went inside to get processed. We were allowed only what we were wearing, our car keys, and our drivers licenses. We were then led to a portion of the exercise yard that contains a baseball diamond.<br><br>
The field is small; nine laps comprise the 5k distance. (In the fall, the same field is the venue for the "Jaunt in the Joint" which includes a 5k, half marathon and full marathon. The full requires an exhausting 76 laps to complete.) In order to contain the confusion, there were 3 separate heats held 45 minutes apart. About 50 total prisoners came to run, and about half that volunteered. Some had shorts and tennis shoes; others had to wear their prison issue jeans. Each runner was assigned a timer who wrote the timee for each lap and let the runner know what lap they were on. There was a time clock set up.<br><br>
We met our timers and shot the breeze while waiting for the first heat to begin. I was in the first heat. My goal was simply to finish the race, and preferably run the whole thing. I got the OK from my OB the day before to run all I want now. After a subdued "go!" from the leader, we were off.<br><br>
There were only 17 people in our heat, and everyone took off. I knew I was getting pulled out too fast, but let myself, because it felt too disorienting to take up my slow jog and fall behind so fast. Some of the runners were clearly not experienced, and would end up walking after the first lap.<br><br><br>
I finished the first lap, and realized I'd run it at less than a 9 minute pace. I'd been planning on a 10:30 pace, so I slowed down. It was 85 degrees. Buy lap five, I realized I'd pushed too hard and I was going harder than I had intended. I ended up walking half a lap for laps 6, 7 and 8. Lap nine had me finishing in 33:53. My timer showed me my splits, and I thanked him for his help.<br><br>
I was by far the slowest Strider on field, but finsihed ahead of about 4 people. It didn't feel all that victorious to pass a guy schlepping along in jeans and basketball shoes.<br><br>
I left pretty quickly, because I didn't want to be away from my nursing baby for too long. It was great time, and I'll definitely come back to the September event.
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