I’ve wanted to do the Daytona 5K Run & Fun Walk since my first Daytona 500 in 2012. That race was rained out, postponed and delayed due to the notorious jet dryer incident. However, I distinctly remember standing on the asphalt on a dismal Sunday morning and making a promise that I must participate in that event. In 2013 I was terribly ill and couldn’t make it. Could you imagine the heartbreak and disappointment of missing out on this 5K after almost year of preparation? I made a vow that 2014 wasn’t going to pass me by. By hook or by crook I was going to be part of this. As the time drew closer, I tried to get race ready, I really did but simply wasn’t running as much anymore. So I signed up for the fun walk and at least get the experience without any extra pressure. This turned out to be a fantastic decision because my sister was going to be there with me.
January 25, 2014 started out in a pretty awful way. It was freezing cold with a light rain. We arrived at Daytona International Speedway sometime around 5:30am to a surprisingly large crowd of cars and participants. After taking a tram to the Sprint Fanzone, we separated because she was going to sign up and I had to collect my packet. It took us a few minutes to get sorted and reunite at the Start/Finish line. There’s something very thrilling, especially for a race fan to be on Pit Road under the lights at Daytona. My sister isn’t a race fan but was very excited to be there with me. Runners set out first followed by walkers. The latter group was far more casual about the event. I wouldn’t even call it a race because we weren’t timed. People were stopping to take photos and I was sorely tempted to scale the high banks for a photo, but what goes up must come down and my chances of falling were more than good. This was before the Rolex 24 and the last thing I wanted was to be hobbling around the speedway.
We walked briskly and stayed together, laughing and singing along. I never ran outside during this kind of weather. Until the skies started to brighten, I was seeing my breath. This is a new experience for a Caribbean girl, who prefers to stay under covers on mornings like these. My sister too, but it didn’t take long for her to understand why I wanted to do this. It’s not because of the cold but the location. The Daytona International Speedway is a spectacular place to run. It’s huge but at the same time, you feel perfectly safe because it’s like having a massive personal running track…which you’re sharing with a few hundred people and thousands of campers. The light of day was spreading as we crossed the finish line. It was a lot of fun and since we didn’t care to stick around for the prize giving, we left after I showed her around a little bit. After we sat down in the nearby IHOP for breakfast we realized what we had accomplished that morning.
This was our first race together, and it was at a place that I hold dear to my heart. As I’ve said before, I don’t know why I love that place so much, and after having walked the oval – I think I love it even more. Next year, I hope to go back again but to run instead of walk. I’ve pre-registered for another 5K and started training. Do I plan on winning or taking home a prize? Nope. Do I plan on doing my best and having a good time? Absolutely but in the meantime, I’ve got to focus and not forget the goals.