5k for CAMBA

I’m calling this race the kickoff to running season. The 5k for CAMBA is my first race of 2019 and sets the time to beat for all future 5ks in the lead up to my 16 week training plan for the marathon. Training doesn’t start in earnest until the end of July (coinciding with my return from my vacation). I’m considering all the time between now and then to be pre-conditioning. Getting in shape to get in shape.

The Goal

I set a goal of 35 minutes.

At my best, I was consistently running 30 minute 5k’s but I’ve been out of practice and I was fighting off a virus that’s been going around. During the week leading up to the race it seemed like I just could not sleep enough. I called out sick two days and slept nearly 13 hours three nights in a row, but Thursday night I slept 7 hours and woke up Friday morning before my alarm like I usually do. I didn’t feel 100% but I did feel like I was good to go for the race the next day.

I set a goal I felt was attainable but that I wasn’t totally sure I could hit. I think that’s what’s important in a goal. It should be enough of a challenge to inspire you, a reach, but not such a longshot that you give up because you don’t believe it’s possible.

The Race

On race day it’s absolutely pouring. Welcome to monsoon season in Brooklyn! I love running in the rain. As far as I’m concerned this is perfect weather for a 5k. My friend Dan, who is joining me for his very first 5k ever, does not agree. He doesn’t complain too much though.


As we approach the start we see that there is a picket line of Union workers on strike. They’re chanting and passing out leaflets. At first most of the runners seem confused but before long their chant’s make clear why they’re here. “At CAMBA, we serve the poor - That’s why they won’t give us more!” Well, right on then.

The strikers are not protesting the runners, they’re protesting the exploitation of their labor, and I was glad to talk with them and learn more about what they’re fighting for, both for the community they serve working for CAMBA, and for themselves as compensation for the incredible work they do. More on CAMBA and the Union in the next section. Now that I’m clear that running this race ain’t crossing a picket line, I’m ready to get things moving.

The starting line is about three quarters of the way up the hill I like to call ‘The Frowning Hill’ so the worst is over before you even know it. The rest of the course is more or less flat with one great big downhill that is steeper than my tight quads and knees would prefer but still better than running up The Frowning Hill.

As we start my right hamstring feels a little tight but not too bad and I feel happy and excited about my goal and in my mind I’m already planning out May and June and July. Mentally I’m scheduling future races and milestones for preconditioning and before I know it I’m at a familiar landmark that let’s me know I’ve got the downhills coming up soon. I always run/walk but I set a rule that- barring injury- there is absolutely no walking in the first mile. I rolled through the first mile and coming up on 1.5 miles and I push on through because it’s downhill and I’d feel like a chump walking on a downhill.

When I hit the flat with the beautiful view of the lake I’m still feeling good but starting to lose steam realizing that this is the part I always forget is longer than I expect it to be. There is about a half mile that no matter how many times I do the loop, just never makes it into my memory of this course. I take walk breaks as my right hamstring starts nagging me and my quads feel tighter. I alternate walking from here to there and running short bursts (this technique is known as the fartlek! Which is sweedish for ‘speed play’ and also… fart lol). My right butt cheek is tight but the fartlek is working for me, as it always does. In the last .2 I pick it up and finish strong.

In the end I hit my goal with 5 seconds to spare! I hit my goal and I felt good.



I do not think I could have run harder and hit my normal 30 minute time and given that I spent the next week back in my 13 hour sleeping pattern, I think I made the right call not pushing any harder. I made the wrong call on boozy brunch after the race… but I don’t regret a thing. I spent the whole day climbing up and down the hills and rocks in prospect park. It made me miss being a kid climbing through the woods in my hometown and I resolve to make time for trails and hills more frequently. I think this will be good for my overall fitness and helpful on my problem areas spending a little more time in the dirt than on pavement.

Patron saint of boozy brunch

Patron saint of boozy brunch

CAMBA and the Union Strikers

Let me start by saying, I stand with union workers. Period.

This race supports an organization called CAMBA which I have admired over the years. I’ve done this race a few times and encouraged my company to make charitable donations to them in the past. Their mission is noble and their workers believe in the mission of CAMBA as much as I do. I just wanna support CAMBA but in order to do that I need to support the workers. CAMBA serves more than 45,000 individuals and families providing Economic Development, Education & Youth Development, Family Support, Health, Housing, and Legal Services. It’s incredible work.

The strikers just want to get back to work helping their community, but they need to be compensated appropriately for their labor- which includes parental leave, affordable healthcare, and a living wage (frankly I think a ‘living wage’ is asking too little. You need this kind of work to be attractive and being mission driven isn’t enough.).

Take it easy, but take it.

Take it easy, but take it.

I understand the need for high salaries for C level executives at non-profits and the need for spending on donor events but that same reasoning should extend to the people who actually do the work that drives the mission.

What’s disgusting? Union Busting! And also this soaking wet leaflet after it got rained on in my pocket during the race…

What’s disgusting? Union Busting! And also this soaking wet leaflet after it got rained on in my pocket during the race…

Up Next

May is a big travel month for me. This weekend I’ll be back in Baltimore for the Tattoo Convention and then later in the month I’ll be back down in Calvert County for the Muddy Princess Mud Run!

Amanda McCall