First off, let me restate that I have lived pretty much a charmed life. Happily married, healthy family, no money problems. But I would imagine I am most like everyone in that I have regrets, disappointments and crises of confidence in my life.
It was therefore more than a little bit of a surprise when I ended up not only with a personal PR in the 10K but, for the first time ever, an age-group place award:
And I am sure I am making a bigger deal out of it than it is. But hang with me a minute. The award itself is not the whole reward.
I am not one of those people who is an evangelist for a specific sport or lifestyle; I'm just telling you what's helping benefit my own life as I get older. I hope everyone can find whatever thing that helps enrich their lives and whose tangential rewards help other parts of their lives as well.
What was significant about getting second in my age group (at what I freely admit is a smaller race with few or none of what would pass for local age-group elites) were several things:
• I learned that despite still being 20 pounds overweight, that I am stronger than I thought, and by the objective statistical measure of the clock, I am a better runner at 51 than I was at 31.
• I learned that I need to stop thinking about myself as automatically finishing near the bottom of the age group.
• I learned that I was able to put some thought into a race, stay mentally present and take the risk of pushing myself a bit.
If you're not a runner, you may not understand how these kinds of things help your non-running life. But if your life has had ups and downs, false starts and missed opportunites, well, you'll figure it out.
Was excited to take my first B-cycle (bike-sharing) ride Friday afternoon. Totally love the concept, and it keeps me from having to buy a cruiser bike of my own. I can tell you this: it's harder to bike a heavy cruiser uphill than a road bike!
I am trying to plot out block-training to run to the closest B-cycle station (4.5 miles away), ride a while, then run back. Or maybe park at the Centennial Sportsplex for swim practice, then walk across to the street and get a bike at the B-cycle station at the Parthenon. Yes. I think I like the latter option better.
Yes, the July-like weather is already hitting us, which means my morning runs are going to have to start around 6am rather than the 8:30 times to which I am accustomed. Just as well to have the earlier start; hopefully, with the school year being over, I can get to bed at a decent time, rather than clicking on SportsCenter after midnight to unwind after the high school student in my house has gone to bed.
I am running my first 10K of the year on Memorial Day. I have of course run the numbers from earlier races this year through the Runner's World race-time predictor. If I run like I ran my PR 5K from March, then I'll end up breaking 57 minutes, which would be another PR*. If I run like my rather desultory half-marathon in April, I'll drag it in at around 1:11. Let's just say I'll shoot for an hour and hope for the best.
I had a good race in the Cedars of Lebanon Triathlon this past Saturday, finishing 12th out of 17 in my age group. I was one of the slower swimmers, but right at the middle of the pack for cycling and running. Still pretty slow in transition, though. Room for improvement!
* I am having trouble locating the official time of what I believe to be my 10K PR. I ran the 4th of July 10K in Wilson, Wyoming in 1993. I have it in my mind that I ran it in 58 minutes. I ran 1:01:36 on Labor Day 2011. A sub-one-hour finish on Memorial Day would be a triumph.
First triathlon of the season, the Iron Nugget Sprint in the Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns, Tennessee.
The raceday checklist for a triathlon is obviously more complicated than for a marathon, so a good bit of the night-before anxieties include checking, rechecking and vexing over various pieces of equipment (the most obvious being the bike; less obvious is the bike helmet, without which one is not allowed to participate).
For the first time, I rented a wetsuit, partly out of the added buoyancy/reduced drowning probability. Only in a triathlon can a straight man approach another man, and say, "Could you zip me up, please?" (I did this to someone who was not in the race, and if he was terribly uncomfortable about the request, he was at least polite enough to oblige me.) I was certainly glad I had the wetsuit, not only for the buoyancy but for the warmth (water temperature: 62℉).
As I was headed down to the water for the start, I went through one last mental check of equipment:
Bike helmet & shoes: Check.
Running shoes: Check.
Water bottles for bike and run: Each filled with water and a Nuun electrolyte tablet...and safely locked inside my car instead of brought into the transition area. D'oh!
What surprised me about the swim is, despite having the wetsuit, how much it still wore me out. Nonetheless, I made the 800-yard swim in 21:39 (it felt like 45 minutes or so), then up to transition (thank you, Mother Nature and Tennessee State Parks, for making the parking lot/transition area up a steep hill).
I have done very little cycling this spring, so a last-in-the-age-group time on the cycling split was not a surprise. Happily, a volunteer from the JROTC handed me a water bottle about halfway into the ride. Two demoralizing hills on the 17-mile bike course, the latter of which caused me to get off the bike and walk for a minute or so.
On to the run. Triathlons still have a way of reducing your run form to a shuffle, and this was no different. I did the 5K in 34:28 (11:06/mile), which, again, first tri of the year, so I had no expectations.
Still, I have to admit to a smidgen of disappointment to see that my time of 2:20:34.2 (yes, it was timed down to the hundredth of a second) was 10th out of 10 in the 50-54 age group. The Pollyanna in me still says, you know who I finished ahead of? Every 50-to-54-year-old man that slept in. I mean, three years ago, I'm not sure I could have even run a 5K on its own in under 35 minutes.
Today is Record Store Day, and I'm reminded that one of the first records I ever owned was the 45 of "Sweet Caroline."
When I was in high school, it was not unusual for me to be lurking in the library. It was, however, unusual that I'd check out a book just for my own reading pleasure. One such book was The Boston Marathon by Joe Falls. Even though my own athletic career had seemingly gone by the wayside--I was a benchwarmer in football, basketball and baseball during my junior-high years, and I never made a varsity high school team--for some reason, that book stuck with me for years. Just the idea of running the Boston Marathon captured my imagination. Heck, Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers had been on the cover of Sports Illustrated, so I knew about the marathon. It just took me over a decade to run one (and almost another decade before I ran a second one; a whole decade-plus before I ran a third). And like just about everyone who's run one, I have harbored the dream of qualifying for and running Boston. My affinity for culinary indulgence, especially in summertime, and a lack of commitment to intensified training have kept me far away from actually qualifying.
I lament the inescapable fact that, as explored in this article, that the largely positive vibe of race day will have to be balanced with a level of caution and enhanced security. But I'm still going to run them. And if I can ever lay off the ice cream, Boston, here I come.