As a middle-aged man who needs to drop some weight before I'm even close to being in proper shape, I am fully cognizant of the fact that I'm closer--chronologically--to the saggy old guys in the YMCA locker room than I would care to admit.
These are the tentative plans. I hesitate to say "resolutions," because those are easily and quickly broken.
I have two races--a half-marathon in April and a sprint triathlon in May--on the schedule. Not--I repeat, not--signing up for any other endurance sports events while I attend to the important business of student teaching.
I will, however, have to find time for swimming workouts. This may mean I try to rustle myself for the truly masochistic 5am workout group. I would be less worried about the workouts than just the getting up that early.
I had pretty much given up on running the Bell Ringer 25K trail race until, literally, the day before the race. I am severely undertrained to run 25K, yet I thought, well, I've paid for it, there is swag involved, go for it. (I am that shallow.)
I left my house later than I'd have liked--for a 50+ minute drive to the race--and was in the parking lot, 1/4 to 1/2 mile away from the race start, when I heard the bell and cheers to signify the start of the race.
So I already start the thing in an adrenalized jog to make sure I get there before they take down the starting-line equipment. I ran through, asked if there would be signs and volunteers to let me know where I'm going. I was assured that yes, absolutely, signs everywhere.
Because I was several minutes behind all the other racers, I had the road to myself. Unfortunately, I hadn't studied the route map very clearly. After about 2 miles of running, I did see a sign pointing to one of the trails. I saw the telltale orange coolers that let me know that this was a stop for the racers. They sent me on my way, and I continued to be alone on the trail. According to MapMyRun, I had just hit the 6-mile mark when I heard a voice say, "On your left." Had the leader just lapped me? Had he run 21+ miles in the time that I'd run six?
As it turned out, the 50K runners had a different course than the 25K runners, but still, the guy was booking it.
The great thing about trail races, I figure, is that when things get tough, it's more than OK to walk. There are roots and rocks everywhere, and if you're fatigued or just not paying attention, you're asking for a rolled ankle or jammed Achilles tendon (the latter of which happened to me 10 years ago during an otherwise wonderful afternoon trail run; I was still feeling traces of it a year afterward).
So I get to roughly the 9-mile mark on MapMyRun, and I come to an aid station (which came not a moment too soon). The volunteer said, "Follow those orange cones; you've got maybe a half-mile left." Well, I thought, maybe she should have just said, "You've got a half-mile until this other loop starts." But sure enough, just a few minutes later, I get to the finish line and run it out.
I've heard of GPS's being off, but this one said I'd only run 9.73 miles. Sure enough, when I got home, I compared what MapMyRun had recorded with the course map. I had in fact missed a turn. If there had been a volunteer or a sign near the 1-mile mark, I'd have been on the correct route. Instead, I'd unwittingly chopped off over five and a half miles from the course. Just as well. At the rate I was going--slower and slower--I might have been out there for two more hours.
I wanted to make sure that I wasn't listed among the age-group winners, so I went to the race's results page. It lists me as "Did Not Start."
My glutes and hamstrings say otherwise.
Though I didn't fully earn it, I got the finisher's medal. I'm not giving it back. Swag.
• UPDATE: The website was fixed to reflect that I did in fact start the race, but the results were in fact for only the 9.75 miles I ran. I feel better knowing that even that result would not have placed me in the top three of my age group.
OK, I promise the most recent deferment was actually my wife's idea. Seriously!
A Thanksgiving tradition of sorts, I go with some other Nashville friends who stay across the road from us to an 8K in Ridgeland, Mississippi. As it so happens, I ran with a family member of his and his wife. The guy was a marathoner like me, and, again like me, not really built like a marathoner. So the three of us fell into conversation and had a lovely, leisurely run. I came in at 57:11, which is about an 11:32 mile. Really, I thought that was respectable, given that I'd done next to no running in the past few months.
And this Saturday, bumping it up to 12K. The Saturday after that, 25K. (I'd like to have that one back.)
It occurs to me that the title of the blog is something of a misnomer at this point. Mostly because I just switched the last marathon I was going to do for the foreseeable future to the half, and also because I'm playing less and less mandolin (and hopefully more and more bass).
I am leaning towards doing a lot more swimming and a little less running.
Maybe it's age. Maybe it's priorities. Maybe I've just gotten a better start on figuring myself out.