On Saturday I ran the 4th Annual Run Drugs Out of Town 5k in Fraser MI, on a super fast course that has PR written all over it.
I am normally a stickler about my race eve routine but Friday turned out to be more hectic than usual and by late Friday night, a glass (or two) of Cabernet somehow found its way into my hand despite my long standing rule against imbibing the night before an event.
It is no surprise then that on race day morning I found myself running behind. I arrived at Fraser High School about twenty minutes before the start of the race and barely had time for an 800 meter slow trot around the track and a pit stop in the little boys room.
There were staggered starts for each event with the 10k going first. Two loops for them around the high school track (a really nice surface I might add) and off to the road they went.
The 5k was up next with a half lap and the walkers went last.
So here I am, having done nothing I normally do pre-race and suddenly, POW (they used a real starters pistol) we were off!
During a 5k, I like to run my first half mile a little faster than I intend to run the entire race and that’s what I did. From that point, I kind of settle into my pace.
At the 1 mile marker, my time was 6:54. I would’ve liked to have been at 6:50 but I was satisfied.
I continue this pace until about the 1.5 mile mark or so then I pulled back ever so slightly and at the 2 mile marker I was at 14:01.
I was okay with that because I knew I was on pace for a PR. I also knew that for people who race as I do, this is the point in the race where the proverbial crap hits the fan.
At around mile 2.5, the struggle begins (insert dramatic horror music and scream)! Sweat is pouring all over my face, my breathing is severely labored and of course the mental demons came out to play.
I just told myself that I knew this would happen and to just hang in there. For those of you who race 5k’s you know, this is the time in the race where if you don’t fight back, you will regret it it for the rest of the year.
It was hurting, the mental demons said quit, but I am no quitter, so I push I push I push. Spit is flying out of my mouth, I am fighting to keep my form intact and oh my God my lungs were on fire!
I fought and I fought and I fought and still, no mile 3 marker! Hang in there baby, hang in there. The seconds seemed like minutes, the minutes seemed like hours.
We make a turn and finally, the school is there! Come on man I thought to myself, you can do this. Pick a runner and then go get them, and that’s what I did; I surged for about ten seconds! Now I settle in again. We’re in front of the school but dang it must be a country mile long!
Finally, I see the 5k turn. I stagger for it and bust a right. Looking ahead I see another right turn so I surge again, this time for five seconds, ooof that one really burned!
As I get to the turn which is at the track, I start my recovery breaths from my last surge and just as I enter the stadium, I see the clock at the finish. I look at the clock and it says 21:22 and it is about 50 yards ahead. My 5k PR is 21:42 so I bolted like a bat outta hell!
My last surge lasted about seven seconds and I shot across the finish line like a missile.
My time; 21:36 I did it!
Afterwards, I was ecstatic!
I went back to the track and hung out for the official time and to root for the other runners and walkers.
It seemed as if they were guarding the times and placings with their lives. Finally they got going and once I realized the age groups were in nine year increments and not four, I figured I was out…or was I?
They got to my age group, 40-49 and announce my name for 2nd place! Woot!
I spoke with a few other age group winners and a spectator commented on how “young” we all looked. True, we were all 44 and older and probably didn’t look it but that is one of those fringe benefits of health and fitness.
There was a time when we were young that turning 50 or 60 meant you were old. Nowadays, we know that is not the case.
Someone recently asked me what the secret to looking young was and I explained it like this; eat clean meals, exercise, try not stress too much, and have a drink every now and again.
Lastly but more importantly, play with the kids at the family reunion. Show them you can do a cartwheel or handstand. Play hopscotch or jump rope with the kids on the block. Don’t get too “old” to have a push up contest or a foot race with the teenagers at the pool party.
Ask your six year old nephew to pull your finger, and have a rocket ready for him. So when he pulls it and hears that rumble, he takes off running like the Dickens!
What I am saying to you is simply this; remain young at heart, and the mind and body will likely follow.