Monday, December 3, 2012

I always start out in first place

I must admit, I do it for laughs.

When running in a 5K, I will stand in the front of the starting line knowing good and well that I will not be first across the finish line. Ever. For any race.

It just makes me chuckle, especially when I later see a photo of the race start.

I wear all the right clothing, have a waterproof heart rate monitor with GPS and even bring a race belt to these things. I look like a serious runner and, therefore, like I might be fast.

But I'm not. I'm slow. But that secret typically goes undetected for at least one minute into the race until I start getting passed ... then passed again ... and then passed again.

In fact, during a 5K I ran earlier in the year, I was talking to a guy after the race who told me his wife had sized up the other racers (there were only 40) before the gun went off, and she had decided I would be her biggest competition.

Now, that was funny. She ended up beating me by a couple minutes. I wonder when she figured out that I wouldn't be giving her any problems.

So, of course, I got in the front of the line at The Friends of the Wilmington Parks Seventh Annual 5K and 10K Run and 5K Walk to Promote Health and Community Fellowship Thanksgiving morning.

Made up of what appeared to be mostly students from Wilmington College or the high schools, I was the only old person up front.

After the starting gun fired, these kids were already blazing a trail. A minute later, I got into my pace, turned on my playlist and just enjoyed the scenic course.

Race organizers told me Thursday morning before I had to leave to come back to the News Journal office that there were at least 350 participants, but that they were still counting the numbers.

As of Thursday evening, according to the race's Facebook page, there were 469 timed participants. A record-turnout for the race, now in it's seventh year.

The excitement of seeing so many friends, the perfect running weather and a beautiful course all added up to a wonderful morning of racing - and I had a blast.

There was, however, a downside I would soon discover.

I haven't been training as much as usual lately, and, though I finished the race without struggle, I was able to observe a decrease in my stamina.

I typically get passed by others more than I pass them, but I felt like I was choking on more dust than usual.

I needed to put more people behind me ... but the energy just wasn't there.

With just a half a mile to go, Mötley Crüe's "Kickstart My Heart" showed up in my playlist. I paused it, knowing that would be a perfect song to get me going at the very end, and I ran a few minutes in silence.

As I turned the last corner, the finish line was in sight. I unpaused the high-energy music and picked up my pace.

A few seconds later, a man running with a stroller started to catch up with me. He, and the two other people with whom he was running, eventually passed me.

I said to myself, "OK, Lora. You cannot let someone pushing a stroller beat you. Pick up the pace a little and sprint to pass them at the very end."

Though I picked up my pace slightly, there was no sprint left in me. To make matters worse, the song slowed down at that point, going in to its bridge.

Of course it did.

Though I had to watch papa and his little one score a higher ranking than me, I actually was pleasantly surprised when I looked up the race results Friday afternoon.

As an unquestionable middle-of-the-pack runner, I was nearly dead center overall having placed 174 out of 349 in the 5K. I placed 76 out of 192 among the females and 28 out of 70 in my age group.

Given how sluggish I'd felt throughout the race, I thought for sure I was headed more toward the back-of-the-pack standings.

I am a very, very competitive person - at least in the things I know I can do well. Running isn't one of them, so even though I have the occasional small goal in a race, just to make it interesting, I'm able to just go out and have a good time.

Thanksgiving's turkey trot served not only as a reminder of how out of shape I am, but also of how grateful to God I am that my faculties are still intact and that I have the ability to just pick up and run.

I noticed there were a couple photographers snapping pictures at the start, finish and along the course. I look forward to seeing the photos online later and having a good laugh about it. I'm always in first place at the starting line.

This was originally published in the Nov. 24 edition of the Wilmington News Journal.


Marc Nelson said...

It is certainly so exciting to stand in front of the starting line and watching the photo of the race start later.You do look like a serious runnerin the right clothing. All the best for the 5k!

goat weed

~Jess~ said...

I smiled reading this... Great post :)


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