Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Francis Marion Memorial Statute

Here's the thing about dogma, and spotting people ruled by it:  it's easy to detect, it's fun to tweak, and you are NEVER wrong for calling it out.

Sometimes, I get greater pleasure calling out liberals on their own dogma, compared to conservatives, because liberals (typically) get WAY more angry over it (as if it were nonsense that they could EVER commit the same mistakes conservatives make every day).  The South Park guys have often said that liberals always get madder when they're the butt of jokes compared to conservatives, but I think it's not a guarantee.  Because, you know, nuance.

Anyway, along South Carolina Avenue on Capitol Hill DC is a little National Park called "Marion Park."  It's named after Francis Marion, a revolutionary war hero who confounded the British using hit-and-run, guerrilla tactics.  The US Army credits him as one of the reasons the Army Rangers exist today.  His nickname was "The Swamp Fox."  He's particularly venerated in South Carolina, but also in the South, as a revolutionary war hero, and is credited as much by the Smithsonian.  Early in his life, he fought a brutal war against the Cherokee, and learned a lot from their use of terrain, and natural cover.  He took those lessons with him later against the British.

I'm actually happy that people in South Carolina celebrate this guy, because (1) it's not Civil War related, and therefore we can all agree that the US winning over the British was a good thing, (2) it's not NASCAR-related, and (3) it's not some idiot opposing the teaching of evolution as some sort of Obama-plot.  American heroes came from all corners during the revolution.  They did so at great personal risk.

So, some guy in South Carolina visited the park in DC, and saw there was no statue to him, just a sign noting that it was "Marion Park."  He worked up funds to create a "Swamp Fox Memorial," in the park.  It was undertaken, and got various approvals, including a signed Executive Order from the President, as well as other administrative steps.

But wait!  Didn't ANYONE think to ask the residents of Capitol Hill?  I mean, it's a NATIONAL park, but we really ought to go check with some local folks to make sure it's ok with them first.  Sorry, what I mean is:  Barf.

Anyway, they're pissed.  Marion, a person born nearly 300 years ago, did not live his life as we enlightened folks here in the 21st Century would like for him to have lived it.  He owned slaves.  His war against the Cherokee was brutal.  And, he was, by all accounts, good at war.

That's enough for some Capitol Hill residents to ABSOLUTELY LOSE THEIR SHIT.

The opposition to this is insipid, and tries to apply 21st century morals to someone who was born in the 1700s. This is the worst kind of hyper-hysterical political correctness. George Washington owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson not only owned them, he did far . . . more with them. The Marines on Iwo Jima were no angels as they retook that island. Shall we investigate the service records of the men represented on the Marine Corps War Memorial? They were, after all, white men born in the 1920s, and I doubt they spent their spare time working at soup kitchens, snuggling puppies, or marching for equal rights for minorities. All of these individuals undoubtedly held some beliefs, and engaged in some actions that people would describe as “brutal,” and 21st century people would find abhorrent. Yet we justifiably honor them all.

That a NATIONAL park is named after Francis Marion, someone whose bona fides in helping the United States gain its independence cannot seriously be questioned. And yet now, in modern times, people have decided that it is disgraceful to even remember him, or that you're only permitted to remember him negatively.  Absurd.

This is the nanny-state thought that many "intellectuals" engage in.  If we build a statue to someone, then EVERYONE will think that person must be perfect, except for "us," the enlightened few who know better.  Barf.  My favorite memorial is to Thomas Jefferson, and yet people of COURSE discuss his slaveownership, Sally Hemmings, and that he held some racist views (he believed blacks were inferior to whites).  That's just ONE of the founders whom we celebrate.  So shove your "but if we build a statue to someone then nobody will think of him in context" crap.  Believe it or not, some people without a Master's Degree in Political Science can actually think for themselves.

First, to the people carping over the "incursion" onto Capitol Hill — Marion Park is a NATIONAL park, and therefore any resident of this country should be able to have a say over what should or shouldn’t be in the park. Being located on Capitol Hill doesn’t give local residents any special veto. It’s on South Carolina Ave, in a NATIONAL park, and therefore the person pushing for the statute is entirely justified in seeking to place it there. Many aspects of this city carry a NATIONAL identity, and a National Park is surely one of them.  Your supposed "greater" status by living on Capitol Hill doesn't impress anyone outside of the beltway, and only impresses people INSIDE the beltway when it comes to commuting time.  YOU DON'T GET SUPERIOR INPUT OVER A NATIONAL PARK BY VIRTUE OF YOUR PROXIMITY TO IT.

Next, there is a person who smugly suggested that because Hollywood softened the (awful) Mel Gibson biopic, "The Patriot," it must have given more consideration than Congress, the President, or the NPS, realizing how horrible Marion was.  To those types of folks, I say:  It must be SO cool to live in your simple world.  It might surprise you to learn that Hollywood is not about promoting morals so much as it is about promoting MONEY. They’re not all stupid. Obviously, putting out a movie in the 21st century depicting some of Marion’s actions in an 18th century WAR would have been a turn-off to enough folks, and caused enough controversy, that it would NOT MAKE MONEY. Don’t try and glom onto Hollywood as some sort of moral arbiter. They care about the bottom line.

Another person pointed out that freedmen built a nearby church, and that putting a statue of Francis Marion there would be insulting.  Again, hypocrisy and selective outrage. 
Did it occur to anyone that in DC, you have black men and women who guard, work in, and otherwise tend to memorials of people who held slaves?

Of course, many of the MOTH-posting, Eastern Market browsing crowd, will sniff and decide that I must be a Tea Partier because I’m not toeing the politically correct line. I’m sure I’ll get called racist, because that’s the best means for someone to shut down argument, if they lack a counter. But that is because they are directed by dogma, not a devotion to facts. I think I’m in good company: the U.S. District Court Judge who prevented anti-evolution “intelligent design,” advocates from pushing their anti-science was called an “activist liberal judge.” However, he was a Dubya appointee, and was plenty conservative. He just recognized dogma, irrational thought, and misplaced outrage, so he called it out, angering many people with whom he agreed on likely many other topics. So be it here.

The Smithsonian itself has declared Marion a “hero of the revolution.”

(it notes that Marion was “no saint” by modern standards and yet still credits him as a hero — go cancel your Smithsonian membership, all you Outrage Junkies!).

The US Army even credits Francis Marion as leading to the development of the US Army Rangers. But because some local residents want to complain about a NATIONAL park, the NPS should stop all efforts. I’m surprised the name/sign hasn’t been defaced yet.

Here's the thing:  It’s WORTH teaching children that the founders of this country, the people who helped bring it into being, were not perfect. But we honor those who helped found this country, despite their flaws, because this country allows those who are flawed to still flourish. We learn, we grow, and we continue. We don’t try to pretend the past didn’t happen, or that people whose actions wouldn’t pass muster NOW never did anything positive when they were alive.

Some residents of Capitol Hill want to apply modern morals to a man born almost 300 years ago. If the statue is placed, I’d be proud to explain to generations that we honor a man who helped found this country, but was no angel. Nuance is important, no matter the issue.  If you can't see that, it's because your dogma is in the way.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

2014 Annapolis 10-Miler Race Report

Disclaimer:  There will be, at times in this report, references to "my throbbing groin."

Go on, get it over with.  

But -- seriously, my groin has been tight, and I can't seem to find the answer.  Rest, stretching, foam rolling, "The Stick"(tm) all aren't really helping as much, or as quickly as I would like.  

But but -- I took a week off, which helped some.  But I can't afford to take a month or something off.  So it isn't really stopping me from running, but it IS stopping me from running fast. 

Follow me? 

Fine, screw you people, doing this race report for ME at this point (which wouldn't surprise me if that's how many readers this blog even has).

Seven years ago, when I would often "Race to Train," instead of "Training to Race," I did this course.  It's VERY hilly, and, because it's in late August, it's often quite hot.  I struggled, and finished with just about my worst 10-mile time of about 1:40, call it 100 minutes.

Out of the blue, I just kind of noticed that this race was there, and was the same day as the Quantico Sprint Tri.  I chose the A-10, for reasons I can't really explain.  Maybe this year is just about getting rid of demons.  But I signed up for it.

This race has a lot of good going for it:

1.  It's cheap for a 10-mile race, $65 if you register early on.

2.  They give GREAT premiums, like a race jacket.  One year I think they gave out watches.

3.  Parking is spacious and easy to reach.

4.  This course is in Annapolis MD, starting out at the Navy-Marine Corps stadium, and winding through Annapolis' bars/restaurant area, as well as some really lovely residential sections, all with residents sitting out to cheer you on, or even spray you with a garden hose (in a kind way, not a "get dafuq outta here" way).

The "bad," isn't much, but again, it's AUGUST in Annapolis, and this is the hill profile:

Those are some SERIOUS climbs.  You go up and over the Naval Academy Bridge TWICE, and also engage in some serious ups and down as you run this thing.  They warn you on the registration page that this is NOT the course where you're going to PR.

I learned the hard way seven years ago.  No need to convince me today!  The hills, along with the sun, aren't to be taken lightly.

Plus, with my training for Fall races, I'd already run 10 miles the day before the race.  So I was determined just to get this thing over with.  The problem was, as with so many things, my groin was tight and I couldn't seem to stretch it out and/or loosen it.

Asking for maturity here . . . .

It's been tight on one side for about a month, and the stuff I mentioned before isn't fixing it as quickly as I'd like.  Still, I'd been forced to miss the MD HEAT race for work, and now this race was looking dicey.  So I made myself a promise -- just finishing this thing would be cause for celebration, and if ANYTHING hurt, I would walk.  I just didn't want to pull out of this race.

Anyway, I woke up at FOUR EFFING O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING to go to this race, so I was damn well going to be careful about how I did it.

I grabbed my stuff, drove to Annapolis, snapped this shot of the sunrise at the stadium, and waited for the start.

HOONK!  The air horn sounded, and off we went.

Miles 0-3:
Herman Cain would love this stretch.  

Each one of these miles took 9 minutes flat:  So:  9, 9, 9.

Ordinarily, I'd expect to go faster for a 10 mile run, but I was seriously-not-kidding doing my best to run without taxing myself very much.  I was actually kinda pleased that my groin wasn't throbbing, so much as just needing a good stretc-SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.

Mile 3-4:  (9:50)
This was slow, but I walked through a water stop, took a Gu, swallowed a salt tablet, and then (for part of this), we began to approach The Bridge.

This is the Naval Academy Bridge, and, from all appearances if you're a runner, it goes STRAIGHT UP TO THE SKY SERIOUSLY WHERE IS THE TOP OF THIS THING?


This was not fun.  The good news was that I made a little time as I . . . went down.

Mile 4-5:  (9:25)
Not as much time gained as I had lost, but I was still happy -- I hadn't hit 10 minutes per mile yet.  Unfortunately, you never make up the full amount of time that you lost going up.  No biggie.  We headed into some really nice, pretty residential areas of Annapolis.  Many residents stood on their lawns, cheering us on, some even had set up sprinklers for the runners to go through.

Yes, wearing a Washington Nationals shirt in the heart of Maryland.  Sorry, O's fans.

 Miles 5-7: (9:46, 9:47)
These miles were slow, but we were really doing some roller coaster hills, and I wasn't going to worry too much about it.  There was a funny stretch where, starting at mile "late 5" until ALMOST mile 7, we wound our way down a loooooooong gentle downhill, while the whole time faster people climbed up the other way.  

It was the worst preview of things that were going to suck I'd seen since the new Ninja Turtles trailer.  I halfway hoped those people over there were running a different race than us ("Oh hi, A-10 runners!  We're not doing your race, ours is called the half-mile-uphill-suicide-scramble!  Have fun going downhill more!").

Finally, after an excruciatingly long amble down the gentle hill, we turned Up, where I felt every one of my increasing-years.

Uphills give me gas.  Well, so do downhills.  And popcorn.

 It was Not Cool.  My groin was at its Most Annoyed part of the day.

What, my blog?  No argument there.  But the hill did too.
Miles 7-9: (9:35, 9:30)
I looked down at my Garmin as I began mile 7, and realized that if I held a sub-10 minute pace, child's play on any non-throbbing-groin run, I could get a course PR.  Here I was, SEVEN years older, and potentially able to run this thing faster.  My groin was tight, but not painful.  I knew that if I started to open up any amount of speed, I'd (re?)injure myself.  So I just focused on keeping a steady, not fast pace.  Miles 7-8 and 8-9 came in seconds apart.

Note:  This section covered that Naval Academy bridge again, and I had a blast this time.  I kept my stride short, my lean forward, and my mind on beating 10 minutes.

Mile 9-10:  (9:00)

Just like that, my last mile was the same speed as the first three miles.  

The Red Shoes of Doom(tm) still carrying me along!
 I'd done it!  I'd PR'd this monstrosity of a course by less than 5 minutes (which isn't anything to sneeze at for a 10-mile race), and I was walking (mostly) normally.  One of the members of the Annapolis Striders handed me a cold wet towel, and I happily went and got race jacket finishers premium.

I hate you all.  So much.

Sometimes you have a race plan, and the plan is this:

Don't race, just run.  Have fun.  And sometimes, that's enough.  It was today.

Race by the numbers:

Blah.  At last check I was in the top 51% of my AG (ouch, as in, bottom half).  I need to wait for more official numbers when it comes to OA (edit:  looks like I was only in the top 41% of all finishers).  I have to say -- this is a freaking FAST field of runners.  I saw very few people who liked like, well, me.  Damn.  So many thin, fast people.  Meh.  More post-race bagels for me. 

I had about a 70-second positive split (boo!), but considering the hills loaded onto the second half of this course, it really shouldn't be that surprising.

Things I learned:
 1.   I need to massage my groin more often and otherwise take better care of it if I'm going to feel better.  BLOG OVER I'M NOT EVEN LISTENING NOW GO FOR IT.

I'm so not even going to dignify this with a caption.  Besides this one.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Cherry Blossom 10-miler t-shirt

Go on -- tell me this wouldn't win the 
Cherry Blossom 10-miler T-shirt design contest!


Instagram filter:  awesomeness.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How I got hit by a bike. On purpose.

Mini-blog!  With (terrible) pics!

I had a weird incident Monday afternoon on the Mount Vernon Trail, not too far from National Airport.  I mentioned it on The Tweeter, but really couldn't do it justice in 140 characters.  Not even 280:

So I thought I'd try and draw out what happened using my Mac. I found a great Paint-esque (free) program called Paintbrush for Mac, which (1) will make it easier to describe what happened, and (2) will demonstrate why I went into law, not art.

The section of the Mount Vernon Trail where I was running runs right NEXT to the George Washington Parkway, a 4-lane fast moving highway that is picturesque, but also quite zippy.  But the trail and the highway are really REALLY close to each other in this stretch.  

How close?

Using Garmin Data, my watch detected a slight lowering of my pace right . . . about . . . 


So.  Using Google Maps with Garmin, here's the spot of the crash, which will show you where the highway is relative to the trail:

Eek.  Despite Garmin's insistence, while we ended up ABOUT that close to the highway, we weren't actually IN the road (the green "play" symbol is where Garmin thinks I was when I came to a complete stop).  But I'm jumping ahead (although if you're reading this, you know I wasn't (1) flattened by an out-of-control bike, and (2) we weren't ground into pink/red stains on the GW Parkway by traffic, so that's nice.


So, here's a (very) rough outline of the trail:

From left to right:  MV Trail, grassy patch, GW Parkway.

THEN, let's add me, wearing my trusty red Washington Nationals shirt with the Curly W in the upper center (although truth be told, I was wearing blue for Memorial Day):

Those are little blue sweat beads coming off me, because it was a HOT HOT afternoon run, while the bicyclist is shitting himself because he lost a shoe/cleat (poop not pictured because this is a fucking tasteful blog, assholes).

I saw the cyclist coming towards me, but then he took a sharp (like 45 degree left turn AT me and raised some sort of alarm (like, "WHOOOAAAAAAA").  It was clear he'd lost control ("Really Tai? A cyclist was suddenly was aiming at you and yelling in distress was out of control?  You weave quite a riveting tale.  I mean, you're an idiot.")

As it turned out, he'd lost his right shoe, and what looked like the cleat as well, but was going FAST and couldn't stop. Perhaps he didn't want to, what do I know?  He made a pronounced turn in a direction that can only be described as DIRECTLY THE EFF AT ME.

I also could see the traffic, which was, of course, at 4pm on a Holiday Monday, doing Mach Bazillion.

I had a few choices:

1.  Stop and let him zip by me. 
--Not a great idea, because I could end up like the Seinfeld finale and prosecuted for bystanding or something

2.  Get directly in front of him to stop him.
--I'm not super adept at physics, but that seemed like it would hurt.

3.  Sidestep him, then try to grab at him to slow him down.
--Oh, sure, why not?

The force of my run carried me a little past him, so I stopped, he went past me slightly to my right as I turned, and I grabbed at his handlebars to slow him down.  His left foot was still locked into his cleat, and he was pulling up with it to no avail.

(No, he wasn't hitting his breaks from what I could tell, or if he was, it was gentle because he didn't want to fall.  He was panicking, and I know that position/paralysis well, because I fight it off EVERY TIME I GET ON A BIKE.)

So I sidestepped and grabbed at him, which did slow him, but we grazed each other and I went down to one knee. I felt my right pinky get rattled by the spokes of his front wheel as I flailed at him, but I'd slowed him enough that I stood up, pursued a step or two, and grabbed at his bike seat from behind.  Maybe he WAS breaking -- I definitely fell, and was still able to get up and go after him within a couple of steps, and I definitely reached his bike seat too.  It was all a blur of wham, pain, fall, finger, ouch, up, grab, fall.

We went down together -- me, him, and his bike -- in a heap, his front wheel less than a foot from the highway.  Or, as my Garmin data appeared to think, in the right northbound lane of traffic.

The "S" is where the impact started after I sidestepped him, the dotted yellow line is his path, and the "F" is where we ended up after all the falling and flailing.

Not quite in traffic.  Whew.

Anyway, he was still laying down (I think his left foot was STILL attached to the pedal), with his right foot underneath the bike.  I then realized he had a wife and his daughter with him.  I hadn't seen them initially because he was ahead of them and fast-moving.  They were talking familiarly with him, and it was clear they were "together."  His daughter got his shoe and thing off the right side of the trail, and his wife was seeing how he was.  She (not him) said "thank you" about 50 times, and I just smiled, trying not to say, "Um, wtf just happened?" because, let's face it, I'd probably be afraid to just lay the bike down if I were out of control too. 

So I stood up, checked if my finger was broken from the spokes (it wasn't, it just smarted a whole damn lot), and I noticed that my Garmin was still running.  The guy already appeared to be extricating himself from under his bike, and didn't raise any need for medical attention, so I just waved as he did thank me, and took off, finishing my 10 miles.  Seriously, if he hadn't said anything, I would have thought he was more hurt, but I suspect his pride took the biggest hit.

As I ran, I thought to myself, "Aragorn would have made that look WAY cooler."

Seriously.  When Aragorn was defending the Hobbits on Weathertop, fighting Ringwraiths with a TORCH, did he fall over, flail, and say something like, "WHOOOAAAAA?"  Liv Tyler would NEVER be into him if he did that!

Instead, me and this guy fell into A PILE ON THE SIDE OF A HIGHWAY.

There's a South Park episode where hundreds of men have sex with each other to prevent illegal immigration (don't ask), and I'm pretty sure the incident resulted in us looking WAY more like them than Aragorn protecting Hobbits:

I wonder if any of the cars photographed us in OUR pile???

So anyway, that was my Memorial Day long run, and how I, on purpose, made sure that I got hit by a bike.  I don't know how I get myself into these things.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My 2014 Goal Race will be:

So I am sitting here, staring at no less than FIVE draft blog posts, all waiting to be published, but I haven't done so yet for various reasons (I want to insert a couple more pics, run some numbers, or in one case just find a really good colon diagram).  The posts involve Spring race reports, including my return to racing, a rant against "The Food Babe" as an anti-science idiot, and my colonoscopy story, or at least the story behind (ha!) it.

But in the meantime, I've been training, and plotting conditioning plans for the Fall, all the while unable to tell folks what I'd finally decided on for a Fall race.  I had three choices, which I'd described here.  

A Half Ironman fell by the wayside, because my shoulder is still giving me a little bit of trouble (rotator cuff), and the Princeton Ironman 70.3 sold out.  Rats.

I'm still eyeing some Sprint tris to keep me honest, or at least one Oly, which would likely be the Nation's Triathlon, because, while hella-expensive, it's so freaking convienent to do.

What else is left?  Trail running?  Let's bear this little fact in mind:

Obviously, as I said before, I haven't updated my blog with my trail race report, but it involved a LOT me of staring hard at the ground and realizing I was surrounded by Nature. Ick. But there was a reason I ran it in late April. Earlier that month, I'd done this:

That letter was registration for my chosen 2014 Goal Race. They don't do things over the net, they're much more "rustic."



Before I get to my reveal, I knew I had one other option, which was to pick a Fall Marathon and try to break 4 hours again, this time giving myself a TEENSY bit more wiggle room compared to the 3:59 I'd posted in October 2013 at the Marine Corps Marathon.  

But then Polar Vortex Pudge.

Kind of an actual photo of me at the end of Winter.

I gained a LOT of weight this Winter.  I bet I lost a good month of training, and about 30/seconds per mile by the time I started to claw my "weigh" (ha!) back to myself.  So marathons for time in August, September, and MOST of October were out.

Then I didn't get into the Marine Corps Marathon lottery.  I really NEEDED that race, because it was in late October, which would allow me time to make up for all that Polar Vortex homebound eating I did.  And I missed it:

Did you enjoy all those potato chips this past winter, fatty??

But I'd noticed something.  I was qualified to enter a November race I'd been eyeing for years.  I knew that I could condition myself to go long, even if it wasn't fast.  And as hard as I know it will be (DNF is a definite possibility), I knew that it would both scare me and invigorate me.  Plus, if someone WANTED to transfer me their MCM bib, I'd accept it!

But back to being scared.  Running a marathon in less than 4 hours is hard.  I trained for it, I lived it, and I did it.  Doing it again, faster, is a great goal, but I also know I'm less fired up over it if I can't do it with a timetable (late October race) that I need.

So back to staring at this November race.  I was reminded of this quote:

And with that, there's a hint.  More than just a hint.

My 2014 Goal Race is the JFK 50-miler.  That was the letter I sent.  I mailed it the day my "class" was eligible (I used to be a "B" class runner, but they've toughened up requirements, and now I'm just a "C" class runner, so I had to wait until 21 April).  And in early May, it was settled:  I'd qualified for it, I'd entered it, and I learned I was accepted into it (they take their time updating the entrant list).

Number of ultras completed so far:  0.
Number of 50Ks completed so far:  0.
Percent of you thinking I can do this:  0.

Yes, I have a training plan.  No, I don't know if it will work.  I do plan to run at least 1 50K race, but I think the important thing is where I'll do most of my long runs this summer:  The JFK 50 is VERY rocky to start, and has difficult terrain for the first 15 miles, but then, from about 15 to 41, it's the C&O canal.  Then, it's paved roads.  So terrain-wise, I need to be very cautious for the beginning, and then settle into a long, long LONG slag.  What that means to me is that I need to do most of my long runs on the C&O Canal.  Sure, I need to find rocky trails, etc, but I don't plan to run this thing for speed (duh).  I just want to finish.  And finishing will be hard enough.  Scary enough.  Enough to make me realize that a DNF is a reasonable possibility.  But that's why we do these things.  Not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

So there it is.  I'll backdate my earlier blog entries with race reports, rants, and poop jokes, but I wanted to put this out there.  

It's JFK.  But it might as well be the moon.  And I can't simply say, "Failure is not an option," because I know as with MOST things I undertake -- it's entirely possible:

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Herndon 5K Race Report

In 2013, my daughter attended a Northern Virginia School.  For their P.E. class, they were encouraged to run, walk, or even just volunteer for a 5K race .  Of course, she had a cold the week of the race, and I insisted she rest.  But, she asked me to run it, and I did.  

Incredibly, it became my 5K PR of roughly 23:50, or 7:40 per mile.

I was happy over the PR, but barely hung out post race.  Instead, I promptly left so I could drive over to her house, check up on her, and give her some of the pastries and other baked goodies from the finish area.  I didn't stick around for the awards ceremony because (while I'd finished decently fast), there were SO many bald guys ahead of me that I figured I wasn't in the top 2, so no AG award for me.  Darn.

Later that afternoon, I logged on to see:

1.  I'd finished 2nd in my AG (so yes, I made the "podium") and
2.  The guy ahead of me had only beaten me by less than 5 seconds . . . .


My daughter went to school, and someone casually handed her my AG award, which she actually draped over my neck when I saw her later.  So that was cute.  But damn.  I was almost in FIRST place.  Me!  Fatass, slow, lumbering ME.

Fast forward by one year . . . .

May of 2014 came along, but she no longer attended that school, having moved with her mom farther out into the burbs.  Still, she asked me if I was going to run it again.  I was deliberately vague.

More like Emo.

The ego-hit from the extra winter weight still bothered me, and, after all, ONE WEEK ago, I'd just run a 5K race, and missed a PR.  The Public Service 5K was a FLAT course.  This one, in the streets of Herndon, VA, was rather . . . varied.

Trust me, at a 5K pace, you feel EVERY uphill.

Moreover, the course involved LOTS of switchbacks and turns, which also tend to slow you down, as opposed to an easy out n' back course:

You start and --almost-- end on a track, but otherwise it's lots of TURN HERE, NOW HERE AND HERE.  AND HERE.

So, basically, I waffled to her.  "I'll let you know," I would say, over and over again.  "I'm still thinking about it, sweetie," I'd say, smiling, while knowing that there was almost no point in going out there.  Yet, part of me wanted to run it.  Most of me didn't.

When I woke up the morning of the race, I had a distinct "lean" on whether I was going to run the race:  I hadn't registered for it yet.  Figuring it would be an easy morning, I laid in bed and caught up on the night's prior Twitter feed.  That's when I saw it, a (re)tweet from Manuela Dumfart (that's really her name, and she's a talented operatic singer):


Dammit.  Why not go for it.  Because yes, very often you'll find yourself more disappointed by the things you did NOT do, than by the things you did.

So I raced out to Herndon, showed up at registration, chatted with the kiddo's ex-teachers and vice-principal, and was handed my bib.  After a few strides to warm up, I ambled over to the starting line, which is on their track.

One thing.  I'm not a lot of fun pre-race.  I go into game mode:

Pretty sure I lost to everyone in this picture.
To be honest, I'm probably thinking, "This was the stupidest idea you ever had since you sold all that Apple Stock pre-iTunes."

Now then, unlike my prior 5K, I did have more of a race plan for this one:

This seems well-considered.
Anyway, I was going to have to stay ahead of 7:40 per mile (for 3 miles) if I was going to PR this thing, and certainly if I was going to have ANY chance of trying for the podium again.  With that in mind, BANG, we were off!

The first part is a quarter mile dash on the track, and I immediately noted a couple of things:

1.  EVERYBODY was passing me, and

Damn.  Also, I made it about half a mile before I realized, just like last week:


Sooooo, once again, I did the little dance of trying to hold a hard pace while working the touchscreen of my Garmin ("Menu, select, NO NOT THAT ONE, dodge a pothole, select OH FFS").  But, I got it straight before reaching the first mile marker:

Mile 0-1:  7:15
If everyone else was flying, I was have been caught in their jetwash, because I was being carried along with them.  There was NO way I could hold a pace like this for 3 miles.  I immediately slowed a touch, just a bit, figuring that I might need that energy after we climbed the rolling hills I knew lay ahead.

Mile 1-2:  7:42
This was back to reality for me, although it was closer to last year's pace, so that was a nice surprise.  I worked hard, ran through water stops, even declining to grab a cup and pour it down my back in lieu of drinking it, which I will sometimes do.

Mile 2-3:  7:42
I admit being pretty happy here.  I'd already realized I was close to my previous mile's pace, and with going out gangbusters at the start, I was virtually assured a PR if I could survive mile 2-3.  I felt myself slowing just a tough, but I was still passing more people I recognized from the start, and tried to push as we headed for the final (roughly) quarter/third of a mile.

This time, unlike last week, I wasn't going to let up over egos.  There were two guys ahead of me.  One dude in a ponytail, and one bigger guy like me.  I knew I had plenty left in the tank, and made the decision to just crank.  So I started up, and quickly overtook them both, passing between them as they jockeyed with each other for an angle.

I passed them both, and then, just for a few seconds, heard footsteps.  Someone wasn't going gently. 

So I poured it on. The footsteps grew faint.  I'd done it.  I'd actually held off a challenge, and mopped the floor with them!

That line may have been written just to use this GIF.

All that was left now was a quick glance at my Gamin when HOLY CRAP

I was within striking distance of a sub-23 5K.  I would have had to REALLY go nuts, but there it was.  I had just wanted to top my PR of 23:50ish, and now I realized I got close to something I never thought I'd do.

I hit the finish, slapped to "stop" the time, and realized I'd finished faster than 23:10, or about a 7:27ish pace.


I wasn't worried about missing sub-23.  Coming so close was completely out of the question for me, and here I had actually gotten within striking distance.  I was doing (internal) backflips.

They posted the results, and, sure enough, enough "ringers" had come by that I was pushed down off the AG podium, but I just didn't care.  Although the freaking WINNER of the race was IN my AG, so that was some BS, shouldn't he just be OA?  Anyway, he was a 49-year-old guy who ran just over a 6-minute-per-mile pace, so I couldn't have overtaken him on a bike.

Race by the numbers:

Overall:  Top 12% (PARTY ROCK!)


Division:  Top 31% (WTF, SERIOUSLY, WHAT THE HELL OLD GUYS?!?!?!)

Stuff I learned:

1.  This was NOT a negative split race, but there is some science suggesting shorter distance races should have you going out faster.  Here's an article about the practice, from "Science-Based Running:" Should you start out slow in a 10K?

2.  I'm glad I pressed on towards the end, although, strangely enough, neither of the two guys I passed at the end were in my AG (one was younger, the other older).  Still, it felt good to correct a mistake I'd made a week earlier.

3.  This one is important.  Remember this sentence above? 

"So I raced out to Herndon, showed up at registration, chatted with the kiddo's ex-teachers and vice-principal, and was handed my bib." 

What does it NOT mention?



So I'm driving home, and I just casually checked my wallet.  I saw $35, which was the cost for same-day registration.  I'd brought that cash so I could avoid wasting time with a check or a credit card.  But nobody took my money, and I forgot to offer it.  I just chatted away, accepted the bib, filled out the registration info, and marched over to the start line.


"Mortified" is one way to describe how I felt.



Ok, now you're not even effing trying.

I got home, immediately typed out an e-mail to the Vice Principal, who wrote me back THAT SAME WEEKEND DAY (educators are underpaid), and said I could send a check.  

I did that day.  Because I'm pretty sure the internet police can take away your once-thought-impossible PR if you run a race without paying.