Although I have been running fairly consistently since 2001, I have never actually run in a race.
I leave my house. I run around like an idiot for a while, and then I come back home.
But on St. Patrick’s Day, I headed off for the sprawling metropolis of Newry, PA (pop. 245 if you count the cars travelling through as well) for a 5K race to benefit St. Patrick’s Parish and school. I’m not really sure why running races are generally listed in kilometers rather than miles, but the end result is that for those of us who generally measure our distances in miles, we have no idea how far that is.
Apparently, it is 3.1 miles. Would it kill them to just have a three-mile race?
When I go out and run, I run for six miles. Or seven miles. If I’m short on time, it might be three or four miles. But it isn’t 6.2 miles (10K) or 3.1 miles. What the hell am I supposed to do with that 0.1 mile anyway? It’s like adding insult to injury. You’ve just run like a bear’s been chasing you for three miles, and now you have to go another 0.1 mile? Why? Apparently the bear hasn’t given up and is on the metric system.
Anyway, I am new to this race thing. A race virgin if you will. I show up at the registration table and get my packet, which includes a map of the race route and a number to pin on my shirt, either to identify my body later or perhaps to allow me to find sponsors like they do in NASCAR.
Here’s Todd, running in number 118, sponsored by Viagra. I’m glad I didn’t wear the spandex shorts this morning.
I also got a green T-shirt with the race logo on the front and the race sponsors on the back. My office sponsored this race, and sure enough, our name is there. They even spelled ophthalmology right.
There’s also a little plastic card with holes–a chip. You apparently tie this to your shoe and it tracks your time from when you cross the starting line until when you finish. For some reason, it made me feel like Lindsay Lohan. I was afraid if I strayed too far from the race, I’d set off an alarm and get arrested. Or shocked. Or both.
So I managed to tie the plastic chip on my shoe and pin my number on my shirt without drawing blood. I am all ready to go.
There is no gun to start the race. I really wanted a gun. But alas, there was a guy with a bull horn yelling “runners, set, go!”
And we went.
It was like Black Friday at Wal-Mart or the mall at Christmas time when one small shipment of the latest techno gadget must be distributed amongst 30,000 angry customers who were in line since last Christmas to get it.
I didn’t know where to start. Should I try to be at the beginning, and risk getting run over by some 18-year-old track star, or should I start at the back, and work my way past grandmothers in wheelchairs. There was a miniature dachshund running the race, I kid you not. If you figure his little legs move him about three inches per step, his little paws had to work 65,472 times to complete the race, which the little guy did. My dachshund walks a mile and a half and his tongue drags on the ground if he doesn’t keep his head up. But I digress.
I came in second in the men’s 40-49 age group, which is odd given that I am only 39 and will continue to be for some time. My race time was 24:24 by my GPS watch. I got a faux silver medal for my effort.
For someone who has never run a race, never really specifically trained for a race and doesn’t know what to do with that extra 0.1 mile, I considered the result a success. I generally run 7 miles in about an hour, so my time was a little better than I usually do. I really had no training regimen. I kept running my usual schedule. The only speed work I do is when a dog chases me. I don’t know a fartlek from a furlong. I do think that farting helps you along–jet propulsion so to speak, and it keeps annoying runners from drafting too close behind you.
After the race, there were refreshments (I couldn’t find a drop of green beer, much to my dismay) and some eats that were quite good. The weather was great, the racers all seemed very nice, and it was for a good cause.
Maybe my next race, I’ll try a 10K.
But what will I do with that extra 0.2 mile????