It has been a long time but I still remember the day that I came home through the garage door into the laundry room kicked my shoes off and shouted “Honey, I just ran one mile!!! Did not stop once, it felt hard but now it feels amazing”. Still on-the-high of that morning’s run I started searching for a 5K race in our city that was two – three months away to allow for proper training.
I found one! I signed up and got the T-shirt to prove it! After 12 weeks of training I lined up at the start line. This was an inaugural race and a very small one. Only 187 runners participated. Among them my oldest son, my daughter, my nephew and his girlfriend. They had all been inspired by my excitement about running and had signed up and trained for the race.
It was the first Saturday of June and in the Southeastern United States it can be pretty hot and humid and It Was! I remember it was 82 degrees and about 100% humidity it was the kind of weather you want to be by the pool or at the beach not running on asphalt.
The horn went off and the race clock started ticking. Runners and walkers alike took off on a grassy area that circled a pond and you could feel the heat rising from the ground. About half a mile in the race we had cleared the pond and the grass and now we were running on asphalt. At this point I was feeling great. I was passing runners left and right, literally.
A mile in the race and I started feeling out of breath. I had started the race too fast for my abilities. When that happens you are using precious energy all too fast and guess what? You don’t have enough to finish the race. By the time I reached the water/aid station (mile 1.5) I was walking. Grabbed a cup water thanked the volunteers and took off running again having recovered some after walking. It did not last very long and I was walking again. That went on till we turned the last corner and I could see the Finish line. People, family and friends were standing by and were cheering on the runners as they were turning in for the final 250 yards of the race.
The Finish Line
Out of nowhere my energy came back. Felt strong almost as strong as I felt at the beginning of the race. In front of me was a guy about my age and my competitive-spirit whispered to me as it didn’t want him to hear “you’ve got to pass this dude” and I tried, I gave it all and as soon as I got next to him the dude started speeding up. With 25 yards left we were both at all-out speed and he got in front of me right at the Finish. I didn’t care. I just ran a 5K, I finished a Race. I was a winner! I had ran (and walked) it at 32’40”. The short race came to the end quickly and they announced through the loud speaker that it was time for the awards.
I got hooked
They were doing what is called three deep Age Group Awards and Overalls. The overalls are 1st 2nd and 3rd Overall Male and Female and the Age Group is normally in 5 year increment groups for male and female separate. They started with the overall winners and then moved to the Age Groups. When they got to mine the first guy in my A.G. had also placed in the Overall category so he was skipped which means it gave my group’s 4th guy a placement in the 3rd place and an award. They started to announce 1st place then 2nd place and 3rd place. Nope, none of these names matched mine but honestly did not expect it. But wait….the 3rd place guy is walking up to get his award and picture with our Age Group….that’s the dude. The guy that beat me at the Finish Line. His time 32′.38″ he got me by 2″.
On the drive back home all these thoughts were running through my head….What if I had walked 5 steps less….What if I didn’t stop for water….What if I hadn’t started as fast? I would be going home with an award today. I was so close! That did not really bother me but it light a fire in me. Later the same day I started looking for my next 5K race. I was hooked!
This is how it all got started. A few years fast forward, I crossed the finish line at the Bad Marsh 50K Trail Ultra-marathon (that is 31.07 miles). By that time I had run several races mostly 5Ks, a couple of 10Ks and a couple of Half Marathons.