Friday, January 9, 2009

As the years race by...

Paul's birthday was on Wednesday. He turned 35, which means different things for different people, but Paul naturally sees it through the prism of running. The 35-40 age bracket is actually MORE competitive for long distance runs (think half marathon and marathon), but it is LESS competitive for shorter distance (5K and 10K).

So, now that Paul is getting older, he needs to step up his game. Isn't that amazing? In a world where the passage of time is too often seen with fear and derision, turning older is a new challenge for Paul. He has to work harder to compete with these kick-ass 37 and 40 year old men. I love it.

One of my favorite things to see at races are the 70 year old men. They are almost always skinny as all get out, and often fast. I've been passed by balding, ancient men more than once, and not because I felt sorry for them. I tried to leave them in the dust, but instead, I ate theirs.

That's the world of running---you get kicked in the ass by the elementary school kids, then again by the social security recipients. If you're me, anyway.

I wish there was a category for just-had-baby runners. It might be my only chance EVER to place. However, even that isn't a guarantee. I've told this story before, but it's too good not to repeat.

Paul was running a 10K last April. He hadn't been training too hard, so he was pleasantly surprised with his split times. He noticed a woman racing in front of him, and recognized her from racing publicity. She's a local competitor, having won a few big races in the DC area---actual cash purses. So, she's basically kick-ass. He decides that he's going to beat her.

They battle in the sun for the first three and a half miles. Then, she picks up speed, and gains enough ground that he's never able to pass her, but he always sees her a few yards ahead. She finishes, and Paul comes on her heels, earning a personal best for the 10K.

He's pretty proud of himself, keeping pace with a racing professional. He's running with the elite few. We're hanging around afterwards, as he eats his bagels and waits for the award ceremony.

The race director announces the winners, and then has this to say: "We're especially pleased to present this award to [name of woman that beat Paul]. She ran a good race, especially for having just had a baby ten weeks ago."

Do you hear the sound of Paul's bubble bursting? That's pride, brother. He knows that he would not have kept pace with her if she was 100%. Running keeps you humble.

I like to think, though, that that woman is motivation for Paul, as he creaks out of bed at 4:00 AM to get his runs in. Someday, someday, he will kick that mother's ass. Maybe when he's 70.

No comments: