There’s no way around it, I was feeling pretty husky on Saturday morning. The horn sounded at the Bear Mountain Half Marathon and when no one else seemed willing, I took the lead and set the pace. At forty-three, you’ve got to take these opportunities when they present themselves and though it was only the second time in my life that I had done so, I felt pretty damned good to be out there leading instead of following. If nothing else, I was going to give myself a chance to win.
Victory wasn’t in the cards. There was an aid station about four miles in and as I stopped to suck down some Gatorade and water, some guy in all black (like myself only much younger) hopped into the lead. I wasn’t all that sorry to give it up, there was a long, mostly flat, section coming up and I thought I’d be better served waiting to make a decisive move in the hillier sections.
As it turned out, this guy dropped me pretty good about three miles into the flat section. He just had better wheels. Eventually I lost contact but kept my place, coming across the line in 1:49.
One of the better races of my life, I was a little bit full of myself. Especially after someone put a microphone in front of me and actually asked about the race. That was pretty cool, given the anonymity in which we all pursue this running thing.
Then it was time for the awards to be given out and Dean Karnazes showed up. If you don’t know who he is, check out his book Ultramarathon Man. No matter how hard you’ve worked at a physical goal, his story will make you feel like a piker. Not in a bad way, he’s just a very sick dude.
So, I’m there in the audience, jacked an pumped with my finish and he gets up there and says, “Well, I just got finished running a 200 miler so I’m a little tired.” I could feel the air escape my ballooning ego in a rush. Suddenly, my 13.1 miles over hill, rock and roots didn’t seem so heroic. This was later confirmed when I arrived home, wearing my new silver medal and barely got a “hello” from my son who was lost in a computer game. I put the medal where I’ve got all my others and went out to work on the lawn. Just another middle-aged guy in the ‘burbs.
It was a thrill to lead, I’m grateful to come in second and I’m really not doing this to impress anyone (even my son). The point is, because of guys like Karnazes, I’ve been inspired to turn myself into something very different than the overweight, cottage cheese stomach man that couldn’t get his suitpants on four years ago. I’ve got no problem fitting into my pants today and everything after that is gravy.