The Third Man


My 5K this past Saturday was the first one that actually felt like a struggle.  The entire run took place over open pavement, with no trees or shade, and at the end of day where the temperature hit the mid-80s.  And some of that pavement was fairly new blacktop, all nice and toasty and covering most of the last half of the race.  It got to me.  I skipped one of my run intervals late in the race.  But I finished at a run — with a little assist from some well-timed music on my headphones — and while it wasn’t near my best 5K time, I actually managed to finish third out of the men in my age group.

Out of the three men in my age group.

I mention that only out of amusement, not to diminish what I did.  Because yes, you can be all pessimistic and say I was technically last in my age group.  But you know who was actually last?  Everybody who sat on their asses and didn’t run at all.  I didn’t break any records, but I didn’t break either.  I didn’t quit.  When it would have been easy to just give in and walk the whole thing, I kept at my intervals as best I could.  And I finished.  The medal I got for finishing third was nice, I won’t lie, but I could have walked out of there with nothing around my neck and felt like I’d accomplished something.  Beyond nearly giving myself heat stroke.

I’ve got a 10K in about ten days, and the rough patch I had in this last race has me a little bit intimidated for it.  I’ve done the distance before — hell, I’ve walked seven or eight miles plenty of times — but not with a bunch of other people.  And the race schedule shows the run starting at 8:00 AM and the closing ceremony at 9.  Are they expecting us to be done in an hour?  I know I don’t have that in me.  But I do have four 5Ks under my belt now, and It’s early in the morning, so I know it’ll be cooler.  So I’ll buckle down and do it.  It’s a waste of $30 otherwise, aside from the shirt they’re giving us.

And as long as only two other guys aged 45 to 50 run it, I’m guaranteed to finish third again.

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