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.