Dad: “See, Quint, so what happened was this. I decided I would just go out with the really fast people and just rely on my natural God given speed to pass them all at the finish. It went pretty much according to plan, and that’s how your daddy won the race.”
Quint: “Did you win a Gold medal.”
Dad: “I sure did.” (Showing him my finishing medal that every participant receives.)
Quint: So why were all of those people in front of you when you finished.”
Dad: “Ok, see, right…ok, right…see what happened was this, when they start the race, they let all of the really slow people go out first, and THEEEEN they let all of the fast people, like your dad, go out an hour later. So what you saw was your daddy catching up with all of the really slow people, get it.”
Quint: “Dad, you’re the best. High five!”
Dad: “That’s right boy, now go tell your mother and sister. High five!”
Before the Race
A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me when was the last road race that I had run. After thinking long and hard, I remembered that I had won a 5k for my age group…when I was 9! Thus, participating in an actual race before my marathon was important. Through some luck and a couple of good connections, I was able to secure a bib for the Army Ten Miler just days before the actual event. I drove to the DC Armory, found an illegal parking space, ran in, picked up my bib, my shirt, my hat and my information packet. Then I went home to figure it all out.
Later that night, I pinned my number on my shirt, attached the little electronic thingy on my shoe, which is supposed to track my progression through the race, laid out my clothes, packed some food, Gatorade, and…then I remembered…I am only going 10 miles…so I unpacked the food, put away the Gatorade fell fast asleep.
Day of The Race
Let me just say that just going to this race was an education!
Are all of these people really here to run 10 miles? The actual count was 30,000 people making it the largest 10 miler in the country. After taking a little time to get adjusted to all of the folks, I found my place in the starting order, and then I just stood around and waited…for about 40 minutes.
Lesson #1: “GO” doesn’t really mean “GO”!
Finally the voice over the loud speaker is ready to send us on our way.
On your mark, get set, GO! And now… we’re just walking. I guess when you tell 30,000 people to go at the roughly the same time, “GO” really means WAIT, you will be going soon enough.
Lesson #2: Everyone Isn’t Going to Run the Same Speed
I had been warned that getting around people can be something of a challenge but this was ridiculous! I completely underestimated that there would be groups of people running shoulder to shoulder at about half my pace. Getting around them was like a bad game of Frogger! Just when you start to feel a little bit comfortable, BAM! You have to stop, stutter step or almost go completely across the street to get past people.
Lesson #3: I Think I Hate Everyone
I really do appreciate all of the people coming out to support the runners, but can I ask one simple favor? Don’t say stupid stuff. I mean if you are standing on the 8 mile marker, please don’t tell me “You’ve gone 8 miles, 2 more to go!” I can read. And even worse, if you’re standing next to the 9 Mile marker, don’t tell me that I have 500 yards to go! According to that 9 Mile Marker that you have chosen to rest your Latte on, I have exactly 1 mile to go!
I know… it’s me, I’m probably a little bitter. My apologies.
Lesson #4: Enjoy It While It Lasts
Before I knew it, the race was over. I was heading over the 14th Street Bridge, quick little turn to the right, and I saw The Finish Line. It felt really good. I had already forgotten about the slow runners, the 8th grade band playing Freebird and the dummies at Mile Markers 8 and 9; now I was done!
Lessons learned and now I can really looking forward to running the Marine Corps Marathon in 3 weeks.