Gun Time: 41:55
Chip Time: 41:55
Placing Overall: 70th out of 267 entrants
Placing in Age Group: 15th out of 27 (M 35-39)
Theme Song: Sloan, “Everything You’ve Done Wrong”
It all began with one of our volunteers at work asking me if I was a runner.
At the time, I hadn’t done anything competitive sports wise since my teens, other than the family softball tournament every summer which barely counts as exertion (and yet still managed to render me flabbily exhausted year after year). But, since I would from time to time haul my 20-pounds-overweight self onto a treadmill and churn out a couple of miles (mostly in a vain attempt to counter the caloric content of all the alcohol I was drinking), I of course puffed out my chest and replied that I was.
Good, she said, because the Cambridge Mill Race is next month and the proceeds are going to the hospital. You should sign up.
Cornered thusly, I agreed to do so, figuring my fitness level wasn’t that bad.
Of course, the fact that I capitulated didn’t inspire me to do anything different, at least not really. I might have done a couple of extra 15 minute sessions on the hamster wheel, but I think I felt at the time that my ancient history as a runner and my natural athleticism (snort) would pull me through the event. The fact that the Cambridge Mill, a rather swank local restaurant, was catering the post-race meal admittedly played a large part in my decision to enter. That should give you a pretty good idea of where my head was.
The day dawned cool and overcast, and after watching the kids burn through the 1K fun run, Fat Dad trotted to the starting corral to give it his best shot. I began the race lined up right at the start line with, you know, those guys who could actually run. And dammit, at the gun I shot forward like a paunchy cheetah after an overdose of amphetamines. I held my own against those guys.
For two blocks. You can likely guess what happened next.
I remember getting to the 2K marker and thinking “Holy shit. I may have made a slight miscalculation here.” The gasping for breath was what clued me in, along with the rapidly slowing pace and wanting to puke.
Thankfully for me, this part of the course was fairly flat, so aside from the ignominy of being passed repeatedly by, like, everyone, I was able to gut out the next 3K or so. Eventually, I looked around and realized a former student of mine had come up beside me. He was a very respectful young guy I had always enjoyed teaching, as well as an ex-military man. Our conversation went something like this:
Him: “Hey, Dr. M, how’s it going?”
Me: (Unintelligible gasping reply)
Him: “Good day for a run, huh? Not too hot. Lori and the kids here?”
Me: (More gasping)
Him: “Well, have a good race!”
Me (thinking): Please don’t throw up in front of him. Oh god, please don’t throw up.
Off he headed, and I was alone once again with my hubris.
Then, at 6.5K, another horror. Someone put a huge hill in the middle of the course. It really wasn’t that huge, but it seemed like fucking K2 was between me and the finish line at the time. All I could think of was “Who the fuck put THAT fucking thing there?” I may have cursed their descendants to be visited with the fleas of a thousand camels as well, I don’t really remember.
On the heels of that was the thought, “I am NOT walking.”
Anyhow, somehow I dug deep and slowly made my way to the top, and eventually hauled myself across the finish line. The kids, unconcerned, piled on me, little realizing how close Daddy was to a crippling coronary. Here’s a great shot of Fat Dad in the throes of agony:
The funny thing is, once I recovered, and realized all the mistakes I made, I realized how much I missed the competition. My time wasn’t all that bad (though the race itself nearly killed me). It was the start of something, although I do remember thinking at some point during the race that anything beyond 10K was going to be impossible for me. It was only later that I would learn the value of preparation and would realize that , indeed, more was not only possible, but inevitable.