Date: February 21, 2015
Gun Time: 21:12
Chip Time: 21:06
Placing Overall: 95th out of 1207
Placing in Age Group: 7th out of 47
Theme Song: “Fat Bottomed Girls“, Queen
Well, one race was apparently not enough for me in the Florida heat, so I found myself at the Edison Festival of Light in downtown Fort Myers preparing to lace ’em up again. Frankly, it was a treat not having to run through snowbanks, and I had been taking full advantage over our vacation, going out for training whenever I could. The Edison Festival is a good time, with a bazaar, lots of food, and live music, and the family and I took full advantage of this as we waited for the late afternoon race to begin. Lots of tall skinny teenage track club types were hanging around the start line in their gear, sizing up the competition; the race is a magnet for competitors state wide and has apparently hosted a masters’ world record and an American open record in the past.
This distance was a bit more in my wheelhouse than the longer races I had been learning to run. I was a 3K and 5K runner as a youth, and I was still pretty comfortable with these types of events. I was curious to see how much of that aerobic capacity I had maintained over the years, given that I hadn’t run competitive middle distance in, oh, 25 years or so. A gentle breeze wafted through the swaying palms as the sun started to set and we were called to the start line.
Though limited to about 1200 participants, this was the largest race I had run in to date, and the spectator support was great. The 5K is run just before the Festival of Light Parade, and the streets were lined with thousands of people, cheering loudly. I had not run in this environment before and the adrenaline was surging to the point where I had to take some calming breaths before the gun and remind myself not to take off too quickly.
Having positioned myself toward the front of the pack, I settled into a fast pace as we steamed down Edwards Drive along the Caloosahatchie river. The cheering crowd was energizing and I was rolling along at about a 6:30 mile through the first third of the course.
I realized pretty quickly that my cold weather training had another flaw; namely, I was getting a bit bothered by the South Florida heat and humidity. The temperature at race time was around 74 degrees, which, while not blazing hot, was not quite what I was used to. Usually I am a bit bemused by water stations appearing on a 5K course, however I was glad to be able to use the water on my head and neck to cool down a bit as I tried to maintain a fast pace.
Rounding the last corner I dug deep and started to sprint to the finish. I could see the finish line clock was still sub 21 minutes, and though I gritted my teeth and gave it everything, I couldn’t quite get there in the 20 minutes and change I was hoping for. Here’s video of me crossing the finish line at 21:12 (I’m in the grey shirt and blue shorts to the left of the picture).
In the end, a top 100 finish was a pretty good consolation prize. I was only several seconds short of placing top five in my age category and winning an award, and out of 252 Masters’ finishers I was 12th. Plus, according to Lori the band serenaded us with Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” as our group of runners hit the finish, which I would have found hilariously ironic if I had actually heard it (I guess I was so focused on finishing I shut everything else out).
The old man can still pick ’em up and lay ’em down when he wants to, I guess.