Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Coldwater Jingle Bell 5K

On a frosty morning this past Saturday, Doris and I bundled up in multiple layers (I am surprised I could bend a single joint--I don't like to be cold--so I was wearing lots of layers!), and headed North. It felt like we were going to the North Pole, but we stopped just short--at Coldwater. Appropriately named, as far as I was concerned. And I was concerned, it was like, twenty degrees! Lions and tigers and bears (frozen ones), oh, my!

I like my snow, yes, but I prefer it when I'm inside and it's outside. In any case, I struggled out of the car (remember, I'm wearing layers and can hardly bend), and waddled into the registration area. Getting that far was the first success.

If it wasn't for the fact that there were folks there who know me (starting with my wife), I think I'd have declared victory, waddled back to the car, and driven home. But I do have my pride, so with a smile frozen on my face (literally), I pinned on my number and began dreading going outside again in earnest.

Amidst all those other loons, however, I did feel strangely at home. We're all nuts, together.

Then we bumped in to Katie and Joelle. Now I really can't quit. I'd never hear the end of it. Both ladies were very positive, taking the weather in stride, ready to go. So, I manned up (no choice), and waddled outside to the starting line.

A horn goes off, and the whole mass starts forward. Must have been a false alarm, for ten seconds later the whole mass puts it in reverse. I didn't even have to move my feet; you know how it is being in the middle of a tightly packed crazy bunch of runners on race day. You just kind of get swept along like so much flotsam and jetsam, until the mob loses critical mass and you actually have to start ambulating under your own steam.

The horn sounds off again, and this time the tide flows in only one direction. After a block or two I'm no longer being carried along by the surge, so I begin to run, looking for an appropriate pace. After getting nearly run over by a couple of ten-year-olds, I decide maybe that pace was not appropriate, and pick it up a tad. No sign of Doris, Katie, or Joelle.

Within the first mile, my breathing is ragged enough that a couple folks around me begin to wonder if perhaps someone ought to call 911. The smile is still frozen on my face, so I just look over their way and shake my head, 'no, I always breathe this way.'

Numbskulls! Of course they ought to call 911! I'm just too proud to say that.

Anyway, whoever laid out the course was an expert in torture. The first two miles were all straight streets. You could see runners ahead of you, disappearing below the curve of the horizon. Okay, maybe it was just a hill. But at least you could see that the finish line was not in sight. But the last mile, it was 'run a block, turn, run a block, turn, run a block, turn'. Now perhaps that is meaningless to you, but for me, I imagined the finish line was just around each block. I got all my hopes up, only to have them dashed with each hard left or right.

But the worst was yet to come. You see, for the last half of the race, I was slowly overtaking this person in front of me. Slowly, but surely. At about the two-and-a-half mile spot, I finally passed them. Her, I should say. It was a lady. Got out about twenty feet in front of her, but could not lose her. Heard those feet slappin' down, right behind me. Always right behind me. Drove me nuts. So, I turned it up a crank. (By now I sounded like Darth Vader without his cool mask - you know the scene in the final movie: 'Dad, I'll save you.' [awful breathing sound] 'S-son, you already have, you already have. . .')

And I began to run out of steam. Actually, that's not true. I had run out of steam shortly after the mob stopped carrying me at the [second] starting horn.

Not sixty feet from the finish line that lady cruised right past me. Couldn't even hear her breathing. How humiliating. And then I heard her tell the race administrators when they were putting her in the proper age bracket, that she was 61. That's really embarrassing, hope nobody saw that.

All in all, it was a cold day. But I'm glad I did it. All four of us (Doris, Joelle, Katie) finished the race - that's what's important. Nobody needs to know that I was waxed by a sixty-one year old lady.

[Certain details of this post have been, ah, edited for the sake of humor, as what actually happened was far less interesting. . . unfortunately, the details about the 61 year old lady are not among them.]


  1. Love your account, little brother. But remember -- 61 is not that much older than what you are! You'll be there soon enough. And who knows what youngsters you'll be passing if you keep up the good work.

    Parts of your account remind me of my century ride around Cayuga Lake -- which wasn't a race, thank heavens, but the same masses of people propelling one forward, losing one's teammates right off the bat, anticipating the finish line or at least a pit stop each time one rounds a corner...

  2. Hey sis. I have six long years before 61. Long, long, long years. On the flip side of the coin, however, it becomes easier to place in these races the older you get. Less competition. Pretty easy to come in third if there are only three in your age group.

    Your hundred mile ride around lake whatsit is more similar to a marathon then to my little 5k stroll. That was an amazing accomplishment!

    Some of us are talking about participating in a marathon as a relay next year. Sitting in my warm dining room wearing my bunny slippers, it sounds like an interesting project. I am quite sure, however, my sanity will return to me as the date draws nigh.