Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sometimes you just have to show up . .

That's probably a great life lesson!

No doubt about it, I'm a slow runner!  I try.  I train . . . sort of.  But I'm the president of the "Back of the Pack Club."  And it doesn't upset me calling our club meetings to order in a marathon or ultra.  Quite frankly it's fun!

But every so often I get this weird feeling inside.  One I don't get very often.  Competitiveness.  And not just competitiveness with myself and my past times.  I want to outrun somebody . . . anybody!

When I run those longer distances, I need to simply drink a beer and go take a nap . . . the feeling will pass.  First, there are just too many really good 60+ runners out there.  And they all show up for these marathons and ultras.

But my discovery is that these fast, senior runners may NOT show up for a 5k.  Plus, at a 5k there are usually plenty of new runners that are struggling just to finish a 3.1 mile run . . . forget the speed!  Ahhhh . . . victims . . . er . . . competitors!

OK . . . I haven't gotten my speed up where I can really be competitive, but for right now it sure feels good passing people!  And the perfect format for making me feel competitive was yesterday's Skirtchaser 5k in Raleigh!  A race of over 700 folks!

The format plays right into my hand.  The women start the race first.  The men have to wait 3 minutes, then we start.  Now . . . three things happen (all of which also work to my advantage!).  First, the women that are planning on walking the 5k are starting in front of me so I get to pass them like they are walking!!  Second, many of the women run the first part of the race slow so their partners and friends can catch up to them . . . ahhh more passing!  And third, some of the women intentionally hang back just to have fun with the guys!

So . . . at yesterday's race I started passing people early and kept passing them the whole way!  I was smokin'!!  Truth be known, probably everyone I passed was either a walker, a first-time racer or a very new runner!  Still . . . I passed them!

Sure, my final 5k time was almost a minute slower then the 5k I ran a week ago.  But . . .it was hotter . . . annnnd . . . the course had more hills . . . annnd . . . I had to weave through all those other runners I was passing . . . annnnd . . .well, I'm sure there are more excuses I could come up with if I thought more about it!

But there was one person I didn't pass that I perhaps could have . . . and his name is Ron Weidenfeller.  I've never met Ron . . . I'm sure he is a really great guy.  But he beat me . . . and by ONLY 15 seconds!   15 seconds!!!!!  15 seconds between me and my destiny.  A first place finish!  15 freakin' seconds!  I'm SURE I had 15 seconds in me.  Damn it!

But I did get second place . . . just by showing up.  No other 60-64 year olds!  And I would have placed #3 of 6 in the 55-59 age group.

There was one 65-69 year old and one 70-79 year old (both beat me!), but I kick one 80 year old's ass!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What was I thinking . . .

I'm dreading this.  I remember 5Ks hurt!  Yea . . . but I'm excited too!  First 5K in 15 years!  Wonder who is showing up for this race?  Don't see many my age!  Hope they all are running the 10K.

Oh no . . . there's Tom Thurman.   Bet he's doing the 5  . . . he'll kill it.  No way I can keep up with him.  Wish this thing would start . . . I'm tired of sitting around.

Finally . . . they're calling us to the start.  I knew it . . . there's Tom.  Damn!

What . . . no starting mat?  Time starts with the gun.  Crap.  I need to move to the front then.  No . . . that's not fair to to the faster runners.  Okay . . . I'll split the distance.  This looks close enough.  Only giving up a few seconds.

Finally . . .running!  All right! Don't go too fast here.  Keep it close to your 9:15 target.  At least the temps are OK.  Don't see anyone my age around me.  Stay focused.  Relax.  Breath deep and steady.

Hey . . . that's Michael and his two kids just up there a little way.  I can't let them beat me . . . I'd never hear the end of it.  Caroline is fast!  And Henry is too for his age.  Ahhh . . . I'm catching 'em.

"Hey Michael!  This is my big chance!  I'll never get the chance to beat you in a race again!" Thank God he's running with his kids, or he would smoke me bad!  Still . . nice to pass someone!

OK . . . mile marker coming up.  OK . . . 8:46.  Too damn fast!  But not too bad.  Relax . . . stay smooth.  This is getting hard!  Breathing too hard, lungs burning  No . . . stay positive.  You knew this would happen.  Just back off a tad.  Yea . . . that's better.  Hope I haven't gone out too fast.  Hurting too much, too early.  No wind.  This is going to suck!  Folks have spread out some.

Almost to Battle Park . . . Damn, we've got that steep little hill to climb.  Tight turn.  Down, then up the hill.  Come on . . . it's not very long . . . just slow up a bit and shorten your stride.  Take what it gives you . . .  You do this every day.  I'm dying!  Can't breathe! A little walk break would sure feel good.  NO WALKING! Ahh . . .  the top!  Aid station . . . Get water?  No . . . pass it by.  Take advantage of the downhill.  I wonder how far it is to the turnaround cone.  There it is . . . not far.

More downhill . . . use it!  Wonder where that damn 2 mile marker is?  Run the tangent on this curve.  Good.  Damn, I'm hurting.  Lungs are the worst, just no wind.  Stay positive.  Another aid station.  Pass it by.  Good . . . passed three at that station! Ease up on this uphill.  Damn, where is that mile marker?  Will this hill ever end?  Come on . . . it's only maybe 200 yards and not that steep.  Get your mind right!

How can it be that girl is ahead of me?  I should be WAY ahead of her!  I can beat her

I'm dying . . . this uphill.  I've got to walk.  NO!  No walking!  But I've got to walk!  No . . . just keep running!  Hold on . . . I'm walking!  Damn!  I said I wouldn't do that.  Okay, run again at the shadow just ahead.  OK . . . no more walking no matter what . . . only walked about 15 yards . . . not terrible.  And no one passed me.  But no more walking!

Finally . . . the top of the hill.  I remember that hill from the half-marathon.  No more hills 'till the end.  Must passed the 2 mile marker.  Hey . . . I'm wearing my Garmin . . . I'm an idiot!  OK, 2.7 miles and I'm averaging just over 9:00.  Hope my heart doesn't explode!  All that blood!  That would freak everyone out for sure!  I should be under 30 minutes!  Yea . . . I've got that!  Don't let anyone old guys pass you.  Don't see any ahead. Just relax . . .

She looks a little further from me . . .  crap.  No sweat, I'll just "nip" her at the finish.  No way she can beat me!  Look at her!  She may not even make it!

Finally, just one more turn . . . damn this uphill.  Can't breath!  I'm dying.  Hurts!. 

OK . . .you can rest in a just a few more seconds.  Catch her!  Goooo!  Faster . . . move those legs!!! I'm going to die before the finish line.  Can't breathe.

Damn . . . how can she do that?  She's going to beat me!  Damn!!!

Well . . . at least I can stop running now!  I did it!  Under 30!  Yes!

Okay . . . now I can rest!  Wonder if I did it?  Hope they post the times early.  Maybe.  How many men over 60 were in this?  I didn't see many.  What was my time?

Oh CRAP . . . stop your Garmin!  Wonder how long I've been finished?  Maybe 30 seconds . . . Need to get some water.  Ahhhh . . . better then a beer . . . almost.


So . . . that was pretty much how it went.  I finished in 28:29 I believe.  Under my 30 goal for the race.

I guess I've run in 200-300 races in my life  No 5Ks in 15 years, but still have run plenty of races, big and small.  But up until today I had NEVER won an age group award in a real race.  Ever!  People don't believe me but it's true.  Even in very small 5K races when I was running close to my 5K PR of 20:01 I never placed.  And since then in small 10K races and longer . . . nothing . . . nada!

But now . . . I've broken through!  3rd place in 60-65 age group!  Finally, I was called to go to the podium to get something!!!!  Sweet!  I should be embarrassed . . . but I'm not!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Hi!  My name is Frank and I am an addict!

It's been obvious really for quite some time, but it is time I faced it . . . head on.  I am addicted to long distance running.  And that is not a good thing!

Running itself can and even used to be an addiction of mine, but like a drug addict may move from crack to heroin, I too have moved up the addiction ladder to more, and more powerful stimulants.  Early on I loved running and racing 5ks and 10ks!  Several of us would travel around the area developing our collection of shirts and PRs

One of my goals was to run a sub-20 5k.  I came close often but never was able to break into the teens (20:01 was my best!).  I don't really believe I followed any structured program to improve my times, but I did speed work often . . . and endurance really wasn't much of an issue.

My movement up the addiction chain began quite simply.  After our regular noon run at the Y one day in 1982, someone came up with the brilliant idea of training together for a marathon.  Almost everyone jumped on board, and so we trained for a fall marathon . . . NY for most but Marine Corp for me.  My goal was a sub-4 hour marathon.  Looking back on it, had I achieved that goal I probably could have quit right then.  But that didn't happen.  So I had to do another one, just so I could meet my time goal.

After a bunch of years lost running due to poor medical advice, I finally started back running . . . and I just HAD to run a marathon to know I was "back".  Then I did another marathon, then another.  After a bunch of marathons, my friend Cam Kelly turned me to the "dark side" by convincing me I needed to try a 50k.  Another step up the addiction chain.  Ultra marathons.

Now, it's been 15-16 years since I have run a 5k race.  And one 10k 7 years ago.  Since then, I believe I've only run two races shorter then a marathon (a 15-mile trail run and an 11-miler).  I'm stuck in this "marathon or more addiction . . .  Run a half marathon?  Ugh!  Like kissing your sister.  It's a full marathon or nothing!

But the real problem comes by "mixing" my long distance running addiction with getting older.  I'm slowing down as I get older.  Plus, I slow down to finish the longer distances I run.  And running slower just brings on more slower running.  I walk more.  And then, it just becomes easier mentally to walk again.  And again. And again.

But I am repenting . . . somewhat.  This coming weekend I've entered my first 5k race in 15 years!  I've been "trying" to do some minor speed work but that just plain hurts! I'm stuck running basically one speed!  Slow!  When I try to pick up the pace I go anaerobic within 1 minute, and my lungs explode after 2 minutes!  I have no idea what my 5k pace should be!  Honestly!  I think I'll try to go out at a 9:00 pace and just see what happens.  I'm just hoping I can finish in under 30 minutes!

All I remember is 5ks hurt!

Will this break the addiction? Probably not . . . but it is a step.  Wonder if there is such a thing LDAA . . . Long Distance Addicts Anonymous?  If any of you know of interesting 5k race  around here, please let me know about them . . . my computer can only search for races of 26.2 or further.

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Littleton, North Carolina
World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.