Sunday, September 29, 2013

Berserker

Shotgun. Something exploded. Actually I don’t think there was a starting pistol fired, it was probably an electronic tone signaling the start of the race. Whatever. Crosstown Classic 10K. Something exploded inside me. I had toed the very front of the starting line because nobody else seemed like they were going to come up to the front. Of course I rarely am at the front of a race. What do you even do there? How do you start a race first? How are you supposed to act? How fast do you go? What do I look like from behind? I am certain I look like a fool. One big idiot that doesn’t know what he’s doing. 'And why the hell is this guy starting this race at the front of the pack?' My thoughts exactly buddy. I just tried not to trip over my own feet. Sometimes you just do things.


The race started and I went berserk. At least berserk relative to what I would have done had I used a few more precious cells of gray matter (never mind the forethought of having some semblance of a race strategy). Nope, I just ran like a scared rabbit (with some anatomical asymmetry going on) being chased by more graceful and conditioned race hounds. I went berserk. And it worked. For roughly a half mile I led that race. I was pushing paces I’m certain I’ve NEVER run before. Ever. And there I was, starting out a 10K. Yeah. Smart. Real smart. Big, dumb, idiot.

But I didn’t care. I went into the race without much of a goal other than, yeah why not see if we can break 39 minutes today.  Why not.  I had PR’d in 10K last month, so why not be a little wild with today’s race. I had a rough and big week in my work and personal life. I deserved some crazy, go-wild racing. It’s been a long time since I totally acted like a freaking newbie runner who gets up in front of everyone at the start who must then in turn find an annoying way to go around me in the first quarter-mile. I’ve been acting proper for too long. Smart racing is lame. And boring.

About 400 meters in I glanced at my watch which said something like 5:08 pace.  Oh holy effing schneikies. No wonder no one was in front of me. I got scared. I knew I would die soon but I didn’t want to just let it go either. I was approaching elite marathon distance paces!!!  Woohoo! I could hold that for another 200 meters I was pretty sure. Sometimes you just do things! For a few brief moments I wondered what it would be like to win a race. First place, wow. That would just be the bomb. My first race ever was a 10K. I ran it in 53:38. That was over 12 years ago. I could retire from running and be completely satisfied with my career. Whew.

Reality check. Mile one: 5:40. That was what I did in the first mile of my last 5K. I had 5.2 miles to go. I just wanted to pull off to the side and take a nap. Or throw up. In the second half of the first mile I was passed by two others. Okay, 3rd place would suffice. I’ll take it. Yes please. Sign me up.  Why did I sign up for this race again? Okay, let’s not let ANYONE else pass. Oops, there goes another person. Alright 4th.  Let’s do this.  Holy cow this guy passing me looks like he is 20 years younger than me. What is he thinking?

My pace calmed down. I was running where I wanted to be. Right around 6:15 now. Good. It even felt almost comfortable. Although I was breathing hard. Harder than I’d prefer. It felt off. I hope I don’t have an asthma attack. It seemed likely. Grabbed a cup of water and even got a few ml’s into my mouth. I just needed something to wet the inside of my mouth. Keep pushing. Just hang on. You banked some time with that crazy first mile, don’t squander it now by slacking off. Okay, got this.  5th place is still nice. Has a nice ring to it. 5th.  5th.  Woo yeah I like it.

Miles 4 and 5 the wheels really came off.  Well not so much.  I mean my pace dropped dramatically, disgustingly dramatically, but I still felt like I was pushing it at the same pace.  But I wasn’t.  I was toast. I committed suicide in mile one and this was the afterlife. But don’t become that joke Ken. Don’t be that guy. Don’t be that idiot that led the first half mile and then ends up coming in 1089th.  Oh man I can hear the thoughts of those dailymilers, “Yeah, see I knew it. This guy is a real prick.”  “What a moron!” Please, please don’t do that to yourself Ken. Run dirtbag, run! It’s going to suck, but you need to pick it up now. We may not even break 39.  It sounded so easy a few minutes ago. So very easy and tangible. It probably would have been too if I had just used my head like a real human.

Last 1.2. Okay. Familiar territory. It’s time to give it the last few drops of life force and take it home. Speaking of home. Yes, home. In a mere few minutes I’d be enjoying my walk home. It was so close now. I got my pace back on track. I was just running now. I wasn’t sprinting like I’d like to be. I didn’t have any kick left. But I was running. I thought I was in fifth place still, and it felt good. But I knew someone was behind me. Just go, finish it up. End it already.

Starting line was the finish line. It was in sight. I crossed the finish and fumbled with my watch. My mind was a blur. It took me 3 seconds to stop my watch. I pull over to the railing and hang on. It was done. Watch said 38:53. Officially 38:49. (I later found out I came in 6th overall.  I can’t figure out when or where I got passed by a fifth person, but whatever.) I was happy to be done. It was a real-live, honest-to-goodness berserker PR. It felt like the best race of my life. Being chased by an angry mob is way more exciting than easing gently down on the accelerator.  My lungs weren’t feeling right. I was exhausted. My legs were rubber. I gave it my all.  I loved it. Smart racing, eh. Save that for another race.

2 comments:

  1. Best recap ever! I was hanging on every word, felt like I was a go pro camera attached to your hat or something able to see and experience everything you were feeling. Awesome job going berserk in this race. Congratulations!

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    1. Ha, thanks Charlyn! Appreciate you stopping by! So glad I was able to finish about where I wanted despite the initial blow-up. ;)

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