Short Version: 36-ish minutes (not chip timed)
When does a simple 5K symbolize the end of your youth? When it’s the End of an Age 5K in the West Clermont, Ohio school district, held to commemorate the upcoming destruction of the two local high schools, Glen Este and Amelia.
No, I’m sorry. That’s the negative view. Frequently I’m told to look at this from a more positive perspective. It’s the joining together of the two schools into one brand new, updated high school.
Okay. I’m a positive person. I am positive that it feels like the destruction of my youth. Even though I visit the physical building of Glen Este High School maybe once every five years, knowing that I can’t… because it will become condos… is very unsettling.
Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” came out in 1984, my freshman year of high school. Even then I knew that I was going to be the guy in the song.
Now I think I’m going down to the well tonight
And I’m going to drink till I get my fill.
And I hope when I get old I don’t sit around thinking about it
But I probably will.
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
A little of the glory, yeah.Well time slips away
And leaves you with nothing, mister,but boring stories of glory days.
Songwriters: Bruce Springsteen
Glory Days lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing
Oh. It’s a dagger in the heart and a song on my playlist. I genuinely am happy for the students of the future West Clermont High School. I want them to have a great education and the new school looks amazing. But my heart. It breaks.
The race itself was fun! It’s good to know that some things never change. Cincinnati still equals humid!
As soon as I arrived at the park I saw my buddy from high school, Bob (Class of ’87). Bob and his wife, Melinda, were high school sweethearts and are two of the nicest, most genuine people you could ever meet.
Bob and I strolled over to the packet pick-up tent and got our bibs and t-shirts. Ladies, if you’ve ever run a race, I’m going to need you to sit down for this next part…
The volunteer told me that the women’s shirts had arrived looking too small for their sizes, so they were trying to give everyone the next size up. Then she handed me a shirt that fit.
??? Right? !!!
Rather than everyone receive an unwearable shirt, a good percentage could be given the next size up. I have been the volunteer who has handed every woman a toddler sized shirt and ain’t no one happy with that!
Not only was I given a shirt that fit, but it was a woman’s cut and it is sooo soft!! I could rant for hours about “unisex” race shirts. In fact, I intend to.
Bob and I enjoyed some catching up and then went our separate ways to prepare for the race. I decided to do a little jogging to bring my heart rate up and warm up my muscles.
I can remember my first season of racing and seeing runners warm up by running. That baffled me. I had precisely 3.1 miles of running energy in me and if I used any up before the race, I was certain that I would collapse into a heap around mile 2.7.
Now there I was… jogging around the trail like the experienced marathoner that I am. Haha, joke’s on me!
It makes no difference in my performance!
Such is the life of a back-of-the-packer!
Bob heard a rumor that there were about 300 of us. When it was time to start we all huddled up together on a paved park trail and sort of made the best of it.
Honest to goodness, a lady looked over at my wrist and said, “Oh, you have one of the new rose gold Road IDs! I’ve been wanting to get one of those! My birthday is coming up.”.
I said, “My birthday is tomorrow and I just got this! I love it!!”. And then we had this entire conversation about Road IDs until we were rudely interrupted by the beginning of a race.
(I intend to say a LOT more about Road ID, even though I’ve already maxed out my referrals!)
The race began and yet again I experienced something that I will never understand. If you know that you are going to walk the race, which is perfectly fine, why would you line up in front of 250 people who are going to run it? You drive 47 in the left hand lane, don’t you?
This first mile felt okay. I was running slowly but steadily and not wanting to die. I consider that a win. Mentally, I was offering it up for a friend who had to cancel her upcoming marathon because her husband (who was training for an Ironman) was hit by a car. What a crushing blow for both of them.
When I wanted to walk I would think of Sandra and Brian and push forward. Humidity (and wet grassy fields) are not my friends, so I was beginning to struggle. Praying for Sandra and Brian, I remembered this quote from somewhere…
It is a privilege to choose to suffer.
Amen. I was choosing this. They weren’t.
It started to get a little ugly here. Have I mentioned the humidity? I offered up this mile for my friend Melissa, who is temporarily unable to run due to hip issues. She is such a sweetheart and I feel so bad for her.
I wanted to be able to run continuously, but I could feel that my heart rate was way too high. My only consolation was that everyone I saw looked to be suffering, too. Let’s see… cold, dry air gives me asthma attacks and warm, humid air ratchets up my heart rate. AIR tries to kill me.
This is where I am at as a runner. Foot troubles. Hip troubles. AIR troubles. The actual AIR is against me. Just. Whatever.
Having not yet succumbed to the deadly air, I pushed forward. I offered up this mile for my friend Gretchen. She and her new husband have had a year that leaves me thinking, “I’ve read this somewhere… Oh, yeah! The Book of JOB!”.
By this point I was content not just to walk a great deal, but to stroll the entire way to the end, picking daisies along the way. I started questioning why I put myself through this misery?
But then I thought of Gretchen and many others who would love to be in my running shoes. I was lucky to be doing a 5K, choosing to suffer this way. There was fun to be had, but I needed to find it.
So I decided to take an unorthodox approach to the last half mile of the race. No more plodding along. I would sprint for 30 seconds and then walk for 30 seconds.
I probably looked like an idiot, but I made my way out of the same pod of people with whom I had spent the past mile. It’s the racing strategy of an 8 year old, but it’s effective!
Okay, now this was fun! The finish “line” (more of a region) was towards the end of a field. It was a nice, straight shot and I was running all alone at a moderate clip.
All of a sudden I could hear another racer behind me. I could hear that he was speeding up. So I started to speed up a little.
Then I could hear him really put the pedal to the metal and I could tell that he was trying to blow past me to the finish. Aw, heck, no!
So I started to sprint as if my life depended on it, although it was tough to laugh at the same time. As you can see, I won. Well, I did have a head start!
My buddy, Bob, took the bigger photo. He had time to finish, grab a snack, cool down, and then watch for me to finish because WOW, he is speedy fast considering that he doesn’t train hard for it.
To give you an idea of how casually he takes this whole running thing, he didn’t know his finishing time because he doesn’t have a GPS watch. He had to ask the kid who finished next to him what his time was! 22 minutes.
Bob is 48! A 48-year-old recreational runner ambles over to a 5K after training sporadically and busts out a 22 minute time! How awesome is that?! Imagine if he was well trained!
I love to see inherent talent. It’s such a thing of beauty. I love to see dogged determination, too. That’s what I’ve got. But an abundance of fast twitch muscle fibers set forth to do their thing? It’s so cool!
So we said our goodbyes and I spent the rest of the day with a splitting headache, whether from the humidity, dehydration, or migraines trying to break through, I don’t know.
It was a well-run race and a nice opportunity to take stock of life during and since high school.
The gal who noticed my Road ID had asked me, “Oh, were you a runner in high school?” and I just smiled. “No. Not at all. But I ran a marathon last year.”
The glory days aren’t over yet, y’all.