Monday, June 28, 2010

Living in the 'Passed'

I used to be a runner. Well, I still run but I used to be competitive. I ran in high school and college and even after graduating I was able to maintain some competitive conditioning by running occasionally prior to some road races.

As the years have gone by, my time to train and my physical ability to run consistently have lessened. (Sitting in an office doing nothing takes a significant amount of energy out of your day).  I found it easy to point to my age as the reason for slowing down (I'm really not that old, but let's say I can now be considered in a the Master's class). But now I don't even think that is reasonable.

I've noticed in several race results that guys in their 40s and 50s are running faster or just as fast as those in their 20s. Even women are doing quite well in those categories.

And talking about women, it used to be that no woman would place ahead of me in a race. NOW, a good handful (a big handful) are zipping by me. And there's nothing wrong with that. These are people who train a lot more than me and whose bodies have not endured more than 30 years of pavement pounding. They're fresher and more passionate.

What I do have a hard time with is the 10-year-old who is pushed onto the starting line for the first time because the parents think it would be cute for little Johnny to participate in a 5K race. That's fine, let him get a little experience -- except when the tiny a-hole is keeping up with me during a race.

And not in a consistent pacing fashion. The kid sprints out the first mile, begins to slow, walks and for some unexplainable reason, he starts sprinting ahead with a new burst of energy every time I come near, only to start walking further down the path. I don't know the kid. He doesn't know me. But he continues the activity almost mocking me until we near the end of the race, the part where I can kick right past him. But that's when all these adults urge him on to the finish line, cheering for him to catch Goliath. "You can beat that guy, Johnny! He's dying!"

And that's when the mini dynamo finds a new source of energy and surges ahead to pass me at the line.

Bravo for him. I hope he has unrepairable mental scars and physical ailments from that draining feat of energy.

I can let a few incidents like that slip under the radar. What I find a bit harder is watching Johnny's mother and his little brother zoom past me - pure hell.