Not getting oldNovember 18, 2012
Yesterday I turned 39.5.
I don’t celebrate half-birthdays; usually I don’t even notice them. But yesterday I was exactly six months away from masters competition, which offers significant prestige and reward to those who excel.
I decided to mark the 6-months-out point with a race — my first race since my Achilles injury in 2010 and surgery in 2011.
While many of the fittest Seattle runners were in Spokane for the regional cross country championships, I headed to Magnuson Park for the first-ever Mustache Dache 5K.
I wasn’t sure how competitive the Dache would be. There were hundreds and hundreds of people with numbers on, but the singlet-to-costume ratio was quite low.
As the race began, I settled into about 7th place, with the top six within 10-15 yards. The pace — 5:15/mile? — felt brisk, given my current fitness, but manageable.
A bit less than one mile in, the tempo seemed to slacken. I surged mildly to the front of the lead group. That felt fine, so I extended the mild surge and distanced myself from the others without too much trouble. And that was that. I won by 17 seconds.
Regardless of the exact circumstances, it’s always exhilarating to take command of a race. To assert one’s fitness and experience and, in doing so, dictate the outcome. To announce, “Thank you for playing, but you are now playing for 2nd.”
However childish or arrogant this pleasure may be, it hasn’t gotten old in three decades of racing. I don’t think it ever will.