Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Good Thing I Wasn't in That Field!

For the first time in six years, I was in the area for the Richmond Marathon, a race that I have never done. If I didn't have the lingering heel pain, I think I might have signed up for the half marathon and done a run / walk combination, starting after the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure ended in late September. But looking at the results, I am glad I didn't! I think I would have been humiliated! It was a really fast field.

Let's look at the marathon first. My best time in a marathon was 5:57, walking most of it. That is a great walking pace, but would be far behind any runner. So that we are comparing apples with apples, let's assume that if I trained for and ran a marathon, I could at least do it at double my best half-marathon time of about 2:28 as I recall. Let's add 13 minutes for a half minute per mile slower pace, a bathroom break, and so on. That would give me hypothetical time of about 5:09. Where would that have put me in the Richmond Marathon?

Well, in my age group of 60-64, I would have finished 45th out of 66 people - not so good. If I lied about my age and went up to the 65-69 age cohort, I would have finished in the middle - 13th out of 26. By the way, my neighbor John is in that age cohort, and finished in 3:45:29 - and he was undergoing horrific treatment for prostate cancer less than a year ago! And he would have finished in the top third of men 20 years younger!

What if I lied about my gender? Well, in my age group, I would have beaten 9 women and finished behind 10. Keep in mind, I have never run a marathon in anywhere near that time, so it is hypothetical.

What if I had indeed run the half marathon? Well, it would have been worse. Not only would my best half marathon time - I've only run two - have put me dead last in my age group, I would have finished over 30 minutes behind the guy who actually did finish last among 60-64 year olds. The last guy to finish ahead of me would have gotten his medal, had a snack, stretched out, and probably read a book by the time I came dottering in! And I would have finished dead last in the 65-69 age group as well, 15 minutes behind the last place man. Holy crap! I would have finished in the bottom half of 70-74 year old men. I would have beaten all five of the 75 and older men, though. Small consolation!

I feel I will eventually get over my heel injury and want to run again. In fact, I want to run a marathon next year, my ten year anniversary of surviving cancer. But clearly I am going to have to step up my game if I don't wish to see my name in last place among like-aged men.

But on the other hand, as Teddy Roosevelt once said: "Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failures, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy or suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." So the true last place is the guy or gal who doesn't have the guts to lace up those running shoes and cross the starting line.

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