I started the weekend by entering myself in the 5K road race. This is the third 5K I've run and I wanted to challenge myself this time. My goal was to run a better time than my last race of 26 minutes 36 seconds. To help me along I programmed a specific race song list on my Ipod. I chose six songs for their 'pump up' qualities and made sure their playing times added up to 24 minutes. My plan was to finish the race before the last song ended. I chose Bon Jovi's song It's My Life to push me through to the end.
Conditions for running were perfect. It was cool without any wind. And just as I was strolling to the starting line, Lady Di surprised me by being there to cheer me on. She had gotten the kids to where they were going this morning early so she had time to see me off.Here I am at the starting line. I'm the one wearing an all black shirt with the determined look of a winner on my face. Or I might just be struggling to adjust the volume on my Ipod.
As the starting gun fired, I started my playlist and Welcome to the Jungle by Guns and Roses shot me out of the gate. My strategy was to run a faster pace for the first mile or as long as my strength held out. After one mile I was feeling a little winded but still pretty good. Then all of the real runners started to pass me. So I chose one of them to shadow and try to keep up with. I kept close to the sixty year old I had chosen until we had to run up the hill. Luckily, this stretch of road was long and straight. So when I reached the top of the hill I could still see the grampa I was following. He was about five blocks ahead of me by now, but if I could still see him, I was keeping up with him. It's too bad that binoculars are too bulky to run with.
So around the mile #2 marker there was a water station. I grabbed a paper cup of water on my way by. I must not be very good at drinking water during a race. I saw many runners grab a cup, get their drink, crush the cup and drop it without changing their pace or stride. I grabbed my cup and had to hold it with two hands before almost dropping it. Then I proceeded to pour half the water up my nose while running diagonally across the road. I ended up sticking my tongue in the water and lapping some up like a dog before dropping the cup half full on the road. In the mean time, I couldn't breathe very well from my nose due to the free nasal rinse so I had to pull a handkerchief from my pocket to clear the area. Since my hands were wet from my drink attempt the hanky pulled out funny and I dropped it on the street as well. I had to stop, turn around and go back to retrieve it. All in all, I don't think the water was worth it on this occasion. When I had finally regained my composure, Olympic Grampa was nowhere to be seen.
So I started in on mile #3 and the last song on my race playlist started. "What! So soon! How am I going to run a 4 minute 36 second mile?", I inwardly yelled. I looked at the timer on my watch and it only said 18 minutes had elapsed. After some mental math I concluded that Itunes doesn't time their songs very accurately. So I decided to run a couple more minutes before kicking it in for the home stretch.
As I hit the last half mile, my knee started to twinge a bit. I know from experience that once this starts, it continues to worsen until I can't run anymore. I then need to rest it by taking a break from running for a few weeks to a couple of months. So I had a decision to make. Do I choose the competitive route and keep pushing through to the finish line in an attempt to improve my time from last year? Or do I slow down and save the knee. Guaranteeing a slower time, but finishing the race and allowing me to continue training for the next race. On the one hand, I would like to have a good time and a break from running wouldn't be the worst thing to happen. But on the other hand, who am I trying to impress with a fast time? I run to improve my health and hopefully add years to my life and quality to those years.
So I asked my conscience, what should I do?
Two miniature gremlins then 'poofed' out of nowhere, one on each of my shoulders, just like in the Tom and Jerry cartoons. In the cartoon, one conscience gremlin was usually an angel and one a devil. Both of mine were angels. On the one shoulder was a tiny Sweet Pea offering her opinion in my ear, "Go for it Dad! I want you to win this race for me! Run as fast as you can and then we can go for ice cream!"
So I turned to the opposite shoulder where Number One Son was asking, "Dad, can I play the Wii?"
My mind was made up. It was now or never. I ain't gonna live forever. I just wanna live while I'm alive. IT'S MY LIFE!
Then I lengthened my stride, pumped my arms and zeroed in on the runner in front of me. I also accidentally broke a little wind at this point for an extra boost. Sorry, dude right behind me.
And just as I shifted into high gear, Holiday by Green Day started playing in my ears. That song was supposed to be in the middle of my race list. Guess who forgot to turn off the shuffle button.
Oh well, that realization gave me new life. I can possibly finish before this song is done. So I ran like the cops were after me. I ran as if I had found a half price buffet. I ran as I would to a Dr Pepper drinking contest and crossed the finish line at 23 minutes and 39 seconds.Don't worry, the camera always adds 6 seconds.
Then I crawled to the watermelon table.
Now I get to look forward the next race. Two local communities have 5K's in August and Lady Di and I are going to team up and try to get Sweet Pea and Number One Son to join us. I may have to dangle a Wii remote from the back of my shirt to keep N1S motivated though.
For those who are interested, here was my official race playlist. If anyone has suggestions to improve it, let me know and I will learn how to properly operate my Ipod.
1. Welcome to the Jungle-Guns and Roses
4.Rock You Like a Hurricane-Scorpions
6.It's My Life-Bon Jovi