A week ago yesterday I ran a special edition of the free noontime Tidal Basin 3K Race. The RRCA had a Run To Work Day for its 50th Anniversary, as I understand it, and the DC representative set up a Friday running of this monthly 3K race, normally sponsored by my running club, the DC Road Runners.
It was a sparse turnout. At noon, the sponsor was begging people jogging by on noontime runs to participate in the race. A workmate of mine ran by, halfway through a six-mile monument run, and I waved him over. He was game, although he had never run a 3K race before. I told him not to start too fast and then to kick it up as he felt comfortable.
Secretly I was pleased. I knew I was faster than this workmate. I have been remiss so far because I have only been successful in persuading workmates to run this race who are faster than me.
My doppelganger Peter was there and I gave him the disinformation that I felt really bad that day. He laughed me off knowingly and then told me he felt bad.
Off we went at noon, eleven of us. The runners froze into place a quarter mile down the road when I ran by Peter, as customary (he often runs by me again the last quarter mile) and Gary ran by me a short while later, as usual. After that, no one changed places anywhere in the race, it just gradually widened out.
I ran well. The guy in front of me steadily stretched out his lead over me, a process repeated all up and down the food chain ahead of me and behind me. I finished sixth in 12:52 (6:55). Woo hoo! I broke 13 minutes for only the second time this year (12:59 in April was the other time). My mile mark was 6:49, and my 2K mark was 8:37, exactly the same as two days earlier. But somehow on Friday I ran the last 1K eight seconds faster than on Wednesday. Go figure.
My workmate ran an excellent 14:04 (7:33) and he came in DFL among the men. Is this a tough race or what?
Afterwards there was trouble. A Parks Policewoman in a plain wrapper spotted us, a small knot of emaciated men and women in short clothes gathered around a plain folding table holding a water jug and cups set on the grass by street's edge at the intersection of Ohio Drive and FDR Drive, 3/4 mile from the Jefferson Memorial and 1/4 mile from the FDR Memorial. She parked alongside us, got out of her sneaker and strutted over to ask for our "permit" to "gather" on Park Service land. The race sponsor said he thought that as long as the "gathering" was under 25 persons, no permit was needed.
"That's just for demonstrations," she said, "not gatherings. And no permit has ever been issued for here. Well?"
I didn't help matters when I blurted out, "Free Tibet!"
She lectured us and told us to read the "regulations" (sure, we'll get right on it) because "it's all in there." Grandly saying she'd "let it go this time," she contemptuously surveyed our pathetic, sweating skinny little group standing there in abbreviated clothes acting as respectful as possible. Then she parked her fat ass in her unit and left. Bah!