I ran my first race yesterday since Thanksgiving, the W&OD Trail 5K which passes by my back door twice. Ten minutes before the start time I headed out on foot to pick up my bib and line up for the start.
On hand as the honorary Race Marshal was a D-Day veteran, an Army Ranger who scaled the Pointe du Hoc heights at Omaha Beach on that fateful day. When I thanked him for his service in making a better world for us all he said modestly, "I was just a teenager then." Let's see, what movie should we go see tonight boys, or maybe we'll just take out some German cannon instead on a towering prominence defended by enfilading machine gun fire.
This is the third year in a row I've run this race, cutting down my time each year. Two years ago it was my return to racing after a year and a half layoff due to injury and I struggled to run the 5K in under thirty minutes in 29:12. Last year was a slog too as I wilted in the last mile and finished in 27:54.
I got the thirty-minute bugaboo off my back last July 4th when I ran an afternoon 5K race in the RFK parking lots in 107 degree heat in 32 minutes and change, with several walk breaks. It was a free race but I finally crashed through thee thirty-minute barrier the wrong way on that brutal day and I was able to stop worrying about being over thirty minutes in a 5K race. Such are the little milestones we pass in life as the years advance.
Yesterday I went out steadily and felt good the entire race. I only looked at my watch once, when the finish line hove into view far down the trail and I wondered if I could break 27 minutes as my watch said 26:00. But the finish was too far off for that so I relaxed until the last 200 yards when I kicked it up a little so I wouldn't get passed by an incoming runner. After the midway point in the race nobody passd me and I picked off about a dozen runners ahead of me.
My time was 27:23 (8:48), half a minute faster than a year ago. I was second in my age group, but then again I beat nobody in my age group either. The only other male in my age group was my friend Bob Platt, also a past president of the DC Road Runners Club, who beat me by almost two minutes. Afterwards we chatted about old times, two past DCRRC presidents re-living old glories as we crash into our sixties. I used to be able to break 22 minutes in a 5K, and also to regularly beat Bob, but we were practically teenagers then, so to speak.
We also chatted about our misgivings concerning the recent conduct of the current club president. This guy headed the club's IT department when I was president and he led a clique of young board members who obstructed me and were unbelievably insolent to me personally at board meetings but more importantly, he controlled the club's PayPal account and he and his cronies actively withheld crucial information from me about club matters. I asked two vice presidents to look into these irregularities but when they declined to get involved, I resigned rather than ignore my fiduciary duty to the club.
After a few minutes of basking in the pleasant after-glow of a race well run and the camaraderie of seeing old friends again, I jogged to my house. Six short minutes later I was home again. It was a great weekend of running.