Thanks for all the supportive comments and positive feedback on my 5 mile race this past weekend. Although I've been consciously downplaying the significance of my performance to myself after the fact as "just another race", subconsciously I knew this result was a big confidence booster for me because it providing some objective evidence that I was finally over my illness that thwarted my spring marathon attempt, and finally over the persistent right knee/ankle pain that had been bothered me all through May. Even though I didn't push myself to the max and was never in real danger of overextending myself, I proved to me that I was almost back to running well and racing fast again. (BTW, did you know that my last semi-decent race prior to this weekend was over two months ago, in the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in Washington DC? Every race since then has involved an injury or an illness of some kind - and in one, not even my own! It has been a long time coming!) Prior to this race, I'd been forcing myself to hold back both physically and mentally. Even though I was running consistently, I was not ready to challenge myself for fear of pain and injury. The setbacks I experienced a month or so ago really took a huge toll on me mentally. At least now I can say, for the most part, I'm mostly recovered. Almost.
Come to think of it, it's so weird how the mind works. One week I'm thinking that I'm in no condition to race. The next week comes and I'm challenging myself to race a sub-5:50 mile in front of the local high school track team. This latest show of provoked arrogance was unintended but definitely fueled by disrespect. It occurred as I was "borrowing" part of the neighborhood high school track for 800m intervals. The track team, lead by their fearless captain who must have been a high school senior, was running mile drills around the track at the outer lanes while I was running my 800s on the inner lanes. Since I was the "outsider" using the track, I purposefully slowed my pace down whenever I could hear the pack of five or six boys coming from the back towards me. Since they weren't running faster than 5:45-6:00 miles, it was up to me to slow down to allow them to pass. As they passed, I could feel their eyes penetrating my skin, and hear their remarks directed at me. At one point, I remember a kid whispering to his teammate within earshot of me "Why is this old guy running on our track? He looks kinda slow." I was shocked by their attitude but waited until after they were done with their sets to make my statement. As the entire team laid on the grass next to the track for recovery, I asked one of the guys who had a handy stopwatch, the same one who gave me eyes and called me old and slow, to time me for a 1600m run. He looked puzzled but obliged. I then went to work. I laced up my shoes and proceeded to bust out a 1600 m run at 5:30 pace in front of the entire high school track team. After I was done, I asked for my time, thanked him for timing me, and walked away from the stunned crowd without saying a word. Needless to say, there were no whispers, no jokes, no sounds...just eyes staring at my back because I just ran a mile faster than most of them can and more importantly, faster than any of them ever imagined I can!
Not bad for an old guy who ain't yet too old to steal the show once in a while. Right?