Monday, August 31, 2009

9 Lousy Seconds

That was how far I finished behind Candis on Saturday evening. Candis finished in 27:41, shaving 2 full minutes off her 5K PR. What the hell? Sandbagger! I finished in 24:50 which is not a PR but that’s quickly becoming tired meme on this blog so I won’t pursue it any further. Congrats to Candis for destroying her old PR, I wasn’t planning on her being able to go sub-28, but it turns out that her desire to beat me is a pretty strong motivator. I actually think she’s been employing the rope-a-dope against me. Remember that Triathlon she just finished, the one where she shaved 10 minutes off her previous time? She ran a 30+ minute 5K in that. Also, at the Granby Gut Buster she conveniently ran with our 6 year old so I wouldn’t know how fast she was. I can’t remember the last time she actually tried in a 5K.

I gave it my all during the final downhill stretch of the race and couldn’t catch her. I didn’t even see her until she made the final turn towards the finish line. At that point she was no more than a block away from finishing and I was still a couple hundred yards behind her. I was still gaining on her but it became apparent pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to catch her. As we crossed the line we were funneled into overly congested chutes so that they could tear the tags off our bibs (it was not chip timed) and somehow Candis managed to get into the most congested chute. I was through the chutes at least a minute ahead of Candis and was hoping worried that they were going to mess up the official times and show that I had beaten her. They did mess up the official times, adding between 15-20 seconds to our times, but still had her 3 seconds ahead of me.

The after-party is somewhat of a meat market as they try to cater to the singles crowd with fashion shows and dating games and the like. They’re still foisting Dale’s Pale Ale (which is not good) on an unsuspecting crowd, but they also gave us Chipotle Burritos and Mad Greens salads, so I suppose the beer faux pas can be forgiven. We were fortunate enough to meet up with Simon (from RunColo) & his wife Kelly after the race and they were gracious enough to not tell us their times and pretend that ours were impressive. That fa├žade quickly faded though when Kelly had to go up on stage to collect her 3rd place prize. Yes, 3rd place overall. Congrats to Kelly and Simon who are both obscenely fast.

Congrats again to Candis. She is getting faster by leaps and bounds and I’m proud of her. 90 percent proud and 10 percent annoyed. Well... maybe 70 percent proud and 30 percent annoyed. Okay, okay, 25 percent proud, 75 percent annoyed. Fine, if this happens again we will NOT be on speaking terms.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Truth

[by Candis]

And now the real truth. Someone in this household is yet to have a PR this year (ahem - Ian).

While I normally play the part of a loving supportive wife, this role has been suspended for the day in lieu of a demonstration on superior racing strategies and the truth of who is really getting faster in this household.

Half-Fast
Exhibit A: The Bolder Boulder 10K- almost 2 minutes slower. “Aw honey just a bad race.”
Exhibit B: Granby Gutbuster 5K- 30 seconds slower. “Aw honey it was at altitude.”
Exhibit C: Georgetown Half-Marathon- 7 minutes slower. “Aw honey downhill sucks.”
Exhibit D: no swimming or biking

Mrs. Half-Fast
Exhibit A: Bolder Boulder 10K- shaved over 6 minutes
Exhibit B: Tri Babes Sprint Triathlon - shaved almost 10 minutes

Ian once told me when a friend of ours went out without training and ran a 48 minute 10K, that “some people are just fast”

Apparently some people are just fast honey (ahem - me).

(Before you defend the sweet talking Mr. Half-Fast- You should not grant your wife posting access, then trash talk and get in the shower.)

Today is the Skirt Chaser 5K

In about 3 hours Candis and I will be running the Skirt Chaser 5K in Denver which means that our house has been filled with more trash talk than a garbage symposium. For those of you not familiar with the Skirt Chaser race series the ‘skirts’ get a 3 minute head start over the ‘skirt chasers’ which is going to make things interesting. At the Bolder Boulder 10K I beat Candis by 5 minutes, which would seem to translate to a 2½ minute advantage in a 5K, meaning that she would beat me. Of course I’m still confident that I’ll prevail but only time will tell.

I wanted to get this post up today because there have been numerous attempts at sabotage this afternoon and I am pretty sure that Candis might resort to poisoning me. So if I don’t show up with a gloating post on Monday then you’ll all know that it’s because Candis poisoned me, call the police.

Thus far today I’ve brought Candis a piece of cheesecake, added slow romantic songs into her running playlist, attempted to drain the battery in her Garmin and engaged in some psychological warfare by telling her that she’s really looking old. I’ve also advised her that her race strategy should be to start out nice and slow and then finish slower, but I don’t think she was buying it.

For her part, Candis has made me lunch which turned out to be a little spicy and has left my favorite pair of running underwear at the bottom of the dirty laundry hamper. The joke is on her though because I’m still going to wear them.

In the vein of equal time for opposing views I offered that she could add anything to this post or even write a post of her own. Her response was “Just tell them I’m going to kick your a$$!” Yes dear, that’s a pretty good joke, I’ll be sure to include it.

The only thing left to do is figure out what the loser has to do for the winner. Naturally I’ve got some ideas, but feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Unnatural

Some of you are not going to like what I have to say today. I know this because my reader has recently been speckled with more and more posts about Vibram Five Fingers and the benefits of barefoot running. My quarrel is not so much against barefoot running or those funny little hobbit shoes but more against the argument used to promote it which goes something like this: ‘Barefoot running is more natural and therefore better.’ I’m not buying it.

We’re supposed to believe that primitive man ran barefoot and so it’s the best way to do it, but you know what? There are a lot of things that came naturally to primitive man that we no longer do and I, for one, am happy about that. For example, do you know how primitive man trimmed his toenails? He didn’t! The toenails just wore themselves down from all that running around barefoot or broke off when they got too long or when he stubbed his fat little toes on rocks. In fact, I postulate that primitive man only ran barefoot as a means of toenail control and that had he owned a pair of nail clippers he’d have been hunting down behemoths in Nike Waffle shoes long before the 70s.

Just because the human body does something naturally doesn’t make it better or more efficient. As evidence I offer this heartily abridged list of things that are fake (not natural) and are vastly improved because of it: Meat Paste, Demi Moore’s face, Pamela Anderson’s chest, Cool Whip (interesting that this would be the next thing that came to mind after Pam Anderson, no?), Cheez Whiz, *breaks into song* ‘these are a few of my favorite things.’

If you played any kind of sports growing up then you have experienced a coach showing you a better way to throw, hit, shoot, etc. (followed by sobbing into your pillow at home if you’re like me) because your body doesn’t always naturally do things the most efficient way. As my son has been learning to play baseball his natural inclination was to throw with his feet firmly planted perpendicular to his line of throw. He had to be coached to step with the opposite foot when he throws, but now that he has learned this behavior he is able to throw with much more efficiency and effectiveness.

Even if natural was better, I’m not convinced that running barefoot is more natural than running in shoes. The human body is incredibly adaptive. When your parents first put shoes on your feet and you began walking and running, you didn’t make a conscious effort to change your stride, your body ‘naturally’ switched up your foot-strike pattern. Your body was smart enough to recognize the innovation of the shoes and adapt to them. Couldn’t you argue then that the way you run with shoes on your feet is also pretty natural? You could, because I just did. It doesn’t really matter though since I’ve already established that natural isn’t necessarily better.

To sum up: 1) Natural doesn’t necessarily equal better. 2) Running barefoot isn’t natural. That might seem a little contradictory but this is the kind of circular logic that I like to employ because it’s very hard to argue with. Go ahead and try arguing with me *sticks fingers in ears* “la la la la la la I can’t hear you!”

For actual scientific analysis of such matters I point you back to this article by Science of Sport. They agree with me... at least I think they do. I didn’t fully understand everything they said due to their use of big sciency words. We get it guys, you’re smart.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rundom Thoughts

At the risk of starting another blog feud I’m going to go ahead and post some more Rundom Thoughts. If I don’t post them then the terrorists (Nitmos) will have won, and also, I’m pretty sure that they would just keep building up until the pressure caused my head to explode. As I’ve said before you can think of these Rundom Thoughts posts as me relieving myself onto the blog.
  • Shouldn’t Team In Training be abbreviated as TIT? I really think that this could only help bring more attention to their cause.
  • Unavoidable running law: If you arrive at a crosswalk tired and in need of a break all traffic will stop to let you keep going. If you are in the zone and feeling strong no one stops to let you cross.
  • Vibram Five Fingers are like the Crocs of running shoes. Everyone says they’re really comfortable but they look ridiculous. “Hey look at me, I’m Frodo Baggins!”
  • Do they also make gloves called Vibram Five Toes? The Hell?
  • And another thing, what’s with the discrimination against people with 6 toes, Vibram?
  • Three words: Bacon Flavored Gels. How about it CLIF SHOT people?
  • In order to recruit more people to become runners I think we need to update the lingo a little. Talking about the ‘runner’s high’ probably worked well to recruit people in the 70s and 80s but I think it’s time we all started referring to it as the ‘runner’s orgasm.’ That’s bound to entice more people to the sport. Sex sells, baby!
  • I received an e-mail last week (while my unsolicited e-mail rant was still at the top of the page) from Michelle asking for publicity for the Run For Life Salt Lake Half Marathon on September 5th. The subject was “At great risk of ridicule or mocking...” Ballsy move Michelle, but I was in a good mood, so go check it out.
  • Lesson to be learned: Make sure your solicitous e-mails show up in my inbox when I’m in a good mood. Good luck with that.
  • Yesterday I followed a car with the license plate MRTHNR. The license plate holder said ‘I do 26.2’ and there was a bumper sticker of a local running club on the car plus an additional 26.2 sticker. Naturally the car was a Toyota 4Runner. Even I thought it was a little over the top. I tried to get close enough to snap a cell phone picture but I couldn’t catch up... I think that might be a sign or something.
  • Candis finished the Tri Babes sprint Triathlon on Sunday in 1:27:38, a full 10 minutes faster than last year! I’m trying to talk her into a race report.
  • An awesome job to be sure, but a 30 minute 5k to end it? That’s never going to be fast enough to beat me at the Skirt Chaser this Saturday, even with the 3 minute head start they give the skirts.
  • I cannot reiterate this enough: They’re NOT Cargo Shorts!
  • I hate the T9 predictive text software on my phone. Candis and I had a major misunderstanding recently when I texted her to tell her that I was going on a ‘5 milf run through the neighborhood’ after work. 5 MILE run, a 5 MILE run you stupid phone!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The New Podcast is Up

Which is to say that it is available for download and has been posted at our podcast site. I should probably have a permanent link to the podcast site somewhere on the right side of this blog and get into the whole spirit of promoting it. I’ll eventually get around to that and maybe I’ll even take the time to figure out the embeddable player. The thing that I don’t get about the embeddable player is how it... THEY’RE NOT CARGO SHORTS!!!!!! I’m sorry for that outburst, I just can’t go on pretending that things are OK between us after your mockery of my race wardrobe yesterday. You all owe me an apology and a hug. I don’t wear cargo shorts when I run. I make fun of people who wear cargo shorts when they run (see here). These are the same shorts I’m wearing in this picture, which no one had a problem with at the time... in fact... that’s the same shirt and hat too, even though that was taken almost 2 years ago... hmmm... could it be that it’s time to update my wardrobe? No, the hat stays but maybe I should update the lucky blue race shirt (which has clearly lost its mojo) and the shorts (but not because they’re cargo shorts just because they’re old).

Where was I? Oh yes, the podcast. One of the searches that led to Half-Fast this past week was ‘half fast podcast’ but let me be clear that it’s not the Half-Fast podcast. (I know this because there is no Half-Fast podcast.) It’s merely the podcast that I, the author of Half-Fast, participate in. Sure, I may be the most blindingly attractive of the participants (it used to be Amy, but she went and got knocked up and fat and stuff) but it’s not my podcast and the other members of the team deserve equal recognition, actually probably more recognition. So once again thank you to Amy, Nitmos, and Raz who did their best to make me sound funny and whom I feel weird about referring to by their screen names since we all call each other by our given names when we do the ‘cast.

This week on the Banned on the Run we interview John from Hella Sound about the running music that he records. John has been kind enough to supply us with some original music for the podcast intro and outro (is that a word) which means we don’t have to steal stuff or resort to music that is so crappy that no one wants to copyright it. Thanks John! Anyway, if you don’t want to listen to the podcast I strongly encourage you to go check out John’s site at www.hellasound.com. John records original music for runners, synced to your individual pace to help you through your run, and if you’re like me, you can use all help you can get.

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Allure of Race Pics

I was poking around the Georgetown Half website trying to find race pictures and then I began to wonder why I was doing that. Why would I even want to look at my race pictures from what is potentially one of the worst races of my life? What would make me think that the race pictures from a race I crapped out on would be worth looking for? Even my pretty face can’t save some things. I’ve stated previously my firm belief that no one looks good in their race pictures and yet I still go looking for them after each and every race. It’s like driving by an accident and thinking ‘boy, I hope no one was hurt’ as you slow down and try to see if you can see any blood on the wreckage. You can’t not look.

On the front page of the website I noticed that it said in big bold letters “Mark your calendar next year’s race will be held on August 14,” and so I did. I grabbed my calendar, turned to August 14th, 2010 and I wrote down “Find something else to do this weekend.” I hate that stupid race. Some people might be overcome by competitive spirit and want to go back for a third attempt in order to finally conquer the course, but not me. I live by the words that W.C. Fields once said: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then give up. There’s no sense being a damn fool about it.”

This race is my nemesis. The kryptonite to my Superman, the David to my Goliath, the internet to my newspaper business, the Pat Garrett to my Billy the Kid, the Google to my Yellow Pages, the Gigli to J-Lo’s acting career, the overly long analogy to my otherwise quality blog post. In other words it is my curse and the cause of my defeat. Of course, this could be said of several of my recent races but it I think it applies more to this one than any other. I’m not planning on attempting it again, or being so melodramatic about it in the future.

Anyway, that’s the only race picture that I’m posting. If you want to see the rest of the train wreck of pictures you’re going to have to put your stalking skills to work, which shouldn’t be too hard given the information in this post.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Off Track: How Not to Solicit

Yesterday I received an e-mail from someone inquiring about advertising here on Half-Fast, more specifically they were looking for a little link love. I get these pretty frequently and I tend to be quite stingy with the permanent links unless there’s money on the table, but if you use the correct approach (read: effusive flattery) then it’s pretty easy to get a plug in the Weekend Splits, you know, when I’m actually posting them. Anyway, there was nothing particularly out of the ordinary about this e-mail, nothing malicious to speak of, but the recurrence of these types of e-mails has been increasing lately. This was just the unfortunate one that broke the camel’s back and now I’m going to take out my frustrations with all those solicitous e-mails on this one. Let’s dig in, shall we?

“Hi I’m Brenda [last name redacted] from [URL also redacted]. We offer one of the largest selections of flowers, hampers and wines and champagne gifts online, giving our customers useful tips and information to help them find the perfect flowers and gifts to send for any occasion. .”

At this point I’m thinking ‘why are you telling me this, why didn’t my spam filter catch this and why are there two periods at the end of that sentence?’

“I am looking for partners that compliment our site and half-fast.org seems a good fit.”

Really? Half-Fast seems like a good fit to you? Because runners are the largest purchasers of flowers? I’m pretty sure that the only thing my readers care of wine and hampers is that too much wine before a race hampers performance, so this seems like a strange request to me, but let’s see what you’ve got in mind.

“We can either:- 1) Exchange links with you”

Right, because I’d get tons of great traffic from a British Florist. (The URL ended in .co.uk)

“- OR - 2) Our team have been working hard creating content on our own site and we wondered if you would be interested in some free of charge content written just for half-fast.org.”

Not based on the way that sentence was written. Seriously, isn’t that the clunkiest sounding sentence you’ve read today? The next one is pretty good too. It’s even missing a word.

“Our editors cover a wide range of subjects and can quickly agree a subject with you and write specifically for you - you will have full editorial control and it definitely won’t be a sales pitch for us. All we would ask is that you allow us to include one simple text link back to [URL redacted] towards the end of the content which will hopefully be found by the search engines in the longer term - which is how we would benefit.”

You know how else you would benefit? Proofreading. Also, by sending this e-mail to blogs that cover flower related subjects. That’s two freebies off the top of my head.

“Please let me know your thoughts.”

You want my thoughts? First of all, that was the best sentence you’ve written thus far. Secondly, I’m thinking that I’d rather find an IRS audit notice and a jury duty summons in my mailbox than allow you or any of your team anywhere near my blog with a post of your own. Believe it or not I’m pretty particular about what gets written here, in fact, I’ve only ever allowed one other person to write posts at Half-Fast and she had to sleep with me before I gave her permission to post. (BTW, she is on the record as saying that it was over quickly and she barely felt a thing so it was not as steep a price as it sounds.) I’d offer the same type of arrangement, but I’m pretty sure the last one was an ‘exclusive rights’ kind of a thing.

As if all that isn’t enough I received the exact same e-mail from her about two minutes later, further proving her incompetence. Brenda, I’m going to pass on your kind offer, because if I wanted a shoddily-written, double-posted blog entry I’d just do it myself. I’m getting quite proficient at shoddy writing. And before anyone else points this out in the comments, I’m aware that I probably don’t always use correct grammar (or even know what the correct grammar is), but then, I’m not offering to write a blog post for you, am I? You can be sure that if I was offering my services as a writer I would take the time to make sure that everything was correct or blackmail hire someone else to do it for me. That’s how I roll.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Party’s Over

You’ll be pleased to know that the pity party here at Half-Fast has come to a close. After two days of wallowing in my failure and moping around the house I finally went and ran again last night. We dragged our children (drug? - or is that a different parenting technique) to the local middle school track and forced them to sit on the hot metal bleachers and yell encouraging things as Candis and I did some 800s because we like to make it hurt so good.

In the past I’ve written some disparaging things about intervals but last night it was just what the doctor ordered, assuming the doctor is a sadistic prick who wants to hurt you. If runners were emo, intervals would be how we cut ourselves.

Surprisingly, it felt good to be out there struggling for breath. It felt good to push my legs to the point of exhaustion. It felt good to hurt myself and I couldn’t help but wonder if this is the same feeling or high that emo people get when they carve stuff into their arms. It was like I was connecting to them on their level, but without the skinny jeans.

Reaching your limits in training is what helps you to push them back, and that’s just what I needed last night. That and a good psychological evaluation but one out of two ain’t bad, right?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ooof!

Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon Race Report
Let’s play a little game where you guess why this race report is getting posted so late. Is it:

a) Because I suck.
b) Because it is deftly written prose with many clever turns of phrase and witty observations and it takes time to craft such beauty in writing.
c) Because I posted a new Personal Worst.
d) Because I don’t want to talk about it.
e) Because I was keeping you in suspense to build up my page views.
f) Because the first race report I wrote was so whiny and unbearably depressing to read that I just outright deleted it and had to start over.
g) All of the above.

If you took the easy way out and answered g) All of the above, then you’re wrong because b) clearly isn’t true. The correct answer is actually secret answer h) which is ‘all of the above except for b).’

Yes, it’s true. I put the ‘race’ in disgrace and managed to post a new Personal Worst! My time was 2:04:33 (9:31 pace). I won’t waste your time with excuses and explanations about why I failed spectacularly because I don’t really have any. The weather was just about perfect, the course was great, and I didn’t do anything stupid the night before. The only thing I can think of is that I had this Detour Runner bar that I was saving for my pre-race breakfast, but Candis ate it a couple of days prior to the race. I don’t even think she was running at the time, she just did it to spite me so I ended up eating plain old toast instead. Hence, the new PW.

There are a number of frustrating things about this new low, the first of which is that I’m not even sure I can put my finger on what went wrong. Somewhere around mile 8 or 9 my legs started getting really stiff and I just couldn’t keep them going at my desired pace. I even tried envisioning Kara Goucher, who is undefeated at the half marathon distance, but all that did was make other things stiff and further hinder my running. Perhaps I should have envisioned her running?

The second thing that is frustrating about this recent crapping of the bed is that it clearly signals that I have managed to get slower this year. (Perhaps you would expect nothing less from a site named Half-Fast.) This year I have run a 10K, a 5K and now a half marathon at slower pace than I ran them last year. One slow result is a bad day, two are an uncanny coincidence but three bad races in a year are a stinging belly flop into the realization that I’m slower. Join me won’t you? The water’s warm. I’m taking failure to all new levels and I can’t even argue that these results were due to tough courses because the 10K and the half that I ran this year were on the same courses where I PR’d last year. It’s like I have no excuse (except for that breakfast bar thing, I’m holding on to that one), I’m just slower. Fortunately I continue to get handsomer and handsomer with age so I’ve still got that going for me.

I’ll wrap up this race report here because I can feel it starting to head the same way the first attempt went (which is straight to the bottom of the nearest bottle) and I really am far too lazy to write it up a third time.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Just a PR, ma’am

That’s all I’m after at the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon tomorrow, just a PR. There was a time in my running when attaining a PR was just a given at every race. That no longer seems to be the case and I’m learning to be OK with that (read: taking it out on my family). However having missed a PR at the Gut Buster 5K last weekend and at the Bolder Boulder 10K this year (the first time I haven’t PR’d that particular race) I’m in desperate need of a PR. I’m in need of some feel-goodery (that should totally be a word).

My current PR for the half marathon distance is 1:56:45, which was set at this same race last year incidentally, and I’ll be happy if I post a time that’s even one second faster because it will still represent a chest-thumping PR. It will help me to answer the nagging voices in my head that keep telling me I’m getting slower. Furthermore it will help me to answer all of you people in the comments who find something in every post to say “see, this is why you’re getting slower,” you know who you are.

The Runner’s World SmartCoach program that I’ve been following says that I should be able to complete the race at an 8:32 pace in 1:52:00. I’m planning on starting out a little slower than that and building up to it as the race progresses. I want to run this race a little more conservatively than I normally would for a couple of reasons: 1) Last year I started out too fast and the combination of running downhill and over-zealous speed led to cramping up in the final miles. 2) I don’t need 1:52, I need a PR. Not that I wouldn’t love to have 1:52 or even better, but this isn’t the race that I’m going to go after it. I have another half marathon coming up in October and maybe I’ll set some outrageous goal for that race and see if I can start fast and hold on.

Good luck to everyone else who is racing this weekend.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Deer Whisperer

As you already know if you read my last post (and shame on you if you didn’t) I spent last weekend in Grand Lake, CO. Despite my humiliation and failure at the Granby Gut Buster 5K I was still calling myself a runner and was looking forward to a Sunday morning long run which would take place on some of the nearby mountain trails. One of the great things about running on the trails is that it makes me feel at one with nature. I prance around the woods like a young fawn, I drink from the streams and I blend into the scenery as though I am one of the woodland creatures.

I was roughly 6 miles into my long run when I rounded a bend and came across the following scene:


It’s tough to make them all out but there were 4 deer on the trail ahead, one of them was a young fawn (like me!). Evidently they had not heard or smelled me approaching, probably because I was at one with nature and also because I had just doused myself in urine (unintentionally) when I stopped for a pee break a mile back. Now, unlike some cowardly running bloggers, who are apparently afraid of deer, I did not turn and run away like a frightened little girl. Remember that when I am running, I am at one with nature and so I continued to approach the deer. All but one of them immediately fled but the remaining deer (who will likely end up as some hunter’s dinner) stuck around to check me out. I approached her slowly, speaking softly like the Deer Whisperer that I am. I whipped out my camera phone to take some pictures and the deer was so at ease with me that we dropped into the roles of photographer and model without hesitation.

“Yes! That’s it baby! Work it! Work it! Yes! Now show me coy.”


“Excellent, now turn around and give me a shot of that sexy haunch. Ooooh, you’re giving me chills, you sexy doe.”


After I had taken a few pictures it was time to get back to running and my new friend agreed to pace me for a little while.


We eventually parted ways, but not before she told me a funny story about the rube she once saw running on the trails that was terrified of deer. We laughed long and hard about that one before we said our goodbyes. Can you imagine that? Someone being afraid of a deer? That’s funny stuff.
Bonus Deep Thought by Jack Handey
“I saw on this nature show how the male elk douses himself with urine to smell sweeter to the opposite sex. What a coincidence!”

Monday, August 3, 2009

It’s Just a Hill... Get Over It!

Granby Gut Buster 5K Race Report
This past weekend we joined Candis’ parents at their cabin in Grand Lake, CO for a little R and R, which stood for Running and Racing. As luck would have it Saturday was the 21st Annual Granby Gut Buster 5K in the nearby town of Granby and even though I have the Georgetown half marathon this coming Saturday I was itching to race and too impatient to wait 7 more days. So on Saturday morning Candis, David (age 6) and I all headed out to test our mettle on the race course while Graham (age 4) decided to stay at the cabin and test his Grandparent’s mettle.

As we drove to the race I daydreamed that I was crossing the finish line with a new PR, breaking the tape and being showered with roses from adoring fans. I was rudely jarred out of my daydream by a roadside sign that read ‘Welcome to Granby, Elev. 7982.’ My confidence in a PR slipped a little. It slipped a little more when we registered and were handed our race shirts that had a picture of a runner on a mountain with the slogan: ‘It’s Just a Hill... Get Over It!’ I was disheartened to notice that there were a lot of steep hills around us. However, there appeared to be fewer than 100 participants and I figured that might lead to the elusive age group award that I’ve been chasing for some time now.

In the first mile of the race we did indeed run up a steep hill, which was followed by more steep uphill sections. Seemingly around every turn we were faced with another uphill climb and I was feeling winded from the lack of oxygen and from starting out way too fast. The good news was that this course was a loop, so I knew that the downhills were coming.

As we started the downhill section of the course I was no longer thinking about a PR, instead I was keeping my eye on the people around me and attempting to stay ahead of the guys who looked to be in their 30s. I was OK being passed by anyone that wasn’t competing in my age group until somewhere in mile 2 I was passed by an 11 year old girl wearing Kinesio tape on her calves. Oh crap! This would not do. I hung on a few steps behind her, determined not to let her get away from me.

We hit the final mile and I was still hanging on. As we made our way around a hairpin turn we were able to see the runners trailing us and I noticed a guy not far behind me that looked to be in his 30s. He was clearly trying to steal my age group award and I would have none of it. I pushed the pace and tried to ignore my distressed breathing. My push away from the age group award thief put me closer to Kinesio tape girl and I used my momentum to get past her, but I failed to pass with authority and could hear her settle in a few yards behind me.

As we came down the penultimate stretch before turning to the finish we ran past Kinesio tape girl’s father who I later learned is a High School track coach. He was screaming at her like an overbearing parent to start her finishing kick and to run like this was the final 200 meters, despite the fact that we still had over a quarter mile to go. I heard her footfalls quicken and she began closing the gap. (I can actually feel you all rooting for her as I type this.) I waited until she was right on my shoulder before starting my own kick and I separated from her again, but a quick glance at my Garmin revealed we had a quarter mile to go. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold this pace for that long and hoped against hope that she would fade before I did. She did not. As I started to slow down she bounded past me, apparently unaffected by fatigue. I thought briefly about summoning one more surge, one more kick, but I decided against it because I was fast approaching the puke threshold and the only thing worse than a 33 year old man losing to an 11 year old girl would be for him to lose and then puke his guts out at the finish line. Plus, I didn’t want to be the guy that let his competitive spirit get out of hand and outkicked the sweet little blond girl, crushing her spirit in defeat. At the same time I didn’t want to be the guy that got beat by an 11 year old girl, but that’s the guy I ended up being.

I crossed the line with a time of 24:53 (8:01 pace), missing my PR by 25 seconds. I stood at the finish with no PR and having just been beaten by an 11 year old girl. The only thing that was going to save this race was if I finished in the top 3 in my age group. Seriously, in a small mountain town with roughly 88 racers how many males could there possibly be who were in their 30s and faster than me? I won’t keep you in suspense. The answer to that question is 3, there were 3 men faster than me in their 30s who showed up that morning which left me off the podium.

I wallowed in the post race cookies which were pretty good (although they tasted vaguely like failure and disappointment) and waited for my son to finish his first ever 5K. When he crossed the finish line with Candis in 42:30 I was so proud of him that all of my shortcomings were completely erased. His splits were 15:48, 13:27, 12:19.

A cotton T-shirt? Rookie!