Yesterday, Harper Lee and I, along with nine of our good
running buddies, drove down to Mooresville for the Mount Mourne 5K.  December is not my usual “peak” race
month, but in light of my sporadic performances since the birth of Isaac, I
figured that logic did not really apply. 
Besides, I’ve been putting in some really good workouts, and without
strep throat, I thought I might be able to pull off a decent performance for
the first time in close to four years.


Basically, I’ve been eating typical holiday junk for close
to two weeks, and I haven’t even dared to step on a scale for fear of setting
off a deep depression.  With all
the cooking, cleaning, wrapping and final grading of exams and projects, my
runs have been a little more haphazard than I would have liked, and my sleep
schedule has been downright scary; however, I have managed to throw in some
decent long runs, a couple of monstrous tempo runs and a 600 workout that was
as good for my head as my muscles, heart and lungs.  Based on workouts, I thought I might be ready to rip one,
but I wasn’t exactly playing all my cards with little sleep, less strides and
drills, and a steady diet of sugar and more sugar and a side order of fat. 


Two days before the race, my watch crapped out, and in the
whirlwind of Christmas, I forgot to buy a new one before Saturday morning.  Trying to avoid that “naked” feeling, I
wore it anyway, and decided to depend solely on the individuals calling splits
at the mile markers even though I know those are rarely right.  It turns out that there was no one
calling splits at any of the mile markers, and I, in fact, didn’t even know
where the mile markers were.  I was
flying blind in a sense. 
Ordinarily, I would not recommend this.  I tend to rely heavily on my watch, but without it, I had to
contend with the nagging voice in my head saying, “You just feel like you’re
running fast.  What if you’re
running 7:30’s and you just don’t know it.  You’d better pick it up.”  For the first time in a long time, I had to worry only about
racing.  Times were irrelevant
because I didn’t know what they were. 
All I could see were the people in front of me, and I spent my time working
on them rather than expending my mental energy on doing math in my head, which,
by the way, is probably more exhausting for me than a fast 5K. 


It turned out to be a really good day for all of us.  Harper Lee ran the Fun Run and placed
third overall. She was the first girl, and two “older” boys, at least 8 or 9
years old, beat her.  She was
pleased with herself and won a door prize to boot.  Alison and Deanne placed second and third respectively.  They were beaten by an eleven year old
from South Charlotte.  Yes,
eleven.  I wonder if that child has
any idea who she beat yesterday. 
Injured or not, Alison is an impressive foe, and Deanne… well, Deanne
will cut your heart out, and I mean that in the best possible way.  I hope that kid realizes the talent she
has been blessed with.  I placed
fifth overall, and ran a “post-Isaac” PR and probably my third or fourth
fastest time ever.  Cory won the
men’s race, and Jason placed 4th with a 17:23.  Jonathan placed in his age group and
Carlos ran close to a PR.  Overall,
I’d say it was worth the price of admission, and I think it’s a race we’ll definitely
run again.


So, as Rex would say, “Is there a lesson here?”  Probably.  Maybe I should eat high calorie and nutritionally void food
on a regular basis or maybe I should throw my watch away.   I guess I could walk away from
this with that message, but really I think the message is the same as it’s
always been:  consistency pays off,
even if it takes a few years; if you put it in the bank, it’s there when you
need to pull it out; if you focus and don’t fall asleep, you can pull in a lot
of people; and there’s just nothing better than getting “back on the bus” with
good friends and knowing you did the very best you could.