On Saturday, God willin' and the creek don't rise, I will be running in my first 5K in two years. I started slacking off on my running last year, pretty much all the way through the beginning of this school year. But when school started back up this year, I rededicated myself to running at least once a week, and I have done that, for the most part.
So I decided to turn this running into something that "counts" at least once this year. And since I have done the Race for Pace before, and it is only a few miles from my house, it seemed like a good race to do.
New for me this year is the age group I will be in: 40 to 44, which apparently qualifies me as a master. Huh?! What the what? Whatcha you talkin' 'bout Willis?!
To me, 40 is not old to be a runner. I see runners of all ages. Granted there are many more younger than older runners, but just looking at the results from last year's race, I noticed that 42 out of 135 males and 32 out of 100 females were 40 and older. In fact, my new age bracket had 12 females, compared to the next two highest groups of 16 females under 12 years and 13 females from 20 to 24 years. Over thirty percent does not seem to shabby.
But this brings me to the competitor in me, which is lurking deep inside. In my late 20s and early 30s, I ran quite a few 5ks and I placed in a number of them. In fact, when I ran in the Race for Pace in 2002, I ended up in first place in my age group. I am pretty sure that was the last 5k I had run until 2010 (ed. note: apparently I ran in the Steelers 5k in 2006), and it was certainly a good way to end my "first" running career. When I ran two 5ks in 2010, I had no aspirations to place, mostly because I was not as good as I once was, but also because so many more people run now; being in the top three was just not realistic.
But as I look at the results in the Race for Pace from last year, I see that I actually have a chance to place in my new age group. Third place last year was over 31 minutes. When I ran the race two years ago, I did it in 27 minutes. I know there is no way I can come close to that, thanks to my age and my unfortunate foot pain, but I can possibly do it in around 30 minutes (that is the goal!). Of course, I am basing this on the people who ran last year. If I look at the times of the people who ran two years ago, then I would probably end up in sixth or seventh place.
Master or not, I do mostly believe that age is a state of mind. Some days I feel as if I am still in my 20s and early 30s (and some of the little kids at school ask me if I am 21). On Monday, I had a great three-mile run, which I followed up with 18 laps in the pool, and in my mind I could have passed for 32. But other days, like today when I am tired and my stupid feet hurt, I feel as if I am 40. And it is not that I am not okay with my age. I will never lie about it, and the alternative of not getting older is quite unpleasant. But there is just something about feeling young(er).
At any rate, wish me luck and a time under 30 minutes. But if that does not happen, that is okay too. Or at least it should be.