Of the top five finishers in the 5K this morning, one had run 8 miles before the race. Another had run 13 miles.
I was doing well to get out of bed and drive to the race just a half mile from my house.
The winners’ times were fast, these young men in their man-buns and the sleek bodies of youth, who are not even bothering with water as they stroll easily along the sidewalk, not even out of breath, because they finished 6 minutes before I did and have already cooled down, as I labor to the finish line, feeling like a runner, but knowing that I’m just another old guy, old being anyone over 25, because anyone over 25 is just a pretender and not even an afterthought to those who run in the fast lane of youth.
So I won my age group. First place, the little trophy cup says. So what. Who cares.
I care a little. Because I made myself get out of bed. I made myself run those 4 miles on Wednesday when I didn’t really feel like it. And the speed work on Monday, which is ridiculous and serves no purpose other than to satisfy my ego. And the 7 1/2 miles last Sunday that I don’t have to do. But there’s something gratifying about being out on the road in the early morning by yourself, and wanting to quit after a couple of miles while you still feel good, but enjoying the morning so much that you just keep pushing until your legs become weak and a little wobbly but you have to push on because you just can’t quit because you have to push on. Because you have to push on.
And because of all of that, there’s a little cup that says First Place that means nothing to anybody but me.