November 13, 2013
First let me say, I have never been a gazelle but also I wouldn’t say I was a sloth either. When I was in good shape I would say I was akin to a Australian shepherd, not going to win any speed records, but capable of a decent energetic pace. Lately as I am working myself back into shape I would say if you looked up Eric Rutin in the dictionary you would most likely see a picture of a basset hound. More specifically probably a 14 year old basset hound.
It was with this acceptance of my new canine classification that I lined up yesterday for one of my favorite races, the annual ARR Thanksgiving Day Classic. This is a great race because it is a 10 mile race that after completing I could eat as much as I wanted with no regards. Well yesterday I ran in the other race, the 5K, a race in my previous running snobbery days always considered good for grandmas and toddlers. In fact I didn’t just run in this race yesterday, I also lined up about halfway back in the corral with the rest of the causal runners. This was an entirely new perspective for me. To my left was an elderly gentleman that looked as if he needed to get to the mall for his shift as Santa. However this Santa’s long white hair was pulled back in pigtails and was doused in petrulli oil. Behind me was a dad and his 10 year-old kid that was telling everyone he hoped to run the race in 45 hours. Once was kinda cute but eleven or so times was just annoying. Hummm, am I the Grinch? Then to my right was an Indian family. No I am not being politically incorrect and not using Native American, I am actually talking about a family from the India that Columbus was basically looking for on his misadventure. The mom and two kids looked ready to go in the CoolMax running gear, but the dad was in jeans and a polo shirt. And lastly in front of me was a woman that was running her first race since having her shin replaced with a metal rod. I have fallen so far out of shape that I was competing against middle age men in jeans and Santa Claus.
When the race started I had to walk for a minute before getting to the actual starting line to start running, a term a I use rather loosely in this case. In the past in self delusion I would position myself as far forward as possible in a starting corral and would take off flying. Now I had people that were walking from the get go that I had to negotiate around and in the spirit of the holidays, they were usually an extended family walking side by side making my task as difficult as possible. I felt like I was playing human Frogger.
The course is a simple out and back, nothing fancy. The mind was willing but the legs were not. I tried switching into that racing gear but I seemed to have left that somewhere in 2011.
Even once I was able to run consistently the course was narrow and packed with people. I was in desperate need to launch a snot rocket but it was so crowded that it was impossible without a serious breach of social graces. So off I ran unable to breath out of my nose. I was being passed by people that I told myself were running the Galloway method as they would sprint by me then walk a while with their hands atop their heads trying to regain their breath. Then they would zip by me again only to stop again a 100 yards later. I passed a lady that was prepared for the grizzling 3.1 miles with her fuel belt loaded with two water bottles and three gels. By the time I clocked a mile I was regretting eating a hearty bowl of oatmeal earlier as visions of my Yoshi run started creeping into my mind.
As I was approaching the turnaround point I discovered that my old basset hound assessment was probably accurate as I saw a woman with her antler-clad Pomeranian already on her way back. I was clearly not faster than dog with 3 inch legs. However I was faster than Santa as I was finally able to shake him at the turn around. On my way back I was passed by a guy pushing a baby jogger, one of the ultimate humiliations just behind losing to the costumed folks (I wont’t even bring up the indignation of losing to a costumed Pomeranian). The kid in the jogger looked at me and said “bye bye” as they passed me, just in case the embarrassment wasn’t quite enough already. I was being trash talked to by a frickin 3 year-old. But my ego wasn’t damaged enough yet because the next one to pass me was the kid with his 45 hour 5K pace. Had Mr. Blue Jeans passed me I was prepared to officially retire right then and there.
I finally finished unceremoniously at 26.55, neither tired nor spent, no matter how hard I tried, I never was able to shift it to that higher gear. The time certainly wasn’t my worse. Ironically the first race I ever ran was a Turkey Trot in Marina Del Rey back in 1992. I ran it after I graduated from college and put on 35 pounds. I was trying to get back into shape, of course my other exercise was a rowing machine with a pitcher of vodka tonics for hydration.. I think initial race took around 45 minutes for me to finish and I didn’t lose a pound. Fortunately that was pre-Internet so there is no record of this event that I am aware exists. I wasn’t disappointed with my race yesterday, rather decided I needed some new realistic short term running goals: my next race I will try and crack top five in the under 10 division and not lose to any dogs classified as toys or terriers.
But I got my ass out of bed and at least ran so how disappointed can I really be? This allowed me to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner guilt free, though I did gain 4 pounds yesterday. No problem, I will just throw on a pair of jeans and go for a run.