The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Thirty 5Ks: Done. And Farewell.

with 3 comments

This is how it ended:  It’s 9:35 A.M. last Saturday, and I’m sitting in the shade at some sidewalk cafe in Highwood, IL.  I’m hoping my heart’s frantic tempo will decrease, and no matter how soon it does it won’t be soon enough.  My t shirt is plastered to my chest.  My wristbands are practically dripping sweat.  I drank close to a gallon of water yesterday, and right now it doesn’t feel like it was enough.

Dave walks over, and he looks about as bad as I do.  He’s been at half of these races since last August, and we’ve come to know each other.  Dave’s friend, also named Dave, is sitting in the shade where I am, and there’s another guy.  Four guys, all well over 45, all considering the mortal implications of what we just did and what decisions we’ve made that have led up to this point in life.

“It’s humid like a motherfucker,” I say.  The others nod.

Dave says, “That’s wasn’t good.”  Dave, who routinely finishes in the top ten overall, or at least the top two in his age division.  If he struggled, what word do I use to describe my experience?  He adds, “Once the sun came out, forget it.  And the course felt too long.”

The guy I don’t know speaks up.  “Yeah.  My app measured it at 3.21 miles.  They had a timer at the first mile, but that was actually 1.3 miles.”

This is not how I envisioned the end of my quest to complete thirty 5K races, though I can’t say I envisioned anything specifically.  I really only thought about it ending because it had been 11 months, 2 weeks, and 2 days, and it was time to put it behind me.  It could have been over almost a month ago except for an ear infection that kept me out of a Valentine’s Day 5K.  Had I run that one, I wouldn’t be languishing in a pool of sweat and regret on a sidewalk in Highwood, IL.

Nonetheless, there I was.  My heart finally slowed, and I leaned back in my chair.  I wondered what my time was, but then didn’t care.  I smiled.  It was over.  I can stop arranging weekends around races.  I can stop keeping track of races on the dry-erase board in my office and counting down to zero.  I can stop writing about running.  I can’t say that I can stop worrying about completing my thirty because I’ve known I could do it since mid May when I hit the single digits of races remaining.  Now I can chill for a few weeks, maybe run a 5K here or there, and wait for fall when I truly love to run and when I get my best results.

The quest was not for naught.  No quest is, really.  There is wisdom to gain along the way, both worldly and personal.  How else to explain the timelessness of The Odyssey?  I thought a helluva lot about why I’m still running, and thought even more about how fortunate I am that I can still run.  I’m winking at you, Yoga, though don’t get a big head.    In the least, the last year has been a lesson in keeping on with life in a certain way, and gearing life to where I could keep on in that way.  I guess I was inspired by “Tangled Up in Blue,” which I always considered to be about keeping on with life despite the bumps and detours and unexpected breakdowns, and despite how clownish Dylan looks singing it in that video.

Thirty 5Ks meant that for an entire month of the year, I exercised vigorously.  I typically relax and go on “austerity,” as I call it, the day before a race, so for another entire month of the year I drank a lot of water and very little booze, ate no fried foods and very little other foods that are orgies of fat and calories, and got a lot of sleep.  It also meant that I ate a lot of Raisin Bran to keep myself “empty” before a race.  Thank you, Raisin Bran (both Post and Kellogg’s).

There have also been a lot of unusual courses that presented themselves only because I was running, and I appreciated the novelty of a lot of them:

  • Great Lakes Naval Station
  • Ft. Sheridan Army Base
  • Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago (the wrong way both ways)
  • Indiana School for the Deaf
  • seven different stretches of Lake Michigan lakefront
  • St. Mary’s Seminary (twice)

Most of those locations outside of the context of a 5K race would result in the introduction to a pair of handcuffs, or in the least permanent removal from the grounds.  I guess there were a few other bright spots along the way, like equaling my best adult time (24:40), and winning a pair of medals.

So what’s next?  Dunno.  Don’t care just yet.  A new age division is only a few years away, and I’ll consider myself fortunate if I can still run then.  In the immediate future, it means I won’t be writing about running, which is no doubt a relief to anybody still tuning in.

I’d donate them, but I wouldn’t want anybody to smell like that.

As for now, it’s time to bid farewell to a few pieces of running gear.  On the left above, a sweet tec shirt that I’ve worn for probably fifty races the last five years.  It’s super lightweight, and I’m told that because it’s so bright that I’m easy to see in a pack of runners.  The downside is that it smells permanently of running funk.  Even after it’s freshly laundered, the stench lurks just below the fresh detergent smell, like the fresh smell is doing all it can to keep the funk at bay.  Once I put in on, forget about it.  It takes about ten minutes before it smells like a bum’s nutsack, and that’s actually nice compared to what it smells like at the end of a race.  The other shirt has gotten almost as much wear, and is close to fading out completely.  It has been a go-to for cold-weather running and racing, and I’m actually afraid I won’t be able to find anything that has been as serviceable as it has been.  But it’s time to move on.  I’ve prided myself for a long time on being a bum runner, mostly wearing shorts for ten or twelve years and old t shirts so I can run on the cheap (I used the same pair of tights for seventeen years…), but enough is enough with these rags.

So I did a bunch of running.  I didn’t get much slower.  I wonder how long that will last.  Might as well find out, huh?

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Written by seeker70

July 27, 2017 at 10:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Good job, Burd! You know I’m a non-runner — I only run if I’m being chased so if you see me running, you’d better start running, too — and we’re the same age so I’m extra impressed, but then again, you’re pretty awesome overall.

    Lauri Keagle

    July 28, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    • Thanks, Lauri. Seems a long time ago when I was running laps on the track at Rich East, but it was only thirty years. A mutual friend of ours once told me that running is just as dangerous and maybe even more dangerous than the substances he was abusing because I was risking heart attack and vicious dogs. I’m still running. I would wonder if he’s still using his substances, but I suddenly remembered I don’t care!

      seeker70

      July 28, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      • Amen! Oh wait, that’s his line! 😉

        Lauri Keagle

        July 28, 2017 at 2:52 pm


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