Slower than most nineteen year olds

But faster than a few…

According to the age-grade tables, at 50 I’m about 11% slower than I was at 19.

The pleasing thing is that I still am ahead of some.

Once a year I get a chance to see what this means. Once a year Westmont college invites SBAA to field teams for their cross-country met. Last year our men’s team failed to gel and we ended up with only 4 runners, but our woman’s team won their event. This year we had enough runners, but some of our best were unable to run (Fred Mellon twisted his ankle during the warmup and sat the race out with ice for company).

As I arrive I meet Drea pulling in. Together we go looking for a map.

And someone to explain it.

The course is twisty with lots of loops and subloops — no two the same but all alike enough to confuse. On a foggy morning. And the men run a different course from the women. And it’s different from last year because of the wildfire and reconstruction. We got there an hour and a half early to warmup on the course and learn its twists.

Then we went to get our bibs. Oh, your women picked up the SBAA packet. OK, where are the women? Out doing their warmup on a different set of twisty loops. Ah, but the packet is here amid the back packs. But it only contains the women’s bibs.

Now, it seems unlikely that the women would have removed the men’s bibs but not their own.

We go back to the organizer’s table to request a set of bibs. Time is ticking toward the start. One of our number realizes that he didn’t bring the right singlet (we’re supposed to be in uniform) and he brought an SB Run/Race singlet, not an SBAA one. Luckily, I brought a spare. So we trot over to my bike. When we return we have bibs! and it’s 2 minutes to race time, so we trot over to the start.

Well, we don’t quite start on time.

I line up at the back. The gun goes off, and we head out across the soccer fields. Most people go out way too fast. I find it kind of amusing. I am surprised when Kevin Young passes me, I’d have thought he would have known better. Once we’re off the soccer field and going up the hill I pass him back. And then I just keep passing people.

I realize that no one passed me after that first quarter mile.

A little after mile 1 people are cheering a guy whom I am overtaking. One observer yells out “Quick Henry!” and my mind turns back to “Quick Henry, the fleet” (ok, it should be “flit”, but fleet worked better here).

Now we start on the hills. Next two miles have steep climbs. It’s a good way to pass people. Many can’t climb hills fast, others will think they can and then have nothing left at the top.

Each time we head up the hill (which we do twice) the fog is lifting over the mountains and I get better and better views of the clouds rolling back and exposing the mountainside. But I’m running too hard to carry a camera today.

Each time I pass someone I worry a little that I’ll be out of sight of the next clump, but no, I there’s always someone I can follow (and overtake), until right at the end. But I’m not worried about the last two minutes of the course.

The final loop goes past the start/finish before making an excursion below the soccer fields, around them, across them and back to the finish. I pass the clock and see that I’m just under 30 minutes. Jamie yells to me that I’ve got 2 minutes to go. Nice. Down, around, up (I’m tired of up now), around, across and

finished.

31:43. Twenty seconds faster than last year, and on a much harder course.

They give me a card. I’m in 69th place. Out of 89. Still most of those 20 are college athletes, kind of gratifying to know that I can still pass a few…

Also amusing to note that I’m closer in time to the first place finisher than I am to the 89th (by a lot).

Then the women start
Women Start

After their first loop Drea is so far ahead of everyone else it is unbelievable. And then the “everyone else” turns out to be Michelle, who herself has a considerable lead on those behind her. And they increase their leads as the race goes on…
Drea Finishes Alone

Nichol points out that “69” isn’t such a bad number to have. I must admit I hadn’t thought of that. One track mind, I don’t think enough about sex…

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