I ran in a local 5 miler yesterday. This was the 43rd running of the race making it the granddaddy of ’em all in the county. You can do the math if you’re interested in knowing exactly when it all began.
It was during the early days of the running boom what ever that means. Me? I’ve been running since I was in the 4th grade. We don’t need to do that math.
I used to kill this race. Now it kills me. But to the title.
First, the course…Start/Finish is on North Queen Street. Go right on West Lemon for one block, go right on North Duke all the way to Chesapeake Street, go right, then left to enter the County park. or as the locals refer to it, County Park. Once you become a local you don’t need to modify landmarks or places with the word the. Everyone knows what you mean.
Run through County Park and go left back onto Duke Street. Instead of proceeding all the way to Lemon you chop off a block and go left on to West Walnut to Queen and then you see the Start/Finish line a couple of blocks ahead.
A side note here, our town dates to pre-revolutionary times so streets have royalty sounding names like Duke, King, Prince and Queen further subdivided by whether they run east/west/ north or south.
You have your North Queen, South Queen, East King and West King among many others. We also in this interesting mix have a Lime Street and a Lemon Street. You can actually stand on the corner of Lemon and Lime.
Further the street signs have been abbreviated thusly like N. Queen, W. King and of course S. Lime which reads S Lime Street. That’s all I got in the roadway department.
Back to the 5 miler. I’ve reached the back marker phase of my running career. I know it, you know it and so what anymore.
I started either dead last or next to dead last. Pro tip – If you wait for the starting corral to fill up the porta john lines disappear since all your fellow runners rush to the middle of the street for a good place on the starting grid. This ain’t F-1 or NASCAR. It don’t matter.
The horn goes off and I walk the 100 or so yards to the start line before I start my watch. The front markers are sprinting their behinds off and I’m running a good clip for me anyway up Queen to Lemon and on to Duke. Here comes the title reference.
As I’m approaching what I know is the one mile marker and clock I look to right where it oughta be and it’s not there! Did the organizers not have a budget for course clocks?
I file that away and continue up Duke where off to my left I see a guy walking and carrying what seems to the clock that was supposed to be at mile one. I guess he figured since he had to pull double clock duty he yanked the clock off the tripod and trundled up to where the 4 mile mark is coming back.
Keen eyed readers will note that above I mentioned the course cuts one block off the return so one mile and four miles are not in the exact same place. Hence, the one mile clock serves both one and four miles.
As I’m running and I see the clock being hand carried upside down I make out 10:44 as the seconds keep ticking away. Suddenly I have this ” Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds” moment.
I am running faster than the clock is physically moving. Soon I’m even with it and just as quickly I’m passed it leaving time in my wake. Picture that Dali painting of the melting clock. Saucony meets surrealism. I am not running faster than the speed of sound or light. I am outrunning time itself.
I continue up Duke, go right on Chesapeake, go left into the winding roadway of the park cutting all the tangents I can find and realizing that tangent running is probably not taught in school anymore but that’s one class I passed.
I run back up Duke and eventually I find the one/four mile clock right where it’s supposed to be. I’m also toast at this point but I’m passing some people and some people are passing me.
I have found in a marathon when you are bringing up the rear you make a lot of friends who are just as slow as you are. Everyone talks, jokes, laughs and encourages each other.
Sadly, now everyone except me and maybe two other people are not wearing ear buds. Everyone else is and they can’t hear anything. Conversation is not longer a part of group runs. One guy had a speaker in his backpack and was his own little running/walking jukebox. Maybe he couldn’t find his buds. I forget what song he was playing.
I go left on Walnut, left on Queen, it’s my version of Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston.
I cross the finish line and grab a water. There is a fenced in beer garden set up and normally your entry would be guaranteed by virtue of your: 1- wearing running gear, 2- sweating like a racehorse, 3- panting like a cheetah and 4 – your race bib.
But if you don’t have your Real ID or something similar you are turned away. Fine. Just fine.
I grab a bag of chips and leave.
Time is on my side anyway.