Monday, September 21, 2009

Race Report-Bluemont 10k

I rolled out of bed on Saturday morning and instantly knew I hadn’t had a sufficient amount of sleep. We pulled into Virginia late, around midnight, but it still took me a good hour to wind down from the 6 hour drive from New York. It seemed like my head just hit the pillow when the rooster started crowing at the crack of dawn. Mark and Sue live on a farm in the town of Bluemont Virginia, with an arthritic dog, a gaggle of hens, and a rooster who gets up earlier than everyone else. I stumbled downstairs to grab a cup of coffee, pulling on my running shoes and searching around for the car keys. I had to make my way over to Great Country Farm to register for the 10k race that started at eight, and it was approaching 7:15. I didn’t know how many people were running and I didn’t want to get shut out.

I needn’t have worried. When I got to the starting line and registration area there were no more than 20 runners milling around, jogging in place or nervously eyeing the bathroom. When I filled out my race form I was given number 47. The most recent race I’d run prior to the Bluemont 10k was the Long Island ½ marathon which had a field of 12,000 runners. By the time the gun went off in Bluemont, the number of participants had swelled to around 120, which according to the race director, was a new record. While I was waiting for the race to start, I took stock of the competition, mentally dividing the field into people who would end the race behind me and those I could tell I had no prayer of beating. The competition seemed to be an exceptionally fit and trim group of runners, and I was starting to get a little nervous about where I would finish, especially because the field was so small. Oh well, I thought, I’m just out here to have some fun and get in a work out.

The race director counted down from 10 to one and then we were off. The course wound around a dirt and gravel path inside the farm before spilling out onto the back-country roads which rolled through the Virginia countryside. The air was crisp and clear, the day sunny. Fall was in the air, although the leaves had yet to change colors. I started out chugging at a 9 minute mile until I could pass a few handfuls of people who were blocking the narrow path through the hay fields. By the end of the first mile I had passed about 15 people (and at least as many farm animals) and was in turn passed by a few runners who had also gotten stuck in the back. Most of the people who blew by me were the sort you’d expect would be able to leave a 41 year old borderline Clydesdale eating dust-high-school cross country runners, skinny girls, etc. I was ok with that. I believe in the decline of the body with advancing age and acknowledge my limitations. Nevertheless, there was one fellow who got ahead of me whose speed seemed to offend the natural order in some fundamental way. He was over six feet tall and pushing 220 pounds with tree-trunk legs and a bit of a beer belly. He was breathing heavily and had a stride that resembled an out of control helicopter. When he passed me, my first thought was that he had opened up the throttle a little too early and that within a mile he’d be either walking, or jogging so slow that he’d wind up finishing long after I’d started on my second banana. It took me four and a half miles to catch him. He maintained a killer pace and then raced me neck and neck over the last ½ mile until I finally left him in the weeds.

My time was 48:08, not bad for a first outing at that distance. In the last half mile I passed a 16 year old girl and a US Army Ranger. I’m not sure which was more satisfying. It was a great morning and a fun race. Now its back to some distance.


  1. Did you trip the disgustingly slow 16-yr old as you "flew" past her at your amazingly slow 7:45 pace? Geez. You are an embarassment to running when you plod along like that. Give up this sport and save the rest of us the pain of watching you fail, please.

  2. Hey, that's pretty funny! You should take that act on the road, where I assume you aren't running or anything.