The Competition

Today’s run was around 11 a.m. on a cool but sunny Saturday (around 12ºC). I opted to go with just the usual short and t-shirt and will confess my hands felt like a pair of ice mitts by the time I got to the park. I resisted the urge to overdress and rightly so — I was sweating lightly within a few minutes.

However, in my rush out the door I had forgotten to make a stop in the loo and by the time I was at China Creek, my bladder was pointedly reminding me of this fact. A port-a-potty had been placed at the northwest corner of the park as part of a pilot project (a sign explained that it might be removed at the end of the month, based on public reaction).

Now, portable toilets are one of those things that are gross. No one ever says, “Wow, that sure was a nice port-a-potty!” You hold your nose, go in and do your thing as quickly as possible and without touching anything. I braced myself and opened the door. To my surprise, there was no odor at all, despite evidence that the toilet had indeed been used. I speculate the chemicals used to completely remove all trace of foul smell must be the kind powerful enough to bore straight through to the molten core of the planet and the toilet itself must therefore be made from the fused material collected from said core. There is no other explanation.

As usual, the start of the run was good but I was feeling a little logey by the 15 minute mark. It was also then that a shoelace came untied and I had to pause the workout to tie it, lest I stop running and do more falling on my face. There was a soccer practice/game underway and at one point an errant soccer ball made its way onto the path ahead of me. Today I would need to be vigilant not for delinquent girls but rogue sporting equipment. I continued on and right near the 5-minute mark a fellow jogger passed me. As you know, this is the official sign that It Is On. He widened the gap between us a little but not by much. I turned it up a notch, closing the gap and then passing him.

At the 2-minute mark The Competition passed me again. At this point in the run I am on my final lap and usually pick up the pace for the finish. The Competition was increasing his position ahead of me and it flickered through my mind that I may have to cede him the victory. But then I looked to the fountain by the path and realized that I was within reach of it — something I had never done before on the final lap. The Competition’s pace then flagged slightly, perhaps due to being comfortable with the lead or maybe due to tiredness. It didn’t matter. I turned on the afterburners. I intended to pass him and reach the fountain before the nice lady in my iPod announced the 35 minutes was up.

I felt good at this point — my stamina was easily keeping pace, the second wind having kicked in a few minutes earlier. My calves were holding up. The space between us began to shrink. I entered the final bend at the southwest corner of the trail, the fountain mere meters ahead on the right. I caught up and then strode ahead of him, reaching the fountain as I did so. A moment later, as if on cue, the iPod lady announced 35 minutes up, run complete. I came to a halt, allowing The Competition to pass me. He probably thought I was dicking around with him at this point. Just a coincidence, though — this time!

I went to get a victory drink from the fountain and found it wasn’t working. My one defeat.

I achieved a raft of personal bests on this run and Lance “I did not take steroids” Armstrong came on the offer his congrats. In all, I had my:

  • fastest km — 4.54/km (previous: 4:58)
  • fastest average km — 5.19/km (previous: 5:23)
  • greatest overall distance — 6.6 km (previous: 6.53)

Overall I have to say I’m pretty pleased with how it went. I feel pretty good tonight, too — none of my body parts are screaming at me.

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