White knuckles and draft dodgers

 A few things always make my knuckles turn white:

* Climbing a ladder higher than 15 feet.

* Losing retirement money in the stock market.

* Riding the first big downhill of a roller coaster.

OK, here’s another: going out for a morning run in 42-degree weather without gloves. Nothing like a frosty October morning to make you realize, the hard way, that summer is completely over.

Oh, ow, oh, ow! My knuckles went from pink to alabaster within 10 minutes.

I thought my hands would warm up on their own within a few minutes, as my blood started pumping faster. Well, my circulatory system didn’t get that memo. My hands stayed cold for the entire run.

And I wasn’t running loops past my house, which I sometimes do, which would have allowed me to stop in and dig out my gloves. I was running down the road, away from my house, for a 5 1/2 mile run.

Fall got cold in a hurry this year. I learned that the hard way this morning.

I finished up my run in 41:11, headed back inside, and put my chilly hands around a steaming cup of coffee. It took about 10 minutes to get feeling back.

Remind me not to sign up for the Antarctica Marathon.

***********************************************************************************

GET OFF MY HEELS, PAL

In my last post, I wrote about running a 5-mile race on Saturday, and how I surprised myself  by setting a new PR.

It was a fun morning, and cool way to start the weekend.

But there was more to the story, something that I didn’t write about at the time.

This is about another runner who ran right on my heels, drafting off me repeatedly, with no shame.

It was a windy morning. He saw a chance to tuck in behind me and let me handle the wind resistance, while he got to save energy by running in my wake.

I didn’t like, and I had a tough time dealing with it. I tried to shake him several times by swerving to the side. He got the hint, and ran to one side for a while. But then, a half-mile later, he was back on my tail.

Yes, I admit, drafting is legal and can give runners a tactical edge.

But in my book, if you’re going to draft off another runner during a windy race (especially a stranger), you should be a good sport and take a turn in the lead. Or you’re going to quickly get a reputation as a free-loading jerk.

This wasn’t a case of a crowded field, with thousands of runners jammed shoulder to shoulder. There were only about 100 runners, spread along a 5-miler.

He just happened to like running on my heels, even though there was plenty of room all around me.

As I saw it, I had three  choices:

1) Kick into higher gear and try to shake him. I did this a couple times, for a few seconds, but I didn’t want to blow out my engines. I was already running at a hard, steady pace.

2) Fall behind him and tell him it’s his turn to share the work. But that would require me to (a) slow down for a moment and (b) run at this guy’s pace and (c) waste time and energy trying to negotiate all of this.

3) Continue to swerve occasionally, hoping he will get the hint.

I managed to shake the guy for the last mile, when the course climbed a hill and he fell back. But then, approaching the finish line, I could hear him gaining on me.

I tried to kick harder, but I didn’t have much left in the furnace. I was already running at top speed for this distance, and wasn’t saving anything for a big, final kick.

In addition, this was a difficult finish: in a high school parking lot: a long straightaway (maybe 200 yards) with a stiff headwind, right after a tough climb in the last mile. 

You guessed it: The guy passed me, beating me by about three seconds. I couldn’t do anything about it, except hope he wasn’t in my age group. As it turns out, he wasn’t. According to the race results, he was 31.

Still, at the finish line, I was tempted to walk up to him and say: “Nice finish! How the hell did you do it, champ?” — and let the sarcasm do all the talking.

But he wasn’t really breaking any rules, just racing smart, I suppose. Next time, I’ll just have to save something for the end and let my feet do the talking

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One Response to “White knuckles and draft dodgers”

  1. I guess tripping a drafter wouldn’t go over well.

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