Give me a moo

Lately, I’ve been feeling like a fat, slow cow.

It’s my own fault. Most mornings, I usually run just two miles around my neighborhood. Then I call it quits.

Who's the real cow here?

You read that right. Two miles. And quits. Pretty pathetic, huh?

So do I get faster? No.

Do I lose weight? No.

Do I feel better? No.

Do I moo? Yes I do.

Injury or no injury, that is not an ambitious comeback program.

How far I’ve fallen! Just three years ago, I ran a 50K ultramarathon on a rugged hiking trail.

Two years ago, I ran my best marathon in a long time.

Now I’m a pavement shuffler with a big tummy.

At this rate, will I be ready for the Geist Half Marathon in May? Of course not. It’s time to stop shuffling and start running.

So this week, I decided to push the distance — all the way to a 5K! Yep, a whole 3.1 miles! Cowabunga! (A little cow humor, in keeping with our theme.)

A few days ago, Mrs. Trail Boy signed up the family for a the Great North Run. It’s a fundraiser for our school district, and an annual ritual. We’ve run this race five years in a row. (See here, for example.)

This morning, I drove out to North Central High School and picked up the race packets.

There were three of us running this race: me, Mrs. Trail Boy, and Son #2. (The fastest runner in the family, Son #1, volunteered at the race with his track team.)

The race had two options: 5K and 10K. We all decided to be sensible and do the 5K.

This being a school event, we ran into oodles of familiar faces during the pre-race festivities and at the starting line.

The 10K started first. We stood nearby and cheered them as the gun went off.

About this time, I quickly realized I was, well, a royal screw-up. I had forgotten my running watch at home. I had forgotten my timing chip at home.

I’m lucky I remembered to put on my pants.

Well, ready or not, it was time to race.

But first, I noticed a large cow mascot for Chick-fil-A, a race sponsor. I scooted over and got a picture with the cow. (See above.) I figured it was symbolic of my self-image in recent months. I had to capture the image for my race report.

I was so psyched, I let out a moo. Just a little one.

Then I scurried back to the starting line, where I reviewed my race goals:

* Run the entire course, without stopping or walking. (Don’t laugh. Last year, my leg hurt so bad, I walked the entire course.)

* Finish under 28 minutes (roughly a 9:00 pace).

* Don’t moo. Once was enough.

At 9:30, the race started. I put away my camera and got to work. Left foot, right foot, repeat.

I chugged and chugged. I huffed and puffed.

The course was on pavement: a mix of pretty, back roads and busy, main roads.

The elevation was flat, except for a couple of mild rollers in the first mile and a gradual, easy climb in the second mile.

I’ve run this course a bunch of times, so it wasn’t much of an adventure. The adventure would be to see if I could meet my goals.

I didn’t have my watch, so I didn’t know how I was doing. Nor were there any race volunteers calling out times at the mile markers.

So I just pushed myself at a reasonable pace and kept moving my feet.

After mile two, I was into new territory. I took a deep breath and pushed on.

Finally, the finish line came into view. I could see the big clock: It said 26-something.

Cool, I would beat my goal. I pushed a bit harder and crossed the finish line in 26:37. That was the equivalent of an 8:34 per mile pace.

Of course, you won’t find my name on the official results. I forgot my timing chip, remember?

In the finish area, I saw Son #2. He said he had finished in 24 minutes. I gave him a hearty backslap.

Then we walked back to the finish line to await Mrs. Trail Boy. She was walking the course with a friend, so I knew we would have a few minutes to wait.

During that time, I saw a few more friends, and even an editor from work. Being a born-again gadget geek, I also uploaded a few photos onto Facebook and Twitter.

Then I saw Mrs. Trail Boy, coming down the home stretch. She broke into a run and crossed the mat in 41 minutes.

And that was our little adventure.

I feel a little less like a cow.

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