Turkey Chase 5k Run
November 7, 1998

November in Blacksburg is usually cold. This year it was unseasonably cold. It had been very warm for months. Somehow summer seemed to last forever. Last weekend I was still wearing shorts. Today I ran the 5k in a snowcap, a sweat shirt and pants, and gloves. The temperature was a chilly 35 degrees (F). And the course was quite challenging.

Everyone arrived and signed up well before the start, which took place at 8:30 am. I did a warm up run and stretched. The course worked its way through various neighborhoods of the town. There were two classes: 5K and 10K. Not having run competitively since high school I opted for the 5K.

From the start I felt different from the old days. I used to get nervous, butterflies in my stomach, and the first few hundred meters were always mentally the most difficult. This time it was different. Everything felt light and easy. Right away I was near the front. Whether I am racing a car, on a bike, or on foot, there are strategies that are common to all competitions of this nature. Suffice it to say that the more racing one does, the better one learns to compete.

As the kilometers passed by I found myself up as high as second place. This course was very hilly, and that tends to work to my advantage on the uphills. As I watched the leader, trying to find a way to pass him, someone else overtook me and then the leader. Thus I was then in third place.

My lungs were working hard, but feeling fine. What was odd was that I could not feel the air that was coming in. It was so cold that my nose was numb. Beyond that I had to contend with a group of runners right behind me. I could hear their footsteps. Fourth place and I had an intense battle. We passed each other back-and-forth at least two or three times. Near the end we were neck and neck.

But during the last few hundred meters he had a very strong surge and took third. I finished fourth overall (out of more than 70 competitors) and second in the 21-30 age group. The thing about racing is that there is one winner, and everyone else loses. Therefore the odds are against you. But I learned a lot from today's event. And eventually I will learn to win. I hope this is a prelude of things to come.