So, I was asked this morning if I wanted to participate in a 5 mile run this Sunday. As you can imagine, this is not a question I’ve fielded many times in my life. It’d be like asking a known vegetarian if they were up for Nathan’s hot dog eating contest. Some things don’t mix. I have been sticking to my big hoss’ running guide, though. It was enough to make me not reject the offer immediately, though I was certainly thinking that someone like me should be tackling something known as a “fun run” or perhaps 5 kilometers before 5 miles.
I like to string people along for a while, so I asked for more details. Turns out, this running event is Brian’s Run in West Chester. An event that started to benefit a Henderson football player who suffered a spinal injury during a scrimmage. My family used to participate in this event every year back in the early days, so suddenly I was feeling a bit nostalgic. And, up for an anecdote.
Back in the days when I was a competitive runner (ages six thru eight) I made the rounds at Brian’s Run. At that time it was held at West Chester University and there was a 1 mile walk/run thing and then the real race was a 10K. My pops ran the 10 K portion, but the rest of us made our hay in the short race, then we’d head back to the stadium, watch the serious runners finish and hit the awards ceremony. It was a good time made all the more worthwhile thanks to a complimentary t-shirt or ski hat. I wonder if I could dig up my Brian’s Run ski hat with the 80s logo on it. Timeless.
Anyway, I’m making it all sound like fun and games, and it was for the most part (though I never scored a trophy), but there was the aftermath of my first trip to Brian’s Run. Quite Anecdote worthy.
As I said before this was just for me a one mile jaunt. Now, I was a pretty young hoss at the time. I don’t know when I started, but I’m sure I wasn’t older than six for my first time out (maybe I’d just turned seven). Now, I think I was a pretty active child, but I wasn’t a distance runner. I’d probably walked a couple of miles at a clip at that point, but no serious aerobic training. And, I’m not sure it would have helped either, because it wasn’t so much my lack of training that got me, it was my complete lack of a game plan.
I think there might have been a mild warning from someone in my family, “not to overdo it.” Pace yourself, or something of that nature. Well, at six or seven years old you have no feel for something like that. You’d be better off saying “pace yourself” and then placing a half-gallon of ice cream in front of my face. I was like a free-spirited puppy, recklessly running around unaware of the consequences. I’m also very competitive, so I wanted to beat a ton of people, and this was before I realized how to customize my hobbies so that I only do things I am good at. In short, pacing myself was not an option. It was go as hard as you can for as long as long as you can.
It was a pretty big field for the one-mile classic and I remember trying to weasel my way up toward the front, because you know every second counts, but amongst adults and everything else there was only so much I could do. Of course, there were dozens if not hundreds of people who were also faster than I was, but that is besides the point. The course was just a couple of tenths of a mile out, a couple back and then finish with a lap in the stadium. I think this only hurt me, because as I was hauling ass out toward the turnaround I saw people already headed back for home. The only thing to do was drop the hammer. I could have cheated the turnaround, but once a rule follower, always a rule follower. I just started running with everything I had.
I was moving, and there is actual photographic proof of this. They had a camera guy working the event and he captured me in the stadium in a dead sprint. To this day, it may be the most athletic I’ve ever looked in a picture. Peaked early, but what can I say? So, I was huffing and puffing, and I charged across the line. I remember some people being mildly impressed with the time it took me to finish, but it wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t like 6 minutes or anything like that. I was in first grade? I’m not sure what a good time would have been, but I remember being pretty satisfied with my time.
And, I remained satisfied with it until the next morning. I don’t remember exact details, and I don’t remember having any problems the night before, but when I woke up in the morning…someone was a little sore. But, since I’d never really been sore before, I had no idea what that was. I think reasonably, I quasi-panicked. Right when I got up my legs were so tight that I found myself crawling out of my bedroom and down the hall toward my parents room. Obviously, at the height of my concern, I did what any soft kid would have done. I called for my mother. My complaint? “Mom, I can’t walk!” And, there it is.
So, this coming Sunday, I’ll be attempting the actual race Brian’s Run. My triumphant return 20 years later. Hey, someone has to finish last in these things. If you’re going to be in West Chester, come on out and holler some insults at me. Also, I’m taking volunteers to carry me the last mile. Please sign up in 1/10 mile increments.