A Question to Our Master’s Runners

I recently ran I 5k where the days leading up to the race were not that great.  I was getting sick (my one year-old passed on a virus to me) but like most busy adults I was in denial and kept up my regular daily routines. In general I felt tired and unenthusiastic about running. I logged minimal mileage the week before the race. I considered not going but hey, I paid to be there so why not? The race was a large enough event to have several waves of start groups (It was the Atlanta Half-Marathon and 5k on Thanksgiving day).

I was in the first group, but not knowing how my body would react to running hard after not feeling well, I lingered in the back of the pack on purpose. My logic for this was as follows: if I am forced to run slower than normal then perhaps I won’t feel terrible at the end of the race even if I am getting sick. So that is what I did. It took me about 30 extra seconds past the gun to reach the start line. I had to weave in and out of people methodically and slow for about the first ½ mile.

My plan worked perfectly. I went about 30 seconds slower on the first mile than I normally would and then ran each mile faster. Despite an unsure beginning I had a great race. I did finish much faster than the other runners around me, probably because I held back at the beginning.

In my final push to the finish I passed several people, one of which was an older man. He was probably in his 50’s or 60’s. I could tell that he was kicking to the finish line. As I passed him our eyes met for a split second. The look on his face was awful. I actually felt kinda bad for going by him.

Several thoughts have rattled around in my brain since that brief encounter with the old man who looked so dejected by my kick. One thought was how would I feel if I were in his shoes. I hope that I would be glad to still be racing no matter how fast or slow I am. But then the competitive side of me doesn’t want anyone to beat me! So I ask our master’s runners out there, is being out-kicked by someone who is not quite a master herself and obviously has too much left at the end of a race okay?


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  • By Anonymous, January 30, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

    First of all, someone in his 50s or 60s is not old, not by any measure, and especially not by today’s standards. You ask your qustion to Masters, but you could ask it of anyone who is not a particularly fast runner. I know some Masters runners who are still competing 5Ks in under 18 minutes. I happen to be a Grand Masters runner who was never particularly fast, but never liked being outkicked at the Finish Line, either. If we weren’t competitive, even if it means competing with ourselves, we wouldn’t be racing. It’s what makes us runners instead of joggers. Is it “okay” to be outkicked by someone who hasn’t lived as long as we have? It doesn’t matter if it is or it isn’t. It may happen. And when it does, we will still cross the same finish line and get the same tee shirt, and maybe, just maybe, get an age group award to boot!

  • By Hollar, January 30, 2012 @ 9:23 pm

    True! True! I think that this quote is right on…

    “I hope that I would be glad to still be racing no matter how fast or slow I am.”

    Enjoy the process and out kick everyone you can out kick. 50’s and 60’s is old…

  • By David Jones, January 30, 2012 @ 9:25 pm

    I am 53 and I feel very old, but would be happy to see you on the kick. Ha Ha. Happy trails!


  • By Chester, January 30, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

    When we get old that’s the way we look. Don’t take it personal..

  • By Dr. Ruth, January 30, 2012 @ 9:38 pm

    Calling a 50 or even a fit 60 year old an old man is far worse than out-kicking him. You might have misinterpreted his dejected look…he may have just been giving it all he had (which obviously you weren’t 🙂 If masters runners were worried about being beaten by younger runners (and oh by the way they beat quite a few), they wouldn’t even be racing. Just go run your race and don’t call us old! PS: I love you Karmen!

  • By Paul Deaton, January 31, 2012 @ 8:12 am

    Your Comments
    Bring It…the best compliment you can give me in a race is your best effort to compete with me.

  • By Pappy, January 31, 2012 @ 9:34 am

    Your Comments
    I grew up in the ’50’s before t-ball and the “everyone is a winner” phenomenon. So, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. The fun is in the competition–against self and worthy competitors. “old people, though slow and dangerous behind the wheel can still serve a useful purpose……”

  • By Ellen, January 31, 2012 @ 9:56 am

    Obviously, if it bothered me I wouldn’t be out there. This is a competition against myself and possibly those my own age. If I pass a younger person, the look on their face is much the same as you described. They realize that if I’m passing them, they must be pretty slow!

  • By Clarista, February 7, 2012 @ 6:26 pm

    Those pelpoe who run 3-4 abreast, slowly, at the front of the race field and do not let other runners through. They should be made to be a part of a "chain gang" for a week.

  • By Arun, February 10, 2012 @ 4:13 am

    SEPPUKU IS THE ONLY HONORABLE WAY OUT. Now back to your rlgrlauey scheduled polite discussion of pushups and other such inadequate measures.

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