Today was gloriously beautiful. The sun was out and a cool breeze was blowing as a bunch of 10K runners set out for the hills around Avalon. In less than 1 mile we were starting a gradual climb along Pebbly Beach. Breathtaking views took my breath away. Soon, I could hear voices above me. Looking in the direction of the voices, I was surprised to see runners climbing up a significantly more challenging assent. Just ahead I made the turn and began a very challenging climb up a paved road. To the right was the ocean and blue sky. It was a gorgeous distraction to a beautifully challenging uphill.
I let gravity take me down the hill fast after reaching the 3 mile point. I reminded myself to relax and let my feet turn over rapidly. Soon I was passing people like I was on a bicycle. I couldn’t believe it, but I liked it. The downhill didn’t last too long. By mile 4 another, more gradual, climb was upon us.
We cheered the race leaders as the zoomed by in the opposite direction. I saw the two girls who had caught my eye at the Long Beach port for Catalina. They looked awesome. As I counted the female runners ahead of me, I realized that I was doing well. I didn’t know how well. It is hard to measure who old people really are, and especially hard for me to get used to my new age group. I mention this because I figured that the two girls leading the pack were in my age group. By the time I was heading towards the finish line, I was passing more runners. Although most of these runners were women, I didn’t think that they were my age. Except for the girl who was just ahead of me when I got very close to the finish, I didn’t not feel any qualms about passing anyone. They could pick up the pace if they were up for the challenge. I was apprehensive of passing this one girl though. I had chatted with her at the start. I looked over at her, she picked up the pace with me and I settled back to let her finish just ahead of me. I did not go the extra push at the end and walked towards my hotel room thinking that I did right. After all (I thought), it wasn’t like I was racing to place.
A couple of hours later, I stopped by the finish to take some photos of the marathon finishers. I was in awe of the apparent feat that they had overcome. Then I stopped by the window to see just how I placed in my race. To my surprise, I finished 2nd in my age group — just 0.2 seconds behind the 1st place finisher. In looking closer, it appears that, the girl who finished 0.2 seconds ahead of me was the 3rd or 4th place female finisher. Wow! Did I let that happen? What would have happened if I had challenged her to the duel? Would she have beaten me anyways? I’ll never know. Still, I feel really good…except for my knee!