Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Screw Mike, I Want to Be Like Gifton

Photo: pedrosimoes7, Flickr Creative Commons

For those of you not hanging onto my every word over on Facebook, I ran a 5K race in Atlanta this past weekend and I did pretty well. I ran the entire distance even though downtown Atlanta is significantly hillier than the swamps of southern Georgia. That's not to say that Atlanta is hilly. It's just that I literally can't find even a mild grade to train on where I live and the supposedly easy course for the ShamRock 'N Roll 5K actually had hills steeper and longer than anything in my home county.

Despite the foreign topography, I managed to keep almost the exact same pace I did in my training runs (around a 10-minute mile), and I even had ample energy to sprint the last tenth of a mile. That last little bit tells me I should have been running the first two miles faster, but I was playing it conservatively and I thought I could assume that pegging my pace to that sinewy guy clad entirely in technical running gear would mean that I was actually pushing myself. I left him behind sometime during the third mile and I never saw him again. Maybe his gaunt features were from disease instead of a training regimen. Maybe I managed to beat a cancer survivor. Maybe I just managed to beat a cancer sufferer.

Anyway, I was pretty happy with the results. It felt easy, even the hill climbs, and I posted a pace that I'm happy with at this point in my training. I'm not going to worry about the fact that I had enough conditioning to post a faster time. I'm not really experienced enough yet to know my pace by feel. I'm not even entirely clear on what paces I can maintain over a certain distance. I'll work on that.

Last night, I was noodling around on a few running sites while waiting for my masters class pages to load and I came across the distance running records for the state of Georgia. There were a few results that were shocking. For example, some guy ran a 24-hour race and managed to get 142 mi. 598 yds. in 24 hours. If I did my math right, that means that the guy averaged the same pace for an entire 24 hours that I averaged for only 30 minutes.

All of the records paled in comparison to the record for 5K races in the 85-90 age bracket. A guy named Gifton Jolly finished a 5K back in 1992 with a time of 28 minutes and 25 seconds. True, he was at the low end of that age bracket, but he was still 85 years old. 85. That's eight and a half decades of life at the time. He was closer to being 100 than he was to being 70 (assuming that he hadn't just turned 85 that day). He was 85 and running at a pace in which he could not have walked a single step of that race. Wow. Just wow. If I have to live that long, I really want to be in shape like that.


Courtney said...

Old people who still run in races are amazing. I would say that I hope I'm like that when I'm old, but I'm too lazy to run in races now, so I doubt that'll happen.

Julie said...

Finishing at any age is great, let alone with a really good time. Challenge?

Chris said...

Re: your possible cancer survivor... it always happens that way. As soon as you pick out someone to pace off, you quickly realize you badly misjudged their abilities. That's always my experience.

Then at the end of the race, you realize the person you should have been running beside was some 11-year-old girl who beats you by a quarter mile.