Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ready, set, "Wanna Race" . . . GO!

The consequences to my actions lay only a few days away. This seemed like such a great idea when I signed up 6 months ago. I knew it would motivate me to get in shape and lose weight and it did, but now it is here . . . an experience of pure torture called the Nashville Half Marathon and I’ll be running (uh, maybe jogging . . . uh, maybe) the entire 13.1 miles this Saturday. Just this week I received my confirmation email (I guess it took them this long to coordinate the proper medical personnel in order to let this fat guy run the race) with my corral assignment. I'll probably need to explain what a corral is, although, you can probably figure it out from the title. Because this particular event has so many registered runners (around 35,000 are expected this year . . . yes, I said 35,000 runners), logistically, you simply cannot have a mass start (although it would be funny to see 35,000 runners try and line up on "Ready, Set, Go!"). So the organizers have essentially created waves of 1,000 people at a time (these waves are separated by about 1-2 minutes, giving time for the runners to spread out a bit and allowing the course to not be too crowded. If you do the math, that means there will be approximately 35 waves. It sounds like a mess . . . and it is, except it is strangely an organized mess.
Some of you may be concerned, "But Matt, what about your course record-setting time? If you start later than others, don't they have an advantage?"
Thanks for your concern, but ultimately my record-setting time is safe no matter where I start. You see, a timer chip is placed in your shoe that triggers a clock when you cross the start line and again when you cross the finish line, so the timing is an accurate result of your run (there goes one excuse). Nonetheless, there is some strategy in corral position. The theory is, put the faster runners at the front and the slower runners at the back in order to prevent the speed demons from running over the tortoises. I, qualify as a tortoise, so theoretically, I should be at the back (corral #34 would probably be appropriate).
However, because I was looking forward to this event with so much anticipation, I signed up early . . . very early. So early in fact, I was one of the first 2000 people to sign up for the event. I can almost hear your minds figuring this out. Yes, this is where the theoretical system fails. If there are 1,000 people PER CORRAL and if you are one of the first 2,000 people to sign up, even if you are the slowest person of those 2,000 . . . your race position will be in corral #2. So here we go, this Saturday, in an event with about 35,000 runners, including Olympic hopefuls and World Record setters, I will be toeing the line in corral #2.
I will probably be shoulder to shoulder with some wiry, professional Kenyan marathoner. So I’ve decided on my strategy. I'll put my toe on the line (slightly in front of his) and slowly turn my face to lock eyes with this key competitor. We'll size each other up (this should take him significantly longer as there is much more of me to size up) and I'll give him that intimidating Clint Eastwood squint.
Then, for all the fat guys in the world who have never won a race, in a low, gravelly voice, I'll say, "Wanna race?” Before he laughs and before the gun goes off and I am exposed for the snail that I am, I will have that one shining moment of glory, I was winning a half marathon against a true professional . . . unfortunately, this is when they will say, “Ready, Set, GO!”

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