When Kit started running consistently and entering road races, waiting among the non-runners for her to finish embarrassed me. I contemplated buying a leg brace as a silent, albeit false, excuse for my inactivity. Eventually embarrassment forced me to don expensive shoes and hit the track.
My first race turned into a disaster. Running shorts that I had practiced in decided to slip down to my knees. Using both hands to hold up your pants does not add to your running form or speed. Eventually, I removed the safety pins holding on my number and attached my pants to my T-shirt. I barely managed to finish before everybody went home.
At 170 pounds in the 1990s, I qualified for the “Clydesdale” division. That division gave larger runners like me a chance of winning something in a race. I never managed to finish better than lower-to-middle even in that relatively slow grouping.
I beat the dachshund once though. Many entered their dogs in races to run with them. A dachshund in our area was famous for turning seven-minute miles over long distances. For the start of one race, I edged my way to the front to get a lead on the short-legged dog. Then imagining the pitter-patter of his little feet passing me in front of all, I ran my heart out. With tremendous relief, I staggered over the finish line a minute or two before the fresh-looking dachshund.
While recuperating, I sidled over to the dog and his owner. “Your dog is pretty fast on those short legs,” I complimented.
“He can be,” the young woman answered. “Right now, he’s recovering from hip-replacement surgery.”
Beating a crippled dog with six-inch legs was my best race. Sciatic pain made me give up running. I wish I could run one race again, even if slower than a dachshund. Enjoy each moment while you can.