I crossed the 5k finish and threw my hands up in victory.
Twenty minutes later, the race organizers posted the times.
I’d won my age group! For the first time in my life!
You may be wondering how I’d reached the zenith of my sport?
First, I’d nuanced my nutrition and employed interval training to increase my speed.
Second, I made a savvy, veteran race choice. Unlike the last run in which I not only didn’t finish in the top three but lost to a trio of guys who’d just finished a 10-mile race!
Third, I moved into the 50-54 age bracket and have now outlived (or at least my knees have) much of my meaningful competition.
It wasn’t always this way.
I trained like a maniac as a teenager only to have my athletically-gifted brother trounce me by more than a minute in our annual 5k even. And he ran in corduroy pants!
I was an ok high school athlete. I led my JV soccer team in assists and made varsity in my senior year, only to lose my starting spot to a sophomore on a 3-12 team.
I discovered my gift later in life. Unlike friends who’d racked up high school trophies or played college athletics, I wasn’t trying to live up to a remarkable younger version of myself.
I discovered the “Joy of the Middling Athlete,” and I was now the undisputed champion of the Male 50-54 Westside JCC Holiday 5k age group.