I’m not yet 30 years old.
I’m trying not to be sorry for that. In many circumstances in my life, I’ve been ashamed to be young. I’ve been called all sorts of derogatory terms for young, affectionately made to feel like a child, despite my accomplishments as an adult. But before this turns into a Tumblr rant about how mean old people can be, I’ll get on with it…
Is age just a number, or what?
For better or worse, much of my life has been in the churchy sphere of things. In that realm of society, people tend to be old, and they’re getting older. Perhaps that’s why they like to belittle those who appear young. Perhaps their penchant for considering existential things makes them feel even older.
For these existential considerations I internally feel older than the calendar suggests. I don’t think this matters particularly much. There will always be older people to make you feel too young, and always younger people to make you feel old.
Alas, I am older than I was, yet younger than I will be. This brings me to the matter today.
In June, I won a 5k. This was the first time in my life I’ve won a big race like that. I ran cross-country (CC) in high school to cross-train for swimming, and in college ran on my own for the same reason.
I was never particularly fast compared to my peers. My high school CC coach frequently reminded me that I was too big to be a distance runner, but I persisted.
The thing about this 5k that I won, is that there were only 4 men in the field to compete against. My time was 27:40, which is abysmal for any competitor. (For comparison, US Olympians ran about twice that fast. Paul Kipkemoi Chelimo finished Silver among men with 13:03.90 and Shelby Houlihan finished 11th among women with 15:08.89.)
Don’t get me wrong here – I don’t expect to run an olympic time, but I’d like to not get lapped 6 times in a 3.1 mile race.
But on that day, I was simply excited to have won. I showed up. I was the fastest man* in that race, and I pushed myself on a Saturday morning when I could have instead enjoyed the rare treat of sleeping in. I felt confident and strong, while fully aware that I was far slower than my fastest time.
I proudly and facetiously bragged to my parents, and during that time my father recounted a feat of his younger years. When he was in his late 20s, he would regularly run 5 miles in 30 minutes, which would have blown my time away.
I had felt like a victorious old man who still had some spunk; but suddenly I was more like a cheap winner.
I was Rocky at the beginning of Rocky 3 – a paper champ. I was soft.
And then was born the challenge: I have until my 30th birthday late next year to repeat this feat, this 5 mile, 30 minute run.
In high school CC, I never broke a 20 minute 5k, so this would be my fastest pace ever. I’ll use our modern mapping and timing technology to time and track, and I’m posting this declaration online to my billions of readers to be accountable.
Honestly, I don’t know that I can do this. I have a laundry list of higher priorities and excuses, but I’m running out of time.
So I think I’ll go train now. Either that or attend to my other priorities.
Growing up, right?
P.S. – I want to dunk too, but I need to increase my vertical by a good 10 inches for that.
*the women’s finisher beat me by about 2 minutes.