Sunday, March 22, 2009

Noggin' 5K: My side of the story

(Above) The world’s elite 5000m runners jostle for position at the start, trying to gain that extra edge.
The last time these runners went toe-to-toe was last August in Beijing (Below).

By now, I’m sure you have already heard of my controversial win at the “Joggin' for Your Noggin' 5K & Walk/Roll-athon”. It’s on the front page of every newspaper, and CNN, MSNBC, and ESPN are still camped out on my lawn. Everyone wants to know, how did a 38 year-old amateur runner cross the finish line first at the one of the world’s most prestigious running events?

First, let me state for the last time, unequivocally, that I did NOT take any performance enhancing drugs, or cheat in any way. Those that have claimed to witness me “blood doping” before the race are mistaken. What they probably saw was me receiving an intravenous glucose/sodium fluid boost from Dr. Gunnar Svedberg, a well known and respected scientist from Stockholm who is part of my support team. Everything I did to prepare for this race, from shaving my legs to sleeping in a hypobaric chamber was perfectly legal.
That’s me behind Oliver “Whitey”
Whitman, one of fastest runners
in Northwood Elementary 3rd grade
gym class, and a fierce competitor.
He gave me a sharp elbow when I
tried to pass him on the inside
of the turn at mile 2.

Now for my race recap. At the start, I was nervous as I eyed my competition, making note of who I needed to worry about. After evaluating the field I came up with a list the top four:

- Winston Beck, an up and coming speedster who has claimed many titles this past year. My plan was to counter his speed with my experience, and hope he made a youthful mistake like going out too fast. Winston is 12 years old.

- Guy De Burgh, a veteran runner making a resurgence on the local 5K scene. He is 53 and lives across the street from me.
- Shannon Johnstone, AKA “The Duchess of Frost”. I could tell she meant business because she left her bag of Skittles and Swedish Fish at home. She did have her camera though, and if she stopped to take pictures, I might have an edge on her.

-Some bald guy in a yellow jacket. He looked fast.

After the start whistle we took off like a shot, and I was in the middle of the lead pack. I tried to find someone to draft behind, but it wasn’t effective because the guys in front of me were all children about 3 feet tall. I tried moving left and then right, but I was boxed in, feeling like I was fighting my way through the line at the mall to see Santa Claus.

The “Joggin' for Your Noggin'" course
was carefully designed to serve
as a learning aid, illustrating
the complex digestive tract of a cow

After a few turns, I found myself surprisingly in the lead, and became concerned that I had no one else to follow. I had flash backs to the “Frozen 5K” where I had become lost in the woods and almost froze to death. After that experience, I tried to study the “Joggin' for Your Noggin” course map carefully, but just like Rubik’s Cube when I was 16, I gave up in frustration. If “Joggin' for Your Noggin” refers to fact the course is a brain teasing puzzle, then finishing merits admission to Mensa.

Fortunately there was a guy on a bike leading the way, so I tried to get behind him so I wouldn’t get lost, but he kept speeding up. “Wow! You’re doing great!”, the spectators cheered. “No!” I puffed, “I’m dying trying to keep up with this guy!” I guess every one else did get lost on the course, because I crossed the finish line first with no one passing me. And that was it. Shannon crossed shortly after, setting a woman’s course record of 21:44.
I would like to the thank the “Joggin' for Your Noggin” organizers for the well organized race and generous awards, Dr. Gunnar Svedberg for my pre-race boost, and the guy on the bike for leading the way.

The top 4 finishers. Don Schoppe, Guy De Burgh, Winston Beck, and Me

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