Saturday, November 03, 2007

fiercely competitive also-ran

I ran another half marathon this morning. Actually, I added a little bit to it and ran about 14.5 miles. It was a small race down in Olathe, Kansas, and the course was a killer,with lots of hills.

I stuck pretty religiously to the run/walk plan today. I did it all the way to the end.

It's kind of entertaining. Throughout the whole race I'm catching up with other folks who went out faster than me. Often it takes me quite a few run/walk cycles to catch them. I gain a little on the run, then lose a little on the walk. It's kind of like fighting a big fish on the open sea.

My biggest fish today was The Flag Man. I saw this guy at the KC marathon two weeks ago. He runs the whole course with a flag pole propped on his shoulder and a great big American flag waving behind him.

I can't stand this guy. All I want to do is to beat him.

Today I got him in my sights at about mile five. I didn't catch him until nine. The whole time I'm thinking, You patriotic son of a bitch. I'll show you a thing or two about American pride! (Mind you, we're both running11-minute miles, near the absolute back of the field.)

But as I got closer, my eyes locked on his slow but steady form, the bright colors of Old Glory rippling in the morning sunlight, I found myself feeling some affection for him. If nothing else, he'd given me something of a purpose for the middle four miles of the race.

But when I sidled up beside him, making my big pass, he didn't even look over to give me a friendly "Hi there fellow 'Merican!" nod. He just looked straight ahead at the same spot in the road in front of him, a beed of sweat dangling from the brim of his hat.

What kind of patriot is that?

One about nine miles into a grueling 13.1-mile run, probably. Too tired to bond with a fellow countryman, I suppose.

That's right, Mr. Flag Man.

This 5.5-mile-an-hour lightning bolt of real American pride done passed you by!

Pledge alegience to that, bee-yotch!!

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