This thread has died now that Newguy isn't around any longer.
I'll make a stab at restarting it.
A description of two of my recent races follows.
I'm standing on the starting line for a race in Golden Gate Park waiting for the gun to go off when I flash back a half dozen years to the first time I did this race.
It is about 30 minutes before the start and I'm looking around at my competition. It looks like there are a couple of hundred people in the race and normally in a race this size I'll place top three in my age group and maybe top 10 overall but this is a USA Track & Field race that my running club talked me into so I'm thinking maybe the competition will be different.
I look around and notice that everyone looks really skinny. I'm 5'11" (normally I round up to 6' but this is the internet so have to tell the truth
) and 165 lb (or at least I was then) and most people think that I'm skinny but I seem to out weigh almost everyone but at least 20 lbs.
These guys look really tough. They have really, really skinny arms. No biceps at all. Most of them look like they can't bench press 20 lb. They all look like Kenyans that spent to much time on the bleach cycle in the wash. I'm know I'm in trouble.
A few later minutes the gun goes off and the race is on. I hit the mile marker at about 5:40 which is probably a bit faster than I should be running but it looks like the whole flipping field is in front of me. I can't even see the race leaders anymore.
I have a Butch Cassidy moment. You know when Butch and Sundance are being chased by the posse and just can't shake them and one looks at the other and says, "Who are these guys?"
After the race I scan the results and learn a bit more about who these guys are. I notice one guy that was in the Olympic finals for the 1500m a few years earlier and a woman that is a contender for the marathon in the next Olympics.
Now a half dozen years later I'm ready to try again. Only now I'm coming off of two solid years of injuries with little or no running. I'm out of shape and 15 lb heavier.
The results are different this time. I'm even farther back in the pack.
But I get the consolation prize a couple of days later when I get the results and find that I finish high enough to be listed in the USATF standings. I'm now a ranked runner in the USA Track and Field standings in the 50+ age category for Norcal.
(Note that it helped that I have "graduated" into the 50 year age group and now compete against all of those really old guys
A couple of months later I'm at the start line again. I wasn't sure that I wanted to do this race but it's close and doesn't start until 9am so I don't have to get up early so I decide to go for it.
It is a small local race that I've done 3 or 4 times before. I have a 2nd and a 3rd in my age group from my 40s but I haven't done it for about 4 years.
I look around and don't see anyone my age that I know (i.e. that can beat me) but you never know in these races. About a mile from the finish I pass a guy that looks like he could be in my age group but I'm still way slower than my target time -- almost 3 minutes or 1/2 mile slower than just a couple of years earlier. I think maybe I should give up running and take up something boring like golf
So I'm surprised an hour or so later when I hear the announcer say " . . . . and the winner of the 50-59 age group is MB."
So what did I learn from these races:
(1) Sometimes when you are old enough to be considering ER or R just getting to the starting line is enough to win, and
(2) Sometimes you have to try to run with the big dogs even if you know you're going to get your butt kicked because something good may just come out of it.