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I am the Tortoise.

2004-05-31 - 10:09 a.m.

Who knew that slow and steady actually does win the race? I'd always lost to the fast and steady in the past.

Much to my astonishment, and a bit of chagrin, I beat my father in the 10K this weekend.

The astonishment part comes from the fact that I am very consistent and my body has a definite natural pace, so my time varies between roughly 58 ½ minutes and 55 minutes while he. Just. Gets. Faster. Every. Damn. Year. And last year he ran it in 50 minutes.

The chagrin part comes from the fact that I didn’t win because this, this was the year I trained my little heart out and came in with a sub-50 time myself. In fact, when he hit 50 minutes last year I found it kind of freeing in the sense that I can’t imagine ever running 10K that fast so I decided to have a good solid run and not kill myself this year. If a 10K could be fun, fun I would have.

So I did. I started at the back of the 5800-person pack, kept a very even pace (I ran the second 5K 15 seconds faster than the first), passed people all the way along until the end when everyone sped up for the sprint to the finish, and was almost dead on with my personal estimate of 58 minutes for my chip time (58:08).

I fully expected my father to have gotten there a good 10+ minutes before me. When I got to the rendezvous point J said he hadn’t seen him yet so we waited – maybe he was taking his time in the recovery area eating orange slices and yogurt – and waited – I started to get annoyed. I thought at that point he’d probably gotten there and not wanted to wait so he’d taken off. Odd but not the first time we’d missed each other after the race.

Finally, my patience wearing thin, I asked J how long before me he’d seen Dad go by.

He hadn’t.

Whaaat?!?

We had just started to head over to information to confirm that Dad had, in fact, run and finished the race when he came up, and said, “You won.”

Uncomprehending blink. “I won?”

“You won,” again, sticking his hand out, “Congratulations.”

I automatically reached out and he added “Don’t press too hard - I fell.”

“You fell?” It still hadn’t really sunk in what he was saying.

It turns out that he’d hit the halfway mark at around 24 minutes and with the delicious prospect of a 48-minute finishing time hovering before him, he’d pushed himself a bit too hard. By his account he’d gotten a bit dizzy at about 7 ½ kilometers and fell, and the paramedics swooped down on him and wouldn’t let him continue without checking him out.

He was on the sidelines being forced into having an EKG when he saw me chug on by.

I told him he should have said something; I would have stopped. His “No! I didn’t want you to stop!” was quite sharp. He said he’d made a tactical error and that the win was rightfully mine as a result. He was actually more gracious and less pissed off about the whole thing than I frankly would have expected.

So I didn’t lose. But I didn’t really “win” either.

My Dad’s a tough guy though. He refused to go to the hospital as the paramedics would have preferred. He may have finished in over an hour and twenty minutes, but by God, he finished.

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