Well, I’ve navigated my two tune-up races before the National Senior Games in June and have once again proven I can’t do anything normally. Something weird usually happens wherever I go. While I confess a lot of times the weirdness is instigated by me, serendipity often visits with a smile.
To the point, in my first competition at the Polk County Senior Games two weeks ago, the news was not that I managed to get a bronze finish in a field of four in my age group. The headline is that I got beat by Batman! Whattaya mean by that? Glad you asked. The gold medalist turns out to be the nephew of Batman’s creator Bob Kane. His name? Bruce Wayne Kane, after the Caped Crusader’s alter ego. He wears a Batman medallion around his neck. How cool is that – I raced with comic royalty!
Bruce finished more than half a lap ahead of me. He’s a retired mail carrier, so no wonder he delivered quicker! Afterwards, he gave me the best compliment he could think of: “You had a pretty good time for a guy with your weight.” He’s a trim 180 and the second-place guy wasn’t much more than that. I’ve lost 30 pounds but still wavering around 240 with a goal to lose at least ten more. I guess I’m an 1 8-wheeler compared to his Batmobile.
My time of 12:55 was ten seconds slower than my first race in Washington last summer. But the next race held last weekend at the Good Life Games in my home county of Pinellas was humbling and challenging. I should have known when I parked next to a van with “POWER WALK – RACE WALK TRAINING” lettering and phone number on the side. “I hope I’m not racing that guy,” I thought. When we were mustering at the line, I asked the man next to me if he knew who that was and it turned out to be him. Of course, Andy Cowing was in my 65-69 group. My next thought was, “OK, I’m chasing silver.” Then I reminded myself I’m not really racing anyone more important than me. “Work your own race and try to beat your own time.”
Andy’s passion for race walk and power walk led him to organize a group in nearby Seminole. I am thankful that he was there despite being left in the dust, because he shared some good information. For example, when discussing weight, he confirmed that heavier people are usually slower. “For every five pounds you drop you will probably gain 30 seconds in the 5K,” he told me. Andy is excited about Power Walk gaining respect as a sport with its addition to the National Senior Games and he plans to be there. Ugh. But that’s OK, I accept that I will be middle of the pack at best in Albuquerque, I just want to keep improving and continue to gradually lose weight through reasonable lifestyle adjustments.
Unfortunately, the Good Life Games race was my worst to date. Within ten yards after the start, I felt a muscle tighten way up under my right hip. I had done light stretching and walking to warm up, so it was a surprise that it decided to dog me on this day. Rather than trying to push hard through it, I just established a comfortable pace and grinded out the three and three-quarters laps around the track at Clearwater High School. 13:25 finish, waaay off the mark. But I wasn’t going to aggravate this new ping and possibly screw up the big one in June. Chalk it up for experience and give thanks for a silver medal.
Andy also told me at my stage of development and fitness level I should not practice power walking for the race distance more than twice a week, and just do regular walk and normal exercise in between. I was doing three times a week but only two this week and my back and hip seem to be behaving much better. So there’s my plan for the next two months.
So I now have Gold from the Washington State Senior Games plus Silver and Bronze from my local games. Since my chances for a medal in large pack at Nationals are realistically slim, I now have a full set of medals as I prepare for the 1500-meter Power Walk at The Games in in June. Also nice to cover the podium on behalf of my buddy Eric Todd who is battling cancer and I have mainly dedicated this effort to. Go Team Eric, and Go ME!