Blindly Running Into the Next Decade

Allen, minutes into 2010 (photo courtesy of Carolina Snapshot)

Seconds after 12:22 on Friday morning, January 1, 2010, as I stepped across the finish line in the Running of the Lights in Clemmons, NC, I equaled something I had only done once in each of the prior 2 decades – I won my age group.  By 9:30 a.m. January 2, I had as many age group awards, 2, as I had all of 2009. 

But while I placed well among my 40 to 44-year-old peers, the Running of the Lights race itself, in a word, sucked.  (See Richard Hefner’s description of the race here.)  Note to future would-be-night-time-race-organizers:  please try to make sure there’s sufficient lighting.  Many of us nearly broke our necks out there.  Flying down a hill at breakneck speed in the pitch black, on a cold, wet, surface, has bad things written all over it.  The website race description led us to believe we’d be running through a well lit winter wonderland, but instead, we encountered a first mile nightmare, running  in what was nearly complete darkness.  And while someone tried to help by putting out lights near the speed bumps, said lights were positioned in such a way so that the light shone into your eyes, effectively blinding us and doing the exact opposite of what they were apparently designed to do.  Miraculously, I haven’t heard of anyone getting hurt, but I know many of us had close calls, namely with the speed bump/blinding light obstacles positioned throughout the course.

Throw in a frigid night, a muddy field, a tiny area where hundreds of cars dodged hundreds of people milling about in the dark, a girlfriend not exactly thrilled at the prospect of a New Year’s eve without revelry, and you have all the necessary ingredients for a giant excrement stew. 

I will say this for the evening – it beat 1989’s New Year’s Eve celebration where I spent most of the night puking champagne in a bar parking lot. If I hadn’t won my age group, I would declare the 2010 and 1989 celebrations a draw. 

But the race did serve the purpose I had hoped it would – it kept me from drinking heavily on New Year’s Eve.  During the drive back, no police officer stopped me to ask, ‘Sir, have you been running tonight?’  Not once did I think, ‘Oh crap, I’ve been running too much.  How am I going to get home?’

January 2nd’s race, the Mt. Mourne VFD Elf Run, was infinitely more enjoyable. Hanging out with my friend and mentor Ken Simpson and my running buddies Chad Randolph (chairman of the Davidson Area Running Team) and Theoden Janes (see Theoden’s write-up here), and meeting and chatting with new running friends Billy Shue, Jim Crotts, and Todd Hartung, was a blast.  Todd’s a fellow UNC alum and athlete, having wrestled at Carolina in the late 80’s/early 90’s.  I’ve seen his name ahead of mine in various local race results and it’s good to find out he was once a Division 1 athlete.  Somehow that makes me a feel a little better about losing to him on numerous occasions. 

I think it’s worth noting that I managed to finish a few seconds ahead of Todd and Chad (although in Chad’s defense, he was pushing a baby stroller), both of whom have qualified for Boston in the past.  I think that bodes well for me and my quest. 

Latest Weight Stats
Date:   1/2/2010 
Weight :163.2
Body Fat: 16.5%

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One Response to “Blindly Running Into the Next Decade”

  1. Richard Hefner Says:

    Hey Allen… I too was drawn to the Running of the Lights by the winter wonderland description on the race website. No doubt it was a huge disappointment for a lot of people. It definitely needs work. You ran great though!

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