The Patriot Festival 5K, aka My Brush With CIA Black Ops

Last week, with my running resume showing nothing but marathon training for the past few months, I was ready to begin working on speed again. This was an easy sell for Laura, so last Saturday, we found ourselves up early, scrambling to wrangle in the dubs and find running gear to rush out to race in the Patriot Festival 5K.

We pulled into South Park (Charlotte, not Colorado, lest anyone out there is confused) lateish  – would you be surprised if we were anything but? Laura and I rushed to register while the boys casually played video games on their tablets – pretty standard fare for our household.

We were too late to get in a ‘real’ warm-up – we might have traversed a quarter of a mile before it was time to toe the line. A military veteran grabbed the mic and gave a motivational speech about the real reason we were gathered and I fought back tears at the moving stories of fallen comrades.

Mere moments later, Tim Rhodes yelled “Go!” and we were racing.

I literally could not remember my last 5K – it had been months. I had no idea what I was capable of on this cool, May morning, and during the mad rush of getting ready, I was unable to locate my heart rate monitor in time, so I wouldn’t be able to gauge things by heart rate. I was going old school and racing strictly by feel.

Bobby was in the field so, as I’ve been known to do, I decided to try and tuck in behind him and let him take pacing duties. Here you see me, nearly on the opposite end of the front row from Bobby:

Just out of the gate. I'm about to sit on Bobby and hope he'll pull me through.

Just out of the gate. That’s me, front row, fifth from the right, in the black JITFO singlet. I’m about to sit on Bobby, second from the left in the yellow Reckless Running singlet, and hope he’ll pull me through.

I struggled from the get-go. Somehow I’d forgotten just how painful 5Ks can be, and especially when you haven’t trained specifically for them. Or warmed up.

The first mile started straight uphill and I desperately sucked wind. I kept telling myself to just stay with Bobby but it became painstakingly obvious that was a much easier said than done endeavor. He was slowly but surely dropping me – a new plan of action was called for. I call it the “hang on for dear life” strategy.

And that’s what I did – I ran hard and desperately tried to maintain an even effort, even as my pace precipitously slowed throughout. The vet who had spoken a few minutes earlier, I’m guessing in his late forties or early fifties, casually passed me and effortlessly called out, “Good morning! Good job!” and I muttered some breathless grunted salutation back, “Groof morin”, between huffs and puffs. I know he’s military and in shape and all, but I really ought to be able to make it a little more difficult for him. Not on this day.

This was just one of those days where, like some terrified spectator of a slowly developing catastrophe, you just watched things unravel. My pace slowed and slowed and slowed some more and there was not one damn thing I could do about it, no matter how hard I tried. I ran the first mile in 6:16. The second was in 6:34. And it only got worse from there.

Somewhere late in the race, a woman passed me and I recognized her. “Where do I know her from?”, I thought. I didn’t even try to go with her as she easily dropped me while I tried to place her.

Everything continued to fall apart as I struggled to hang on. This race rapidly turned into one of those, “*&^%! Let’s just get this over with.” kind of affairs.

Standing on the starting line, I had formulated a few goals, and here are the results:

1) Break 20 – fail.

2) Hang with Bobby – fail.

3) Get an age group award – fail.

4) Don’t lose to anyone that will cause you to feel humiliated – fail.

5) Finish without puking, passing out, or dying – success!

No puking or passing out - success!

I crossed the line and did not immediately puke, pass out, or die – success!

I finished and was just glad it was over. Here’s Laura a few seconds later:

Somehow, I don't know how, I managed to stay ahead of this fast woman.

Somehow, I don’t know how, I managed to stay ahead of this fast woman.

As Laura and I ran a couple laps around South Park to cool down, I was the uplifting one while Laura beat herself up – a bit of a role reversal. I was perfectly content with my performance.

Then the awards happened. When her name was called out and the lady who had passed me received her award, third place woman overall, all my contentment washed away. I had lost to Paula Broadwell and I was damn near distraught about it.

For those of you that don’t recognize the name, and/or are too lazy/time-contrained to click on the link above, Paula Broadwell is the woman who had the affair with General Petraeus, ultimately resulting in his resignation as head of the CIA.

There are a couple of reasons that I find this particularly humiliating. One, I like to pretend, or rather attempt to fool myself into believing, that I am a serious runner. I fervently believe that I should not lose to over-40-filandering-probably-unbalanced-posing-as-runners women. I just shouldn’t. And yet I did.

Two, I did a lot of making fun of Broadwell back when she was Petraeus’ biographer and she was frequently quoted as claiming that the two of them often ran sub-seven minute miles together. I called bullshit.

So now I am forced to eat the old proverbial crow since she smoked me. I still doubt that Broadwell and Petraeus ran a lot of seven minute miles together. But I believe that they most likely ran some at that pace. You know, before they went home and did the nasty.

In conclusion, before I get back to the regularly scheduled blog, I want my many loyal readers to know that I debated whether or not to use Ms. Broadwell’s real name. After all, at one point she was a member of the CIA’s Black Ops. It probably wouldn’t be much of a stretch to imagine that she could make me disappear if she wanted to. But then I remembered that I have this fierce guy standing guard:

Bring it, Broadwell.

Bring it, Broadwell.

So Ms. Broadwell, if you don’t like this post, if I’m saying something that’s not true,  do something about it. This fierce protector will be waiting for you and any of your CIA Black Ops goons. Bring it.



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