By Sal Citarella
When I was younger, I was to be feared as an FRB—that’s a Front Running Bastid.
As time went by, I became an AGW—Age Group Winner.
But when I recently had my 77th birthday, the door just smacked me in the butt! Nothing felt right, so I fell back on RFM—Relentless Forward Motion. The technique that gets ultra runners through the long, lonely miles. I feared becoming a TEC—Tail End Charley.
When I felt I was ready to accept that I was no longer, in fact, what I still felt I was in memory, I entered my traditional July 4th race. It’s a very scenic, hilly road race through Sonoma County, famous for its wine and more recently, for its forest fires.
I had won my age group the last two years and while I didn’t expect to run a good time, still in my envious little heart of hearts, I lusted. My 1:18:41 was a nice surprise and I would have won again except for a GAR (Grade A Ringer) from the club to the south of me, who showed up and at age 79, ran sub-60!! I couldn’t even get a bottle of wine for my effort.
But I was satisfied. I had run smart and enjoyed the day. So it led me to try another race.
I searched around and found what I was looking for, a trail race with rather “pedestrian” times and, maybe, no one over 70. Either the course was a little above the norm or the runners were a little below. It was in a regional park on the NE side of San Francisco Bay and the staging area couldn’t even be found by GPS. Just long, winding roads through ranch lands that had few real addresses. However, being old and low tech, I found it by map.
The course was neither easy nor the worst I’ve seen, lots of hard-baked soil and cow poop with a jump down and out of a stream crossing at the end. We don’t usually have water in our streams this late in the year. I persevered and plugged along, chatting with those around me and finished with a flurry.
Winning time was 41:36 with 2nd place, three minutes back.
70/74 age group: 1:09:02 (but he was only 70!)
75/79 age group: 1:39:55 (me). I was 173 of 212 but it got worse, quickly.
Am I going to do it again? DPF—do pigs fly?