Before I'd taken 10 steps in the 10k, I knew I was in trouble.
This was it, the big rematch with my arch-rival and friend Bob from the Y. I'd won the first round, and had to defend my honor over the course of 6.4 long miles in the second. Like before, though, I didn't really expect to beat Bob. Could our first race have been nothing more than a fluke?
We were about to find out.
The gun sounded to start the race ... I took one step ... and felt my brand-new compression shorts shift. I took another, and they started to shimmy downward. Another few steps, and those suckers were in an all-out southbound retreat. By the time I made it out of the parking lot which marked the earliest stages of the event, the shorts were completely to my knees.
How did it happen? I don't know, and didn't particularly care at that point. All I knew was that I was suddenly ... and there ain't no other way to put it ... going commando. I had a decision to make. Bob was a few yards ahead of me, and I couldn't let him gain too much ground on me. I was going to keep running, compression shorts or no compression shorts.
It was at about that point, however, that I saw a police officer directing runners at the first turn. He was laughing ... and he was laughing at me.
But why? I looked down and it dawned on me what I was wearing. My running shorts were made of sheer fabric, cool, lightweight ... and in the right light ... almost completely see through. And with my compression shorts down around my knees ... awwwwwwwwww, man ...
I was determined not to stop. If you can picture this, I ran/waddled/stumbled/shuffled maybe twenty yards with both arms reaching inside my running shorts and down to my compression drawers, desperately trying to tug the blamed things back up.
It didn't work.
Finally, I stopped at some bushes on the side of the road. I threw the gloves and hydration belt I was wearing to the ground, reached back inside my running shorts down to the compressions and pulled them back up to where they were supposed to be. I threw my belt back on and took off, putting my gloves on as I ran.
And as I did so, the compression shorts fell right back down again. !@#$%^&^%$#@!
Maybe a mile into the race, and it was all over. Bob was gone. Bob was history. Bob, by this point I was sure, was already back at the finish line waiting on me. I was never going to hear the end of it, and it was all because of these forsaken shorts.
A patrol car from the local sheriff's department was up ahead. I had no choice. I had to stop again. As other runners made the turn, I went straight to the car. They asked if I was okay, and physically, I was. Mentally? That was another matter entirely. I was ticked, and I was ticked big time.
I ran behind the car and again tore off my gloves and hydration belt. This time, though, there was no awkward reaching down under my running shorts to get to my underwear. Nope. This time, I dropped 'em altogether entirely ... and in the process mooned Rural Hall, North Carolina. At that point, I just didn't care.
I took hold of the compression shorts and gave them a monstrous yank. I pulled them up very nearly to my chest, and in so doing gave myself the mother of all wedgies. Back up came my running shorts. Back on went my hydration belt and gloves. Why, I didn't know. The race with Bob was over, and I had to consider my options. I could quit then and there, or keep going.
By that point, I was so angry that I was all but in tears. Bob was nowhere to be seen, and neither were very many other people in the race, for that matter. The only ones around were a couple of ladies walking, one of them pushing a baby stroller. Forget about not beating Bob. I wasn't going to beat anybody.
I took off, up three small hills within the next mile or so. After that, the course was as flat as anything I've ever run before. I saw a runner I thought might possibly be Bob, but the figure was so far away, I couldn't be sure. As the course doubled back on itself, I began to meet runners heading in the opposite direction.
At last, he was there. He was probably a little more than a half mile ahead of me, with about three miles remaining. I was never going to catch him, ever. But still ... I picked up my pace.
Once I made the turnaround myself, I could see who I thought to be Bob. I wasn't completely sure it was him, but still ... I picked up my pace a little more. Bob came into focus. As soon as I was certain ... I picked up my pace a little more still.
Four and a half miles in, two miles to go. Pick it up.
Five miles in, a mile and a half or so left. Pick it up. I can see Bob. It's him. It's definitely him.
Five and a half miles in, a mile left, and I was at as close to a sprint as I could've possibly been after running that far. I'm gaining, but I'm not going to catch him. But still ...
Bob turned back into the parking where all this had started. I was a hundred yards back. Bob crossed the finish line, and then so did I. I finished in an hour and five minutes, my best ever time in a 10k by far. Jeanie made the comment that if it hadn't been for my problem at the beginning of the race, I would've made it in less than an hour.
That's not necessarily the case. If it hadn't been for those problems and trying to catch back up to Bob, there's absolutely no way I would've ever pushed myself that hard. Bob beat me by several seconds, fair and square. No excuses.
Except maybe for ...