Nine months ago, on the hottest day of July, at 2:47pm, I ran a 6:09 mile. I had not run a mile at any reasonably respectable speed since the fall of 1993, when I ran a 5 minute mile on the tarmac at Goodfellow AFB. Back then I was single, weighed 160 pounds, and had yet to discover alcohol, sushi, second breakfast, and a great many other vices that can impede performance.
Anyway, I would not have run nearly that fast last July had I not had a compelling incentive; there were 11 members of the Mexican Mafia of Marion at the track, ready to enforce the outcome of the event. You see, I was racing against one of their own. El Conejo was 22 and very eager. I suspect he had never had the straight-up opportunity to beat a white man at anything. He drank a contraband energy drink before the race and was bouncing around the track. I was stretching and drinking water.
If I won, which they all deemed highly unlikely, then a friend of mine who had gotten himself into debt with the MMM (and had no easy way to repay), would be released from their grip. If I lost, then this friend of mine would become the, how shall I say this, the ‘servant’ of the MMM. It was imperative I win, and so I had skipped my normal morning weight-lifting and scheduled the run at the hottest time of the day. You see, although El Conejo was much younger than I and undoubtedly quicker, I had regularly been running two or three miles a day in the heat. Although I was running slowly, I thought for sure the endurance I’d built up would count for something. El Canejo would steal a chicken from the kitchen and run to the dorms, or outrun virtually any throw to first on the softball field, but otherwise, he engaged in no physical activity I could observe. He also smoked. I thought I had a decent chance. Besides, my friend had nothing to lose and due to his credit rating, no other hope. His confidence in my performance was such that he didn’t even show up to watch.
There was one white man there as a witness, a politician, and runner himself, whom I had befriended. I later learned he had bet heavily on me, but he was the only one there who did. Although by the final lap there was a decent crowd of non-Mexicans there, at the beginning we were lonely, and it looked bad.
At the signal, we began, he in a full out sprint. I ran the fastest pace I thought I could maintain for four laps. He finished the first lap 100 yards in front of me and his gang taunted me. At the end of the second lap, I had caught him and a growing group of white guys were cheering. At the end of the third lap, he was 10 yards behind me and I knew he was finished. I was gradually increasing my speed and he was breathing very heavily and coughing. I gave it everything I had that last lap and crossed the line at just over 6 minutes. He collapsed well short of the finish line about 30 seconds later. When I left 10 minutes later he was still on the ground, motionless. The MMM released the debt as agreed. I was a little sore the next day; El Canejo never got out of bed.
The almost-six-minute mile was an anomaly. My average three mile time, until four months ago, was about 24 minutes. Nothing to be proud of unless you’re 38, white, high-mileage and have lost 100 pounds. I had put a lot of work and more than a decade into that weight. Shedding it required more work.
Regrettably, over the last four months I’ve not been able to maintain the same hour a day lifting weights and 3 mile a day routine that I had come to enjoy. It’s caught up to me. My three mile time, shown below, has slipped by four minutes and my pants have shrunk. At this rate, by Christmas I’ll have trouble walking to the kitchen and back between meals without having to pause to catch my breath and I’ll be back to shopping at Nashville Tent and Awning for clothes.
My goal is to raise money for the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Gallatin by running in their 5k in July. This is a more noble goal than simply running to lose weight. There may even be an indulgence attached to it, although I haven’t found a direct mention of it in the Raccolta and Father hasn’t returned my phone call about it. SVDP does great work helping out truly needy families who are facing emergencies. I’d like to win my weight class, at least. It would be nice if I could place highly in the Over 35 and Under 40 Sedentary Male category. If I could finish in sight of the soccer moms who do Pilates, yoga, cross fit and P90X between visits to get hair, nails and skin done, that’d be even better. Regardless, I’m posting this as a sort of universal accountability measure. I’m sure you’ve heard of UAM before. Now that I’ve put this out there, I’m much more likely to stick with my running plan. Stay tuned.