This is 2022, I think, and we are competing in the – I think what would have been the 2021 National Senior Games, that will butt right up on the qualifying 2022 State Games for the 2023 National Games. Stay with me here because in a year or so if we can keep COVID at bay, the two-year cycle will be back in sync.
And, at any rate, we are here in Fort Lauderdale, Florida having a great time competing in a variety of sports. We being athletes 50 years and older from all over the nation.
Early last week, I went straight from my flight to check in at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center to pick up credentials as my first event, the 5K, was scheduled for a 7 a.m. start the following morning.
At the hotel pre-dawn and preparing to go to the race site, I ran across another runner, Colleen from Massachusetts, who was also planning to take an Uber to the 5K. We made an instant decision to share the ride. This became a pattern since the events for the week were spread out over a large geographic area.
On to the 5K which was held in Hollywood (not that Hollywood), a beachside community with the feel of a boardwalk but with a bike path between the condos, shops and the ocean. This was to be our course, a flat out-and-back. The weather was comfortable by Florida standards.
There was enough time to get in a mile or two warmup as the sun came up at the Hollywood Beach Quadoman.
As is the case with most park-like courses, we shared the route with the occasional dog walker and cyclist. The ocean view was wonderful on the way out. I’m sure it was on the way back as well, but at that point I was looking straight ahead and trying to maintain my pace.
A couple I met, Glenn and Claudia from New Jersey, another Uber ridesharing meeting, discovered that Claudia was passing me at the finish line as evidenced by his video.
The plaza where we waited for results and awards was well-shaded and landscaped with plenty of outdoor seating area. I learned when checking results that I had placed second out of 11 in my age group (W75-79) with a time of 29:33, the first time on the podium for me at senior games (I’ve run at three senior games in the past). Yoko Eichel, a talented runner who is frequently included in top masters listings, placed an even minute ahead of me with a time of 28:33.
Am I getting better as I get older or have I simply outlasted the competition? Either way, I’ll take it – and I prefer a race with a sizable number of women in my age group for healthy competition as well. Overall, there were 319 finishers, ranging from 51 to 90 years of age.
Then, there was time for socializing among running competitors from all over the country, most of whom we don’t see except at other occasional regional or national races. I’ll talk about some of those interesting and amazing athletes in a later post.
That wraps up my first event, the 5K. Next up – stay tuned to read about the grueling 10K.