I admit it.
I’ve got that macho thing where you don’t like another guy upstaging you when it comes to physical activity.
It is really absurd if you think about it.
I’m a natural klutz. I’m almost literally half the man I was 34 years ago when I carried 320 pounds on my 5-foot-11 frame. I also have severe bunions and hammertoes on both feet that make most doctors wince when they see them. Let’s not forget the fact that at age 63 I’m not exactly a spring chicken.
And most of the time when I decide I’ve got to push myself harder so no one shows me up the guy is in his early 20s or basically a third my age.
Most of the time I can avoid the urge to assert whatever I’m asserting when I guess what could be called my pride is being challenged it is in a group exercise class at either In Shape or Cal Fitness or when I’m jogging.
I let this happen even though long ago I’ve come to grips with the fact I don’t have the body type to have even a one-pack, I’ll never run a sub 6-minute mile, God obviously never intended me to do a pull-up, and the odds of me bench pressing my body weight is more ludicrous than believing the NFL will invite Roseanne Barr and Colin Kaepernick to sing the national anthem as a duet at an upcoming Super Bowl.
Long time ago I decided if I stay around 170 pounds and have decent blood pressure and heart numbers along with good health screening numbers that I should consider myself a success.
So you would think after having my blood pressure come in at 102 over 60 with a resting heart rate of 52 before I was cleared to give platelets Friday at the Red Cross donation center on March Lane in Stockton I would be able to resist the temptation to “prove myself.” Fat chance.
Less than 18 hours later when I went for a nice brisk jog on Saturday morning I was passed by a lanky runner who clearly was barely out of puberty as I headed down the Wellington Avenue bike path. Making matters worse there was a city radar trailer ahead of me. It had zeroed in on my body heat I was posting a reading that wavered between 5 and 6 mph but was mostly showing the number 5. The number suddenly started going up and it wasn’t to 25 mph plus signaling a car was approaching. Instead it was a teen boy coming up behind me pushing the number to the 7-8 range. I had no idea the gender or age at that point. My reptilian instinct was to break my cardinal rule and pick up my pace.
As the kid passed me, I stopped acting stupid. I was easily four times older and 40 pounds heavier than the kid. I wasn’t on a training run but was jogging to stay healthy. I clearly can get the heart pounding to the point I can score a 52 resting heart rate. Even so it always takes me telling myself that there was a point in my life people would have rolled over laughing if I ever said I could push a 6 mph pace jogging and that when most people see my bunions and hammertoes that I don’t like to be seen they can’t understand how I can walk let alone jog, bicycle in tight cycling cleats or jump around like a madman.
On Saturday I started to pick up the pace but after 15 seconds I got my primal guy urge regarding pride in check and continued on my way.
I’m sure the teen on Saturday wasn’t trying to stroke his ego by passing me. It’s no different that the unfortunate times in the fall I happen to hit segments of the Manteca cross country team’s route when they and I were out running at the same time. Needless to say they had no problem passing me up.
That said I’ve had more than a few times when I’ve passed people up without changing my pace that it prompted them to kick it into high gear.
Once it was a younger woman who obviously was fit and looked like a serious runner who was jogging with a small dog on the same Wellington Avenue route I was on Saturday. About 30 seconds later she passed me partially dragging her poor dog.
The other two times involved guys.
One was a guy I found out later that was 10 years younger than me.
I was jogging down the shoulder along Austin Road heading toward Louise Avenue to head back into Manteca. Without changing my pace I passed a guy ahead of me who definitely had a pouch who was wearing headphones covering both ears.
I bring up the headphones only because I believe if you are jogging, walking, bicycling or even walking with headphones on that you have a death wish. I want to hear what is barreling down on me whether it is a car or a viscous dog.
At any rate about a minute or so later he passes me up. I resist kicking it up as years ago I stopped doing my weak version of speed work increasing my pace for five minutes then dropping to my normal pace for five minutes and repeating it over and over again on an hour “run”. It wasn’t fun plus I reminded myself I wasn’t hitting the streets to be a runner but to stay healthy.
I did catch up with him after I turned onto Louise Avenue a few minutes later. He had stopped and had apparently thrown up.
The other time was prior to the start of the football season four years ago in late July when I passed a teen who played as a defense back on a Manteca High football team. Without changing my pace I passed him on Woodward Avenue just before Pillsbury Road. Several minutes later he overtook me as I was crossing Atherton Drive. I didn’t think he was trying to prove anything believing he was simply doing speed work and had slowed down when I passed him. That changed after he turned onto Moffat Boulevard and looked back to see if I was behind him. I caught up with him just before Industrial Park Drive where he had stopped and was doubled over.
There was no doubt he was in much better shape than me. I assumed he had just start getting back to running as most high school football players I know will hit the weights in the offseason but don’t really invest a lot of time in running. At that age they can get away with it by getting their lung capacity up in just a few weeks.
What made me realize there is different fitness levels was back when I was 30. I had just started bicycling daily three months ago and was destined to log my first of three consecutive years of 10,000 plus miles of annual pedaling in racing bicycles.
I was struggling somewhat going up an easy short hill in the Loomis Basin in Placer County midway through a 45-mile ride when I was passed by an older, overweight guy on a mountain bike. I weighed 190 pounds at the time — 20 pounds more than I do now — and I was under the false impression I was lean and mean.
When he got to the top of the hill, he stopped and got off his bike. I thought to myself he must of “killed” himself passing me up the hill. But as I got closer my ego dropped to the pavement. He had reached into his saddlebag and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. As I crested the hill he was taking his first drag on the cigarette.
That definitely was the moment I realized the standard I need to worry about was me and not somebody else.