I am "comped" for Saturday's Fall City 10k.
This suggests that the race directors expect me to be a somewhat "elite" runner (my entry code is ELITE2014), and I feel an obligation to run the race with a bit of intensity.
But I don't start the race with particular intensity. My first mile split is 5:55 which is a slower than I expected, and I find myself in 7th place.
It is a flat scenic course with long straight stretches of roads through farmland, and the morning sun is rising over the Cascades and burning through the patches of low fog clinging to the Snoqualmie Valley. I tell myself I feel strong and somehow my body believes me. I pick up the pace and catch up with two 20-something guys and a spectator yells out that it is a battle for 3rd place. My 5th mile is even faster and I mange to drop the two young guys. My 6th mile is my fastest mile of all at 5:43 and I cross the finish line in 3rd place.
The 3rd place finish means I am on the podium for top overall finishers which I have to assume is worthy of being comped. The 3rd place overall finish also means that I am not eligible for podium in my ancient age-group class. I had met these old guys in my age-group before the race and I wander over to congratulate them. They were eager to tell me how they battled each other and how triumphant they felt. One of the guys, unaware of my age, asks me how I did and what age division I am in. I can't help but feel an overwhelming sense of superiority, but am reluctant to even admit I am in their division (especially as I immediately think about the caliber of the Seattle CNW master's cross country team).
My time of 36:50 is a bit disappointing - it seemed so much faster. But then for me at this point I try to subscribe more to the yoga philosophy of racing - the results don't really matter, it is all about the experience.