I am an age grouper, plain and simple. As a matter of fact I am the 3rd fasted runner in my age group in the area regardless of distance. How do I know this? Because I have come in 3rd in my age group in 15 out of 20 races. In two years I will move to 5th unless someone gets hurt. This is one of the things you learn as a regular on the local running tour.
You get to know every guy your age group that races regularly. You start to categorize them them into 3 categories:
- Guys I always beat.
- Guys I will never beat.
- Guys that it might beat, depending on how the day is going.
When you get to the race you take a look around and count them out. I usually know what place I'll come in before I even run. For races with good swag I pray that the category 2 runners have a little league game to go to so I can get the $2.75 trophy.
Birthdays are wonderful days. I am not talking about my birthday but the birthdays of the guys that are older and faster. There is nothing more rewarding than the fast 39 year old celebrating his 40th birthday. Instantly you become a contender. You didn't gain an ounce of speed yet you move up on the podium. You might say, what about the guys moving up into your age group? This is how I know you're new to the age group thing. I'm 38, the perfect age. The 30-35 category is competitive but only because of the low 30 guys. The 30-35 category is not as competitive as the 35-39 age group. Similarlly, the 40-45 age group is a lot faster than the 35-39 group. It's after 45 that things start to slow down.
Playing against this "graduation" play is Boston. It's the dream of the age grouper. They problem with this scenario is it is based on time. You only get extra time as you get older. I am training with the "just hold on" method. Sure I can get faster but why not just stay the same speed and get older? It's a much easier way of doing it right? You may not get faster but you always get older.