Tag Archives: Kona Chocolate Run

The Hunger of the Masters

The latest issue of Running Times, which I happened to pick up after Saturday morning’s run, is focused on the masters runner – runners over 40. The editor-in-chief, in his editorial, says he’s been a runner for 36 years, and had just finished a run in 16-degree weather. Okay, I can identify; I’ve had several runs this winter at that temperature or less.

No, no, not that kind of Master. (Click to see a montage.)

No, no, not that kind of Master. (Click to see a montage.)

But then he devolved into a wistful, nostalgic look back to ancient history (the 1970s) where running was, apparently, the domain of misfits and outcasts. Their desire to be accepted by some group – any group – made them, according to the writer, desperate to do well, and to run hard and long. These days, apparently, there are too many runners who don’t train as hard, because, well, running has become cool. Here’s an (edited) excerpt:

Running was honest and pure, and it was ours. We ran hard and fast because that was who we were…until we woke up one day and discovered we were masters and running had become hot; celebrities got attention for doing it and groups of buff beautiful young people got together and hugged each other while doing it. The world…got fit and had fun, but few seemed hungry.

Well, excuse us. Warn us when you’re around, and we’ll move off the trail so you don’t have to see our buff, beautiful bodies.

I’ll grant him this – running has become more popular and mainstream. Races that used to consist mainly of the hardcore fringe, like ultramarathons and triathlons, are all the rage right now. The number of events has also multiplied, and many of them, like Color Runs and themed races like the Kona Chocolate Run are aimed more at having a good time than running a fast time.

Hmmm...maybe I should investigate this event further. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Hmmm…maybe I should investigate this event further. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Well, so what? Do we need some kind of chip on our shoulder to join the cult of “real runners”? Can we be permitted to enjoy running without a need to prove something? Oh, and just because we’re not gasping our lungs out on every run, don’t assume we’re not out to improve ourselves. I have goals, and target times to reach for. That’s one reason why I’m out there on cold mornings like he is.

I’m guessing that his real regret, as he alludes to later, is the loss of his feeling of “quiet superiority based on hard-earned fitness.”  And perhaps the boast of, “I ran a marathon” doesn’t mean what it used to, with more people running them and the average finish times getting slower. But there’s a benefit, too. With running so popular, the science of running has advanced. Today we know far more about form, proper training, and nutrition that we did forty years ago, allowing us to run with more enjoyment and fewer injuries. I’ll take that over being elitist any day.

And how has our intrepid editor dealt with all this? Not to worry. As for us, we keep running. Some continue to burn with the blue flame.

My blood - is flame! I must kill you and have sex! (Click to see the famous fight scene.)

My blood – is flame! I must kill you and have sex! (Click to see the famous fight scene.)

Well, go right ahead, my friend. You run for your reasons, and I will run for mine, and let’s allow everyone else to run for theirs and not worry about whether they are as “hungry” as us.

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P.S. Doesn’t “masters runner” sound a whole lot better than, “older runner,” or, heaven forbid, “senior runner”? Why don’t we apply that term more universally. For example, how could I be put out by being asked if I want the “master’s discount” instead of the “senior discount”? And I’ll bet the AARP would see a big spike in membership if it renamed itself the American Association of Masters.

Kona Run Recap: Cocoa Power

An event that combines running and chocolate? Sounds darn near perfect to me. No way I was going to miss Sunday’s inaugural Kona Chocolate Run in Plymouth. And it was over 60 degrees at race time. T-shirts and shorts in late November! Who cares if it rained a little?

Awww...

Awww…

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The final turnout was over 6,000 runners – an amazing turnout for a first-time local race. That’s what the word “chocolate” can do for you. And contrary to the “chocolate event = all women” stereotype, some men ran it, too. I think I saw both of them around mile 4.

The youth turnout was pretty good, too, although I’m not sure that all of them were enthusiastic about being there.
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Theresa and MeAs usual for the Kona races I was a 52:00 pacer for the 10K, and one of my regular pacing partners, Theresa (shown here) carried the sign while I took pictures. And as usual, we had fun bickering about whether we were on pace or not. Complicating things was no chip timing – everyone’s time was measured from the gun. Since we started back in the pack, our on-time pace meant we actually crossed the finish line around 52:30. Bummer for those who wanted to get a PR but didn’t line up near the start!

After the 10K I returned to the pacing area, to find out they needed someone to carry the “1st time” sign for the 5K. “When does it start?” I asked, only to hear the Star Spangled Banner being sung for it. So straight back to the starting area I went. So much for a cup of hot chocolate between events. And while we waited for the horn, it rained on us. Ah, such is the life of a volunteer.

Brave ladies, in more ways than one.

What would you do for chocolate?

The 5K was a challenge for me. Most of the “first 5K” folks ran pretty slowly or did a run/walk combination, and my legs kept begging me to step it up. But I talked to some nice people and got their pictures. One couple had taken up running due to their daughter, which is similar to how I started regular running. I assured them there was plenty of room for improvement, and that if they kept at it, they would really come to enjoy running. Eventually. (I didn’t tell them it took me about three years.)

Good stuff, if you can get to it.

Good stuff, if you can get to it.

I crossed the finish line a second time, and my job was done. Time for chocolate! Except the line into the tent o’ goodies was about a 5K long. (Did I mention that they had over 6,000 runners there?) Given that chocolate was involved, I’m amazed there wasn’t a tent-flattening stampede. Just goes to show you, runners really are a well-mannered breed.

I headed down the street to Espresso Elevado and got a mocha and chocolate chip biscotti. Several other runners were also there getting hot chocolate, heartily agreeing that it was worth a few bucks to avoid the line. And an actual restroom sure beats a porta-potty. So no complaints. Looking forward to next year – where I just might have to make myself invisible after the first race.

Oh, and how about this? According to the race results, Eric Stuber, age 50, finished the 10K in 35:25 (a 5:43 per mile pace). Not only did he win his age group, he finished first overall. That’s right – a 50-year-old won the 10K. Such is the power of chocolate.

I have a tempo run tomorrow. Hope these are enough.

I have a tempo run tomorrow. Hope these are enough.