2006-08-31 / News

Crim is no joke

Patrick Hayes phayes@gbview.net

Somehow last week, I became caught up in the hoopla of Crim festivities and decided that now was the time that, after many years of watching others from a distance, I become an active participant in one of the area’s signature events. Never mind that I had never run a competitive road race, had not run more than half a mile since high school and do not own a pair of proper running shoes. I was just there to have fun, and with all the grandeur surrounding the event, I was sure to be okay. After all, 10 miles does not seem that far when driving in my car.

Sadly, though, for someone whose athletic abilities and motivations are severely lacking, running the Crim becomes a progressively worse decision with each passing mile marker. Here is a rundown of the erosion of fun during my day at the Crim:

Pre Race: As I walk to the starting line, it seems nice to see the bricked streets of downtown Flint lined with so many people from around the state. Some even come from other states and countries for the event. A vibrant, bustling Flint is definitely a possibility one day, and this record-setting Crim was a nice preview of what could happen if competent people are ever in charge of the city.

As I near the starting line, I notice the Halo Burger has opened early. I was very hungry, but decide I don’t have enough time for a pre-race QP Combo. My stomach will thank me later. Fun Factor: still fairly high. The only drawback so far is the long distance away I had to park, which will not be a problem until after I claw my way through the 10-mile course.

Start: After finally finding a narrow passage onto Saginaw Street and locating my brother-in-law who is also running the race, we march up into the 8-minute pace section. Being a newcomer, I don’t see any problem with this. I mean, I once ran a mile in eight minutes as a sophomore in gym class, so I figure that is about what my pace should be now, 10 years and little physical activity later.

The race starts, and I feel pretty good. Thoughts of the sense of accomplishment I will have after finishing drift into my head, as I imagine returning triumphantly to the downtown area about 90 minutes later. Fun Factor: Still fun, but clusters of hairy shirtless men in close proximity and my brother-in-law speeding off right as we cross the line deliver first mild annoyances.

Middle Stages: I am getting passed left and right, but still breathing and having a good time watching all the onlookers. I laugh at the Kettering frat guys in front of their house and happily drink a beer and eat a Krispy Kreme with them at their checkpoint. It is all in good fun, right? That couldn’t possibly come back to haunt me.

As I near my own neighborhood and the three mile marker, I decide maybe it is time to walk for a bit. That is the plan. Walk a mile, and then pick up running again at mile four, just as I approach where my family is standing. They will never know.

The plan works, as I zoom past still looking strong. The next major hurdle, however, would not be so forgiving. As I get out of sight of my family and slow back down to a walk, the hills on Bradley Avenue begin making me regret the beer and donut stop. The hills prove too treacherous, and I slow to a snail’s pace. The good news is, if I manage to average 10-minute miles for the last three, I will still finish with a sub-2 hour time, which I consider not bad for a rookie. Fun Factor: Hovering dangerously low because of those mischievous frat guys and their peer pressure. The heavy basketball shoes I am running in and the fact that the bottoms of my socks have worn completely away is not helping, either.

Last Stages: The fun and encouraging onlookers have become extremely annoying. As runners, many of whom look as if they are going to keel over, climb the countless hills, those sitting comfortably on the sidewalks in lawn chairs find great humor in yelling, “Way to go, come on this is the last hill!” only to watch you look on in horror as you reach the top to find an even larger asphalt mountain awaiting.

Suddenly, everything becomes an object of my cynicism. Flint Mayor Don Williamson looks on, sitting comfortably in his obnoxious conversion van emblazoned with Mayor Williamson to the rescue on the side. I am sure I am not the only one to openly wonder, what, exactly he rescues. If he is such a hero, how about giving me a lift to the finish line?

Finally, after two hours, 25 minutes, three foot blisters and countless muttered expletives, I cross the finish and receive my medal. Fun Factor: Too tired for fun.

Afterwards: Although I was woefully unprepared for the race and contemplated begging someone for a phone to call for a ride home, the experience was rewarding. Even after seeing the results the next day and reading that I finished 312th out of 320 men in the 25-29 age group. Hopefully, people from all walks of life continue to come out, participate and cheer on those involved in this unique event.

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