'There was no way I was losing to a clown' in the Carnegie VFD 5K
“What the heck am I doing here?”
That was the thought that crossed my mind as I stood behind a man wearing what looked like a decade-old Valley High School track uniform Saturday morning at the starting line for the sixth annual Carnegie Volunteer Fire Department 5K Run/Walk.
The thought came again when I saw Sleepy, a blue-wigged, blue-robed clown wearing SpongeBob SquarePants boxer shorts and carrying an old-fashioned bicycle horn.
Actually, the thought really had nothing to do with Carnegie's 5K. It's the same one I have every time I prepare to run a competitive race. If I had a million dollars, I'd wager that I'll have the same thought before the start of the half marathon in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
I'm a runner, you see — and we runners like to punish ourselves through competition, whether we're competing against others or the clock. And this was just my latest venture.
About two months ago, before I moved from covering news for the Signal Item to covering sports for three different publications in the Trib Total Media family, I promised Carnegie police Chief Jeff Harbin I would run in the 5K — his final one as race director. A month after that, I foolishly told him I was going to win — knowing all the time that I stood no chance of actually doing so.
Fast-forward to minutes before 8 a.m. Saturday. With the starting line staring me right in my face, I decided on my ultimate goals for the race. They were pretty simple.
One, I wanted to set a new personal best.
Two, I wanted to beat Sleepy. No offense to all you clowns and clown enthusiasts out there, but there was no way I was losing to a clown.
So when a fire engine blared to start the race, I pushed myself harder than I've ever done during a race — and my body almost immediately began to protest.
I began to feel the dreaded stitch in my side at about the 1-mile mark, as I ran through downtown Carnegie. As I approached the Y-Not Saloon, with the turnaround off in the distance down Main Street, the leaders passed me on their way back to the municipal building.
So much for winning.
But I kept pushing myself, hearing the disembodied voice of my smartphone's running app tell me I was on pace to smash my record.
The second half of the race sent me through downtown Carnegie again and toward the municipal building via West Main Street. We ran up Cubbage Street to Veterans Way, then into the busway parking lot.
Much as I tried, I couldn't catch the 16-year-old in front of me. But I still managed to cross the finish line in 20:56, more than three minutes better than my previous record. Still feeling the pain in my side, I put my hands on my knees and tried not to throw up.
Plenty of people crossed the finish line after me — men, women, children, dogs — and many of them with much more stamina than I'd had.
As always, it was great to see people cheering runners on as they neared the finish line. That's my favorite part about running — we're all in it together.
I ended up getting third place in my age division for my time. But I seriously treasure the experience more than the medal I received.
And, hey — I didn't win the race, but I beat Sleepy. That's not too shabby.
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New digital media center debuts at Chartiers Valley
- Architect says South Fayette district is ready for next step in school expansion
- Carnegie library brings Broadway flair to fundraiser
- South Fayette Giant Eagle open for business