First: In races I will be considered a “master”. A master? Little ole me? I’d blush but technically that’s a downgrade as I’ve been referring to myself as Pope Awesome the First for ten years now. I think Master falls below Pope Awesome but just above Da Bomb on the Nitmos Scale of Superiority. But being a member of this exclusive “masters” club does have some privileges. For one, we usually have our own winner separate from the overall race winner (though sometimes it is one and the same person).
In other words, while you schmo’s are out there freezing your skinned nips off watching the race champ get his prize, we Masters will be sitting in a heated bungalow, enjoying the muscle relaxing massage techniques of a Swedish immigrant, beneath velvet blankets, listening to a hippie strum his guitar with soothing strokes while wearing our personally fitted nipple warmers, as the Master champ is coronated.
At least, that’s what I think happens. I guess I’ll find out for sure in four months.
Another benefit, of course, is the age graded time adjustments. You’ve probably seen them attached to some of your race results. Supposedly age-graded results:
1) Adjust your performance to what it theoretically would have been during your
prime running years (your 20's and a portion of your 30's depending on the race
2) Judge your performance, using an achievement percentile,
without bias for gender or the aging process (in other words, you are measured
against a specific standard for your age and sex). These percentiles can
be interpreted as follows:
· Over 90% --- World Class
· Over 80% --- National Class
· Over 70% --- Regional Class
· Over 60% --- Local Class
3) Compare your performances for a specific race distance at various ages
to determine which was your "best race".
For me, this always meant that the old dude I torched in the final mile would end up getting the last laugh as the age-graded adjustment leapfrogged him above me in the final standings. I hated that and I’d always regret not taking him out – permanently – on the way by so that it wouldn’t happen. I didn’t mind it – or notice it – when my own age-graded score moved me above others…that seemed only right. But moving me down?? Not fair.
Now, I’ll be able to stroll across the finish line a few minutes after my jack-rabbit twenty-five your friends with a triumphant smile and watch their sad little crestfallen faces as, later that day, I move above them in the age-graded results table (or, as I call them, the "only results that matter"). Boo-yeah! Suck on that, youthies!
Second: Another huge benefit of joining the Masters club is that I’ll finally be able to invest in those creepy way-too-short, old man side split running shorts. You know the kind…they ride up high on the side exposing the hip bone and pale, sunless skin (as well as the sun tan line about 5 inches south). They are really…unsavory. They scare kids and pets. I believe they are considered a sex crime in about 19 states currently. I want them. I’ve been waiting to get them until I became a Master. Now, off to expose my bleached white hips and cultivate the matching tuft of grayish chest hair billowing out the top of my singlet like rotting cauliflower.
Third: Qualifying times! Case in point: I just posted that I was going to get into the lottery for the New York Marathon. A few of you wise soles, er, wisely, pointed out to me that NY does have an automatic entry qualifying standard to bypass the lottery roulette. For a 39 year guy like me, I’d have to run a sub 1:23. Sorry, I’m too old and slow to meet that requirement any time soon. I just did a sub 1:28 a few months ago and that seemed like a lot of work.
However, for a 40 year old, I only have to break 1:30. Suddenly, I’m plenty fast enough to gain auto entry. Look at that, in four short months, I go from hopelessly slow to Pope Awesome fast. Boo-yeah! Suck on that, youthies! So, I really just have to keep training steady – don’t even need to get any faster - and I’m in like Flynn.*
Screw the lottery. I’ll just turn 40 instead! New York, here I come.
So you young whippersnappers can have your “overall” champs and your flexible joints and your thigh length shorts and long life spans. I’ve got my ticket in hand for the Masters club and all the aroma of Flexall, tales of lost dreams, and side split shorts and pasty thighs as far as the (non-cataracted) eye can see. Oh, and arthritis, don’t forget about that.
*It’s a historical phrase only us Masters would get.
Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends! (Happy Thursday to everyone else!)