– David Bowie
ATLANTA — About halfway through this year’s 10-kilometer Peachtree Road Race, I came to the sad realization that I was not going to win.
I blamed what I call “vertical gravity.” It’s that feeling you get when you run forward but seem to make little progress, almost like there’s a wall. Sometimes it even results in the more common “horizontal gravity,” which has you on your back, looking up and wondering what just happened.
The feeling hit sooner this year than in years past, despite encouragement from some of the quarter-million standing along the running route.
Many held signs saying, “You can do!” or “Catch that Kenyan!” – a reference to the race’s frequent victor.
Such entreaties were apparently for someone far ahead of me, however, and frequent glances at my sports watch indicated the trophy would go elsewhere.
Yeah, sure, I could rationalize that I was doing pretty well for a man in his 60s.
I could congratulate myself on never stopping to walk, even on Atlanta’s all-too-frequent steep hills.
And I could say by running so slowly I was giving everyone a chance to read my Joseph M. Still Burn Center T-shirt, whose efforts I was celebrating for this year’s race.
But I did not go to the school where you got an “A” for effort.
No, this disappointing morning needed some sort of achievement, so I decided to do something different. Something I’ve never done in the middle of any athletic participation. I quit being a competitor and went back to being a reporter.
I pulled out my smartphone and began shooting video from the middle of the race – somewhere between kilometer 7 and 8.
There’s probably a reason you don’t see this that often.
In fact, I’ve never seen any video taken from the middle of the Atlanta race by a person in it, although I assume it’s been done.
It just wasn’t easy.
The fact that you’re running is sort of a distraction.
So is the sweat in your eyes. So is the fact that those same eyes usually wear glasses to read tiny smartphone settings, and those glasses were back in the car.
But, I fumbled and focused, both squinted and sprinted, and I captured about four seconds of mild, mid-race drama along a straightaway with background music provided by one of the many bands that lined the route.
Four seconds doesn’t seem like much, but it was a lot better than the 24 seconds I took of my feet while I thought I was pointing my phone horizontally instead of vertically.
I finally quit filming because other runners were having to dodge my slower pace.
But I did try one last reporting effort.
Just as I crossed the finish line, I again pulled my phone out of my pocket and took one of those self-portrait “selfies” that showed me less than heroically sweat-soaked and gasping for air with the finish line and several thousand runners behind me.
They didn’t win, either, I guess.