In the Cooper household -- dwindling in numbers as it is -- our Labor Day tradition is running the Mississippi Valley Running Association's annual Benefit Classic.
The event features competitions at two distances, 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) and a half-marathon (13.1 miles). My record of never attempting the longer distance (including the killer hill of Eagle Point Park) remains unblemished.
After missing 4-5 months of running in late 2006 and early 2007 due to knee problems, my two goals for 2007 were a) be able to resume training, and b) be competitive on Labor Day 2007.
Anyway, to make an uninteresting story short, I met the first goal. Regular training began in early spring. And though I failed to defend my age-group title, I managed to finish second despite running nearly a full minute slower than a year ago and 15 seconds slower than two years ago.
Yes, Father Time continues to catch up. I remember, 35 years ago, when I would run faster than I did today during warm-ups before track practice. But in competition now, I feel as if I'm working every bit as hard as I did in high school. It's just that advanced years bring on cases of the Slows.
(PS: For those keeping score from afar, the other member of the household, who prefers anonymity here, placed third in his/her age group.)