Now, many people call themselves runners. And by all means, it is a huge spectrum of people. But for some, it is more than just the way they get exercise. It is a way of life. I can't say that I fit into that category 100%, (it's closer to 99%) but for some, running is like eating. You can only go so long without it. Today's race made me realize just how insane some of us really are. (My guess is I will write that exact same sentence when I get home from the Polar Dash 10k on Jan. 1, brrrrrr....but I am getting ahead of myself.)
A few weeks back, my friend asked if I wanted to run the 10-mile Monster Dash with her. While the entry fee was almost enough to dissuade me (I think I paid $75) the gear alone was almost worth it. So I sucked it up and registered under the condition that we would run sporting some sort of costumes. After all, it is a costume run. (I wore a pumpkin hat and antennae, she wore devil horns.....so much for costumes but hey, it wasn't nothing!)
Anyway, my friend is a pretty solid 9- to 9:30-minute mile runner and we run together once every week or two assuming I only have one kid to push in a jogger. At any rate, she wanted to line up at the 10- minute pace and then play catch up. But as some of you know, I can be a wee bit, um, competitive. I argued we should line up at the 9-minute pace and assume we would do better given that it is an especially fast course. (Lots of downhill, woo hoo!)
We compromised and lined up near the 9:30 pacer. We were surrounded by all sorts of people dressed in all sorts of crazy costumes. It would be an easy place to sit and judge but rest assured, you can never tell what kind of runner someone might be by their costume. :)
Anyway, my goal was simply to run with my friend the ENTIRE RACE. After all, she was the one who invited me and it's always nice to have someone to chat with over long distances. That was my goal....but some of you know me and well, there is this little problem.
If you are not competitive then you may not fully understand the rest of the story.
Right before the race began, the espresso kicked in and I remembered why having given birth to 5 children put my bladder at a slight disadvantage in these things. But, there was no time to take care of that. The front runners left and we soon realized we were being held back in the second wave of runners (already this was just about enough to KILL ME! I mean, how can we catch up if we can't start when the race starts!) But then, the the rope fell and off we went.
So, I start chatting away, blah blah blah. My friend answers my questions briefly but for the most part just kept quiet. (Think of the old Spike and Chester cartoons, only, she's tiny.)
At first, it seemed like we were keeping a good pace and I felt like I could easily just stick with her and be happy. But as time went by, she started telling me she wasn't feeling great today. And then a woman in a wedding dress passed us.....oh, not the woman in the wedding dress?! Really?!
And then, it seemed like we were getting passed more and more frequently. And that's when the competitive devil inside started rearing its ugly HUGE head. Let me break here for a second and just say that it's not like I am ultra-competitive. (Stop laughing Kurt and friends.) I do realize that not everything in life is a competition. There is no prize to be won for taking the quickest shower, let's say, or having the most kids (although we've got a pretty good start on that one in many circles, don't ya think? Just kidding...) But, when it comes to athletics, well, I'll admit I might tend to be a wee bit over the edge.
So the rest of the run went something like this (insert voice in head):
"Oh wow, is that person wearing a banana costume? I bet that is hard to run in. But look at that?! She's passing us."
"Man, I didn't know dogs were allowed on this course....sucks to get passed by a dog. Argh! It passed us, too!"
"Wait, is that chick pregnant?"
And then the real kicker: "Hey look Karen, that guy looks like he must be around 80. Oh, and look, HE'S PASSING YOU! Good job there, kiddo."
So, we are passing mile 6 at this point and my friend stops for water. I started running backwards to keep an eye on her and that is when competitive self thinks, 'If I am running backwards and keeping up just fine, I probably need to just bolt.'
My friend catches back up (and I turn back around) and I tell her that at the 5k mark I plan on taking off to run my personal 5k time. She says that's great, she isn't feeling really well anyhow and feels bad for holding me back. And then, God bless her, she says, "Why don't you go on ahead now." We have about 3.5 miles left at this point. I half-apologize and then off I frantically go, trying to get ahead of all those people I *know* I should be able to beat.
Pretty soon, I have passed the old guy (phew), and another old guy (that admittedly I had to work a little harder to catch), the banana girl, the guy wearing the "running for beer" t-shirt (surely I can't let THAT guy beat me...or that one, or THAT one!), the wedding dress lady, the dog and its owner, the chick whose sign on her back read: "I'm slow, but you're still behind me!" (Eat my glitter, chickie!) And so on and so forth. Then, I overhear one of the pacers tell someone he has 9.3 miles on his watch (really, they make watches that give you distance?! Awesome!) and so I think, 'Well, shoot, I might as well keep running fast now, there's not even a mile left!' And then up ahead, I see another little girl (what, are you 12?) and then, oh no, an old(er) lady wearing a tutu and another older lady in a tutu and holy smokes, that guy is HUGE! HE. CAN. NOT. BEAT. ME! (I never said I was a PC runner....)
And by the end I was in a full out sprint trying to finish before one more person....and then another, and another.....because you know, what kind of race is it if you aren't trying to beat the people in front of you?! (Plus, they were giving out free beer at the end....and I still had to go potty....but whatever.)
For those of you who are not runners, no, I didn't win. That is the beauty of it. Unless you are an elite racer, there is ALWAYS someone ahead of you to chase down. You can ALWAYS do better. And I imagine, even the runners who win these things are thinking that they "could've done better if....." because that is how
After playing a serious round of chase at the end, I ran the ten miles in one hour and twenty-three minutes. Since it has been years since I did any real distance racing, that's a decent baseline going forward. (And by going forward I mean I'm already registered for a 5k, 10k, two half marathons and a full marathon for 2012....yes, yes I am....darn pre-race-running-expo offering discounted rates for the 5-race series!....hee hee hee.) What can I say? As my husband recently told me about hunting, I'm hooked! But then, I already knew that!