This was originally posted on September 5, 2011, two years into my running renaissance:
|First Marathon: Marine Corps 2011|
For every time someone asks me if I won the race I just did, I should actually get a medal.
I won my age group in one race last year--I was the only one in the age group, but it was an accomplishment nonetheless!
I run at a pace that many very fit people can walk at. Some people might call it a jog but I specifically remember someone, it may be John "The Penguin" Bingham, saying something to the effect of "if it's not a walk, then it's running." I may be grossly oversimplifying what he did or didn't say, but I'm pretty sure he was confident that his own slow pace qualified as running.
I'm not always last, although I tend to be last when the number of participants is under say, a thousand. Yesterday, as I completed the Charm City 20 Miler with an amazing pace of 15:30 (I managed to pump out solid 13 minute miles the first 7 or 8 miles then slowed down MAJORLY after the 14-mile marker), I chatted with myself (internally, that is): I know I'm going to be last and that's OK! No it's not OK to be last. Didn't I pass that girl at mile 5? Did she pass me while I was in the port-a-potty? Really, it doesn't matter if I'm last-at least I'll have finished. I just hate having all those people at the finish waiting for my slow butt! That's what they're there for-for you, silly! But what are they thinking? This fat girl had better hurry, I wanna go home.
I was worried that there wouldn't be any FOOD left after the race. I have a friend (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) who is much faster than I am, so she gets to the finish, picks up a hot dog and Gatorade for me (brats and Zico, if it's a fancy race...), and waits and waits and waits for me. Good thing or I wouldn't get any of the post-race refreshments. At a 10K in Upstate New York last year (a pretty well-known Turkey Trot, that's all I'll say) I was dead last. So last in fact, that as soon as I stepped off the timing mat, they rolled it up, almost tripping me in the the process. And then I walked through the finisher's area. There were no oranges, bananas (except for the very, very green, not-edible-unless-they're-boiled ones), no potato chips, no Fig Newtons, no Nutri-Grain Bars, no anything, except for a couple of liters of Saratoga Springs water. I was so angry, I contemplated taking an entire case. Alas, my car was about a half mile away and it was cold as hell...
There are race organizers who WILL wait for you, however, no matter how long it takes (I know this from personal experience). The NJ Trail Series (www.njtrailseries.com) was founded and organized by Rick and Jennifer McNulty, a couple whose goal is to "make running fun again". The first time I went out for one of their events, I DNFed. It was a 10 mile trail run in 2 loops. It took me so long to do the first one that I quit half-way. I distinctly remember Rick asking me if I was going for the second loop-I may have looked at him as though he had three heads (AM I GOING TO DO ANOTHER LOOP SO YOU CAN WAIT ANOTHER HOUR AND FORTY FIVE MINUTES? HA!)-No, I think I'm done. We'll wait, whatever you decide, he said. Wow, I was tempted to do another loop, but the anxiety of having people wait for me in the woods, no less, was too much to bear, so I declined. But, I've learned that they really will wait! One particularly grueling 13.1, I was last by at least 20 minutes from the penultimate person, but they were still out there, watermelon, snacks and all! Thanks, NJ Trail Series- You have made running fun again. Race directors have a lot to learn from you!
So no, I have not won any races, and I don't expect to, EVER. But that's OK by me. I'm not in it to win it-sorry for the cliché but it's true. I have no desire or physical capacity to even try to win--I'm in it for the thrill, the workout, the friends, the running community. And if you don't quite understand, sign-up for a local 5K and see what I'm talking about. You'll get hooked, and you'll only care that you're out there.