Friday, May 27, 2016

Slow And Steady Does NOT Win The Race

Flashback Friday
This was originally posted on September 5, 2011, two years into my running renaissance:

First Marathon: Marine Corps 2011
I'm all about being positive in general (actually, most of my friends would probably disagree heartily), but the old adage "slow and steady wins the race" just ain't true. For me, that is.

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.

30 comments:

  1. Awesome article! I started running again at age 41 and, at first, couldn't run 1/2 mile without stopping to walk. I'm 43 now, have completed three half-marathons, just finished my first 20-mile training run today, and am registered for the Marine Corps Marathon in October! Whenever I look at the results of a race and see all the people's names in front of mine, I just remind myself of all the people whose names will never even be on that list. God bless you and happy running!

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  2. Wow! You're doing MCM???? Me too! That's what I'm training for currently. Isn't running the best? Thanks for your comment!

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  3. LOVE it. I'm so tired of people calling us slower runners and Galloway runners "walkers." I'll be doing MCM also and am just hoping to "beat the bridge" and finish before they pick me up and drive my to the finish, lol. You go, girl!

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  4. Thanks to everyone for your feedback. I too am really nervous about beating the bridge. Let's make sure we do it!

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  5. Wow what a great article! You are fantastic and have such a positive and inspiring view on running. I started running at 40 and I am a determined middle of the pack runner. I lose my focus sometimes but your article reminded me to enjoy every run. Does't matter when you finish only that you are out there doing it. I also love the NJ Trail Series Runs, great people.

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  6. I just saw this comment. Thanks so much for your positive feedback-it's much appreciated!

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  7. found your blog via this post. awesome. needed this. thanks.

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  8. You are amazing, and I am inspired. Keep running!

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  9. that you so much for writing this - I often feel alone at the back of the pack, and it's amazing to hear your experiences. I'm in the process of being told that "maybe you should go back to walking for awhile until you lose some weight...then come back to running" as I've been dealing with some hip pain after long runs. I've lost a significant amount of weight after taking up running last summer, and I've never felt more discouraged than after a health care provider basically suggested I'm too fat to run. I hope you're still running happy!

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  10. Oh, thank you so much for saying this. I've gotten to aid stations that have *nothing* left with an hour of running left to go in my race at my pace, and being dehydrated only makes me slower. It's no fun to sign up for those.

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  11. Well, definitely makes me feel better about my stellar last place finish last week. I wasn't offered any snacks and was pretty peeved that the sentiment was "ok great! we can all go home now!". I will definitely look into the NJ Trail folks. With that being said, experiencing "being last" made me had a much greater appreciation for just getting out there any doing it in the first place while the rest of the world was in bed, hungover from Friday night happy hour.

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    1. There are so many people that can't do what we're doing--nice to be reflective of that and not let it get to us that sometimes we're last! As least we did it!

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  12. I can't stand it when there is no food/drink left for us at the back! So frustrating. But it does make me appreciate those who do it well even more. I do find myself searching the year before's race results to check near my times to see where I'll fall in the pack when I sign up for new races, though.

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    1. I just bring my own stuff now. I can't take any chances!

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  13. Omigosh, I've been last a couple of times in races. One was a 10K trail run--I had to try it because I've never run trails before. The guys marking the trail were unbelievably sweet even after I told them sorry for going so slow. But when I got back there was nothing--and I mean nothing, not even water around. The second time was much better and even last there were tons of bagels and water--they even wanted me to take a sheet of them home, LOL. some you win, some you lose. Gotta keep running, tho.

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    1. So true--we've just got to keep doing our thing!

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  14. You are so awesome Mirna! Such a positive role model with such a great attitude about racing and running!!!

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    1. Thanks Skirt Sister! Gotta keep it enjoyable and mostly fun!

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    2. Thanks Skirt Sister! Gotta keep it enjoyable and mostly fun!

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    3. Great article. We are at opposite ends of the spectrum, I sometimes win races, but running should be for everyone. I work on the premise that first or last, we have all put in the same effort, and I will always wait to cheer in that runner, whoever they are. Keep up the good work inspiring people!

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  15. Just discovered your blog, thanks for inspiring me!

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  16. This was a really encouraging post. I'd say I'm a middle of the pack runner, but in my running club I'm pretty much the slowest. I have to really work (mentally) on just doing my best and not caring that the others are all faster than me (and are enjoying their post-training refreshments while I am still completing my laps of the running track...) I also find it kind of hard that in my heart of hearts I would really like to be on the podium, but I doubt I will ever improve enough for that to happen. Like you I truly love running just for the act of running itself, but it is hard to not get caught up with pace and personal bests.

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    1. Thanks! I get it. Sometimes you do get caught up in what pace everyone else is running. But then I think, BUT I'M RUNNING and LOVING LIFE and that makes things better, that is, unless people are being jerks. And that's when I run alone. Do you!

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  17. Thanks for your comment. I'm very lucky that the runners and the coaches in my club are really nice and supportive, and think that effort and commitment are the most important qualities. They've never made me feel less for being one of the slowest in the group. I just got a personal best in a 10km race, even though I was the slowest of our group, and our coach said "I was an inspiration: determined, consistent and serious, all the qualities needed to succeed in running" I was so touched and realized that I am my own harshest critic. I agree that sometimes it is nice to run alone just at whatever pace feels good at that moment.

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    1. Thanks for your comment! It's great when people support your effort no matter your pace. I love that your coach you were an inspiration. WE never know we inspire when we do the things we love with passion. said Keep running!

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  18. I love this post! I am overweight, and have no grandiose ideas of ever winning a race or being deemed fast. I get criticized by some sadly, about my times and I can't seem to convince them whatsoever that I'm out there to make a difference to ME! I'm out there "doing" no matter how slow I go! John Bingham was the first person I read from that made me feel okay about being a slow "runner". The idea of his Penguin Runners gave me hope that I too, could fit in. Your blog is great as well! I haven't ran/jogged in a while, but hoping to get back into it soon! Thank you for being an inspiration.

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  19. Thanks Lynn! Isn't it funny how some can't wrap around their heads the fact that there are people who run because THEY SIMPLY LOVE TO? And John Bingham is my favorite. He such a great guy! If you ever get a chance to join him and Jenny Hadfield on one of their cruises or tours, do it. You will not regret it!

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