Yesterday, I ran a 10K. I was meant to be running the Race Weekend half-marathon today, but I decided, late in April, that instead of running disastrously slowly and risking serious injury to body and mind, I would run a shorter distance only a bit slowly (compared to most runners, not the elite super athletes who finish by the time I hit kilometre 3).
Training never goes as well as I expect, despite years of trouble with follow-through, especially after Bike Commuting Season begins, and I need my leg and lung power to get to work.
But the race went fine! The first half was the fastest 5K I have done in, literally, years. The second half, not so much, but still fine! 1:07 and change is totes fine!
But then I remember that last December, I was signing up for what I hoped to be a sub-2:15 half the week I turned 40.
But I then swing back quickly to ‘YOU ARE TOTALLY FINE’ and realise that, actually, I feel really good? I am a bit sore, sure, but my race recovery at R.’s (he lives near race starting and finishing lines, so his apartment is often my storage locker) was just long enough to down a smoothie and a muffin before biking home instead of languishing for hours, as I did last year (in fairness, though, it was 35C+ and 1374% humidity last year). But my shoulders aren’t made of rock, my hips aren’t screaming at me, and, despite a mondo wine and cheese binge on Thursday and ALL THE PIZZA on Friday, my stomach is not in tatters. (I did get heartburn DURING the race though, so, y’know, I still wouldn’t recommend either as a training strategy.)
The difference is probably because of two things:
- Yoga. No really. 20-30 minutes of YouTube a day has made a giant difference to this increasingly creaky body. MY FOOT ARCHES ARE STRONGER EVEN, so my recurring foot/ankle/knee/hip issues have barely been a blip lately. And, as I learned recently when I took a few days off and felt like I was going to die of not-sleeping, it helps a great deal with my lifelong insomnia too.
- Treating the race as a thing to do instead of a THING TO STRESS. Why get my brain so competitive that I panic? It is a challenge, sure, but my life is not dependent on it. The 10K has thousands of runners who aren’t IN IT TO WIN IT, but people (60% women!) who want to do something longer than a 5 and just want to finish. AND THAT’S OKAY, TOO.
But, of course, it’s not all sunshine and roses and a blog entry here is nothing without more lists and crabbiness.
- People running four or five abreast and ALL slow down or start walking at once, essentially creating a wall of sweaty idiocy for people behind them to hit.
- People who start in corrals for runners that are much faster than they are, so the next two waves of competitors have to go around them in the first 500m. It is fine to be slow! It is fine if your training didn’t go as well as planned! But it is actually dangerous to to put yourself in the direct path of thousands of people who want to get around you! There were literally people (often in pairs) who started in a corral ahead of my second-least-fastest one who were walking/staggering/sweating themselves into oblivion within the first ten blocks. Y’all weren’t ready for this and are doing yourselves harm.
- Weirdly placed water stations, at kilometres 4, 6 and 9. I guess when you have a canal to work around, you can’t just set them up wherever, but 9? Really? People are already going so slowly by that point and you want to bring them to a near-dead stop?
- No orange slices. To be fair, I don’t know that I have ever had them at a Race Weekend event, but dang if they aren’t refreshing as fuq after running your brains out.
- People. Fucking. Snapchatting. While. Running. What. The. Fuck.
- This one dude who was running backwards, smiling smugly at his girlfriend, who was having a tough time running forward.
- My hair being too short to pull back, but too long to stay out of my frickin’ face, necessitating wearing a hat, which didn’t want to stay on my head and made me even sweatier than usual, despite its space-aged, venting material.
Good things that can get me crazy emotional even though this is ‘just a run’ sponsored by a corporate entity:
- Blind runners and their guides.
- People running in t-shirts saying things like ‘In memory of James’ or ‘Running to raise money for the Heart Institute. Quintuple Bypass Survivor.’ It isn’t just a run for them.
- Dozens/hundreds of little kids on the sidelines offering tiny high-fives.
- People who cheer me on specifically, even though I didn’t recognise a one. I used to hate having my first name on a race bib, but now I get why they do it.
- The collective experience of running/hobbling for more than a hour with 11000 people. I don’t go to concerts, really, and my trivia life is usually a dozen people or less, so this is it for group participation on a grand scale. It can be overwhelming, even for a skeptical old coot like me. I tear up a bit at the beginning and ends of races just thinking about it.
So yeah. Will this be my last race ever? Naw. Will I train better next time? Maybe. Will my running mix always include ‘Queen Bitch’? You betcha.
In other news, I had another Jeopardy! audition/interview last month (longtime readers may know that I had one in 2013). I will know some time between now and December 2018 whether I make it on the show. They did not ask me about my ‘Going to the Wrong Polish Crooked Forest’ anecdote. Bah.