I’m reading Running: A Love Story by Jen A. Miller, and it’s inspiring. I like it because she is honest about the sucky aspects of running, like how it hurts your lungs and legs and back and the whole rest of your body. And how cold you get, and how hot you get, and how miserable you feel, and how great it is when you stop. What’s not to love?
Like Jen Miller, I got caught up in the Couch to 5k mobile app thing about five years ago, and I decided to give running a try. My brother – a REAL runner, writer, and adult human being – talked me into a 5k that was “all downhill.” Gravity was going to run the race for me!
When I left the house that day, my daughter said she hoped I won. Won? I didn’t even know if I’d find parking. The thought of “winning” stuck with me as I stood in the back of the pack at the starting line. I didn’t know all those people toward the back were going to walk, and talk (they were corporate teams), and I would spend a bunch of energy weaving around them just to get to a clearing.
That first race, with “winning” in mind, I started passing one “slow” runner, a woman I perceived as older and more out-of-shape, although we probably looked like twins to everyone else. She then passed me. I got annoyed. I passed her again. This time, she made it more difficult. We started running along side each other. Then we started glaring. My relaxing first race was suddenly awful.
Then I saw a man holding a sign. “I did it!!” I thought, “Hooray, it’s all over!!”
The sign said, “MILE 1.”
I tried to remember I wasn’t competing against anyone but myself, but my competitive side screamed, “STFU, hippy! This ain’t yoga!”
Eventually, about 3 hours later, she passed me for the last time, and I slogged across the finish line feeling like I lost. (Were there people who finished behind me? Yes. Were they still walking and talking? … Yes.)
The next race, an eight year old girl passed me. She ran with all her might and stopped every 50 feet to catch her breath, so she actually passed me several times, but by the time I crossed the finish, she was sitting at a picnic table with her family finishing a sundae.
The next race, a woman who breathed like an overheated pug spent the whole race about 3 feet behind me to my left. That snorting still resonates in my left ear. I was determined to put some distance between us, but SHE passed me! Beaten by Dying Pug! That had to be a record.
After that, it was lovebirds on a stroll. In fairness to me, we were going uphill, and since my feet were leaving the ground to run, and they were just walking (with the benefit of traction…), I had the disadvantage. The fact that they smiled at me kind of stung a little.
In my latest race, I was beaten by an octogenarian with swollen feet. His ankles were actually wider than his calves. It hurt me to watch him run, but watch him I did, because he passed me well before mile 2 and I spent the rest of the course wincing with every step he took.
I am the world’s slowest runner. I look more like a mime walking into the wind than an athlete. I may never run more than 5k (unless I sign up for my first 10k this April, maybe, I don’t know, I might need some encouragement.)
It doesn’t matter. Racing is fun. I can’t wait to see who beats me next.
If it’s you, please be kind & don’t snort in my ear.