Friday, June 8, 2007

Running on Empty

I ran in a race last night. It was my second race and longer than the last, four miles. Four miles is a piece of cake to experienced runners, but to a newbie like me, it's exhausting. Man, it lasts a lifetime when it's 90 degrees outside and you're at the back of the pack. I finished fourth in my age group, which was right in the middle of the pack. I'm still really slow, but that's okay. I will eventually get better. At least that's what everybody keeps telling me. It's just frustrating to see people zip past me, especially when they're much older or much, much faster. I'm just so competitive that I hate it when I can't do something really well. I keep telling myself to quit worrying about the other guys and stick to reaching my own personal goals. It's hard when you're surrounded by people who are so skilled and intense. There were some serious runners there last night, and they were very intimidating. I feel like such an amateur, but I can't stop now because I know it's not really about beating the other guy. It's about proving something to myself.

Despite my frustrations last night with my own performance, I felt really good about a couple of things. First of all, the spectators. I noticed a few people who lined the route and cheered for every last person. They didn't leave after the bulk of the runners had gone by. They stayed on the curb and cheered those of us in the back. It's very motivating for a complete stranger to clap and shout encouragement to you because they know that winning to us is just being able to finish. God bless the man in the blue cap with the little girl and the baby in a stroller. Their shouts were a push in my back at the end of that third mile. They have no idea how good they made me feel at a time when I needed it most .

I was also impressed with the senior runners. The 70 year old man with the six pack abs and top gun speed was kind of annoying, simply because I felt so inadequate next to him. Really, though, I was in awe of his athleticism. However, I was more impressed with the elderly fellow who came in last, but never quit. I passed him early on. He had a crooked gait and an untied shoe, but he was DETERMINED. Long after I had finished and was sucking down water, I saw him hit the finish line at the same slow speed and with the looping stride. He never gave up. If you ask me, he was the big winner of the night. It's a shame they don't give out a plaque for "best effort". He would have won, hands down. I hope I can keep up with him.

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