Long story short, I was early to my 10 K race and so had the privilege of watching half marathoners passing by with about 200 meters to go after being on the course for 3 + hours. The sense of determination, of grit, of determination but also of joy as many were literally dragging an injured leg behind them and had every right and reason to quit but did not showed me the utility, the value of running a race. And if I dismissed that as irrelevant, I was wrong and I apologized. One guy was dragging his leg behind him, a young boy yelled out words of encouragement and this runner took the time to acknowledge that. My hard and cold heart melted at this scene and I even had a tear in my eye.
The Numbers of my race
Chip Time 46:16
Gun Time 46: 41
75th out of 2,132 finishers.
5th out of 52 in my age group.
Run total for the last three months; 65 K
Cycle total [road and mtb] 943 K
A great day for me and almost had me reverse my decision that this would be my last race and I was not likely to do anything for the rest of this year and going forward other than jog for fun but ....
Race expo - had missed an opportunity to go mountain biking and instead got my bib, a shirt I did not care for and none of the extras promised as this race was to celebrate the 150th birthday of Canada. Total disappointment. The good old days when picking up a bib was like getting candy as a kid.
Pre race - missed a great day to cycle as I had to taper one day. Had my early pasta dinner at Earls but as my race did not start until 11:00 am, my whole prerace routine was messed up. Was still grumpy and irritable but on a 10 K level, not a marathon level. A waste of another day and night.
Did bike 12 K to the race site on my commuter bike. It was a great warm up. As a result, I did get to see the amazing half marathon racers. But I did have an hour to kill.
The race started 15 minutes late and that meant standing in a hot sun for 30 minutes. My displeasure of that was only exceeded by stupid people who clearly were not going to run any faster than a 90 minute or slower 10 K race but insistted on starting at the very front. I was close to knocking one of those self absorbed idiots over after having to bob and weave for the first 200 meters of the race. Did have a wonderful post race massage even though they lost my name when I transferred from the marathon to the 10 K and was told that would not be a problem.
Got home and decided I should reverse several decisions: not to run a 10 K race in June and to sell my Blitz duathlon bib in September because the thought of running 10 K was that revolting to me that I had no choice but not to do that race. I had thought a 48 minute 10 K race was realistic but 49 or slower was not out of the realm of the possible. Ran the first 5 K in nearly 24 minutes but had a great second 5 K although I did start to fade in the last kilometer so maybe there were so races still left in these old legs of mine.
But then my system was off. My head fuzzy, my balance off a little and things were not feeling right. Saw that at the finish line my heart rate had gone past 100%. Then an old running alignment hit me - a dry hacking cough. My mind, my body and my soul made it clear that if I run fast, either in training or a race I am going to pay a price in terms of my health. If I am lucky, it is acute but if not ... Thus it is abundantly clear that my race career is over.
I am going a 90 K ride next Saturday, a 135 K ride in July and if things work out, a 100 mile ride in September. Thus I have neither the time nor the inclination to do anymore running this year. Not that averaging less than 10 K a week was training in any sense of the word.
But as noted, I did find a new appreciation that running or what in my case will be jogging can bring. In my case, I was thrilled at my placement as I had thought top 150 might have been possible but top 250 was more realistic. But on the other hand, the 3rd place finisher in my age group beat me by a mile. The 3rd place overall, by 2.6 K. So any joy, sense of accomplishment was tempered by the fact that in purely objective race terms, I am not all that competitive relative to "real" runners. So if my speed and fast no longer provides any satisfaction, any joy or pleasure as I now see a race as running at an uncomfortable pace for a set distance, then just finishing with the right pace and attitude may work. Not now as for the next year or two, cycling will be my passion. But in a couple of years, I can see myself jogging a marathon with a focus on how my body and especially my heart is reacting.
Thus my raison d'etre for participating in a running community is gone and therefore so should I. But before I left I did feel the need, the obligation to apologize. Again today I had unpleasant experiences with better runners but that does not take away from the fact that running and racing can have a much greater value then just speed or results. And although for me racing is no longer a healthy choice, it does not mean I should dismiss all races for all people regardless of why they do so. The most lasting impression I will take from today is not the fast or real runners but the average person who is running for health and fitness and really nothing else. That the race really does not mean anything but at the same time, everything. That they are going to finish despite the result and I am grateful to see that. And with that, a better understanding of the value a race can bring and therefore my error in my stated views on the topic. And thus I do sincerely apologize.
We want to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly!
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