Life in the Slow Lane

There are many reasons why I think my friends are really, really fabulous. One of the biggest is that they are willing to come out to my running races to cheer me on. This would be great in itself, but it’s especially awesome considering that they have to stand out there for an incredibly long time.

Behold the speed and prowess of the four long distance races I have completed in my lifetime:

  • Revenge of the Penguins 10-Miler, September 2010: 2:09:52. (Granted, this course was all kinds of effed up and was actually more like 10.65 miles.) ~12:12/mile pace.
  • Victoria Half Marathon, October 2010: 2:44:03. ~12:30/mile pace.
  • Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, April 2011: 2:11:20. ~13:08/mile pace.
  • Vancouver Half Marathon, May 2011:2:51:37. ~13:08/mile pace.

Yeah. So I’m not gonna lie – when I hear people complain about how SLOOOOOOOW they are with a 10:00/mile pace, I sort of want to die a little bit inside.

I know, I know. It’s all relative. And I shouldn’t be comparing myself to other people. At my level, it’s pretty much useless anyway, because everyone is faster than me, including walkers, senior citizens, and men who skip rope or juggle balls while racing. I know, because all of these types of people have beat me in races. Real life.

Unattractive tights aside, check me out smoking an old man! Photo taken by Matt S.

I should clarify that I am a run-walker, in which I take walking breaks during set intervals. Jeff Galloway has popularized this method in the last few years. Sometimes it’s controversial. Some people claim that you can’t call yourself a runner if you take walk breaks. I think this is BS, honestly – why does it matter to anyone else if you stop to walk? If you run, at all, then yes – you’re a runner. That’s all there is to it. Stop being so haughty about running, people.

If you’re thinking, “Well, maybe if you didn’t take walk breaks, you’d be faster?” Yup, have explored that already. And sadly, I don’t even think I’d make it to three miles if I didn’t walk every once in a while! It’s true that if I took less frequent or shorter breaks, I would likely go faster. I’m working on that. But I have to say that I don’t think I’ll ever cut out walking completely.

This has been on my mind lately because I’ve taken an extended break from running since the Vancouver race on May 1st. It turns out that my significant slowdown since the fall, which caused a lot of frustration, confusion, and tears during training, was actually related to recurring health problems. I’ve undergone treatment and am feeling better, so the running itch is back again after almost three months of having no desire at all to hit the trails.

I haven’t gotten to the point yet where I enjoy lacing up my sneakers just to run. I must admit that I run for the thrill and excitement of the races. I’m obviously not racing in the sense that I have a chance of winning (we have clearly established that is not the case). But I love me a good race, and it’s what makes me run. I run when I have a goal. I run when I have a training plan. I run when there’s a medal at the finish line. I run when there’s a tech t-shirt on the line. I run when that means I can look up hideous, overpriced race photos of me on the internets. I run when I can experience butterflies in my stomach the entire week before the race. I run when I can proudly put a sticker on my car window.

As long as I stay healthy, I’d like to sign up for another race soon. Maybe a 5-miler in October, although I’m not sure I’ll be ready by then. Possibly, my third half in the spring – perhaps Vancouver again (and this time, I’m doing hill training, dammit)? Or somewhere in Hawaii, since I’d we’d like to go there for our delayed honeymoon next year.

Maybe I’ll see you on the sidelines at my next race. Just plan on going to brunch while you wait. Or at the very least, do what Thomas does and bring a book.

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