Not so much about SEE SPOT RUN 28Apr08

Gotta tell ya’—
I hate 5K races. Strong words, I know, but nothing else states the feeling as well. I have always subscribed to the “more is better” philosophy hence, my life-long battle with “enough”….
“ Quantity over Quality” is my slogan. “If a little is good, a lot must be better!” I wear a bracelet that states “It’s better to wear out than to rust.” This has allowed me to be smugly OK with running longer and longer distances at slower and slower paces evidenced by the fact that there is scarcely 15 seconds a mile difference between my 5K and half-marathon pace. Besides, I don’t usually get the kinks worked out until 3 miles or so and in a 5K that’s about the time I funnel breathlessly into a chute and someone starts tugging at a paper hanging from my shirt. I mean, come on now—I just quit hurting 300 meters back and now you want me to stop? Puh-lease!!

And I am not very comfortable running in local races. Too many self-centered expectations coupled with overall performance anxiety tends to leave me all knotted up inside. I am “gulp” a poor sport…. My favorite race has been the Montana Marathon in Billings. I don’t know anyone, nobody knows me and who cares that I only signed up for the half and not the full 26.2. They don’t care if I am only half a runner, a slacker, a poser. You all on the other hand………..
Let’s just say the weather is frequently stormy in the land between my ears. The truth is that none of you ever treat me nearly as bad as I treat me.

BUT (the big “but”) I’ve had somewhat of a paradigm shift in the last 22 weeks as I went from running 35 mile weeks to pushing myself along on a scooter for 6 weeks and slowly coming back to running 3 miles two or three times a week waiting out the healing process after foot surgery. I hate (there I go again) calling it bunion surgery because that sounds like something old, inactive, fat people deal with but that’s what it is. Age and genetics finally caught up with me.

Along with the above listed neuroses I have propensity to engage in self-pity. Knowing that depression hates company I really tried to stay in touch with all my running cronies during the dark time, keeping up with the long runners, setting out the bucket, helping at the Winter Race Series and Frosty 4, going to the meetings and at least getting back to the gym as my recovery allowed. Still Karen, Kenn, Camille, Kate and others put up with a fair amount of my ‘woe is me’ moaning while gently extolling that I’d be back to running soon. Which kinda gets me back to the rethinking of the local 5K.

Appreciation really needs a reference point to be a positive force. Not running for 4 months has given me a chance to see how important it is for my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being, which is good, but the act of running is not the only thing that matters. There is a lot of peripheral activity associated with running or staying active that is just as important. Being involved isn’t always just wearing a bib toeing the start line. Chatting it up with folks before and after and sometimes during the race is a really cool thing. Pouting because a self-determined rival crosses a line before me or worse yet, not showing up because it might happen is not a cool thing. A legend in my own mind…………………….

So last Sunday, Karen talked me into riding down to watch the SEE SPOT RUN race and I signed up and ran my first local 5K in years. Had there been a 10K option, I’d have still signed up for the 5. I ran almost exactly 5 minutes slower that my last 5K three years ago (which was not even in North America and I would have signed up for anything longer were it available!). I was passed by numerous people, dogs and little kids. I knew at least by face half the 200+ people and I was only three miles from home.

And it was the most fun I’d had on a race course in quite awhile.

It felt like I’d just finished a marathon. My friend Greg and Jenny took first in the guy-dog category. I ran the whole thing without stopping. Good people with bad ailments ran fast. Many smiles, few dog fights. People were glad I was on the mend. Kenn was at the finish. I got to help a bicycle tourist with directions to Bickleton. The weather was picture perfect. My left foot felt pretty good. Karen took my picture. And I was genuinely happy to be there. It felt good to be back among my peers and to fit.

Thank you.