Friday, October 31, 2008

Racing and me

Last week in response to my request for ideas on what to blog about, Kate commented: "I would like a list of your favorite races (running, obviously) and why!"

That simple sentence gave me major writer's block because the more I thought about it, the more I realized I don't know that I've EVER enjoyed a race. Racing is my least favorite part of running. I'm too competitive not to care how well I do, and too lazy to train hard enough to ensure that I do well.

When I was a freshman in high school I didn't know any better and turned out to be a pretty good runner. All of my running glory began and ended in ninth grade. Although my times weren't that great compared to what high school girls run these days, I ended up placing at the state championships in indoor and outdoor track that year.

Only afterward did I realize the problem: I was no longer an underdog -- a position in which I tend to flourish -- and for the rest of my high school career I raced every race with the pressure of expectations. I don't know that I ran much better or worse than before, but I started to hate running.

After I went to college I was so happy to be done with track that I stopped running altogether for about two years, which in retrospect is hard to believe. My junior and senior years I found some good running partners and gradually got back into it. Still, I remember soon after I met Lib near the end of my junior year, she described me as "a runner" to her father and it jarred me because I no longer thought of running as part of my identity.

That was in 2000. Five years later I entered my first race since high school (I think -- maybe I'm forgetting one or two somewhere along the line). Now I run a few a year, usually thanks to Kate's persuasiveness. The good thing about our local races is that most of them are 5k's, so painful as they may be, at least they're over relatively quickly. (I spend a lot of time during races repeating to myself: "The faster you run, the sooner you're done.") I always dread them before I start but later am usually glad I ran them.

I know that none of this answers your question, Kate, but maybe at least you see why it's a hard one for me to answer!

Let's see ... I guess I can think of two races I enjoyed: the one for the two-mile state championship in outdoor track my freshman year, and the 10k Pinehurst Turkey Trot a couple of years ago. I remember both of them just felt good. I was in good shape for the two-miler because it was the end of track season, and that run felt so easy because I was used to racing four events at every track meet instead of just the one. And I was in good shape for the 10k because I was training for a marathon.

Next up: responses to Ally's questions about my faith and my community involvement. After this rambling discourse on running, I'm sure you guys can't wait to see where I go with those! :)


Kaitlin said...

I love it!! Thanks. I do understand not liking racing. I always prefered practice over any day of a race. I think I might have to write a post about my favorite races sometime. Although, considering you always ran the 3200, it's highly understandable why you hated races. This is getting long. Thanks for the post! Will you still race when I leave town? :P

Shannon said...

I'm trying to get into running. I got into running in college to lose weight and because it was faster than walking. I hope to run in the Turkey Trot in Pinehurst, we'll see!

Ken Loyd said...

ESPN couldn't have done a better analysis of your running career. I understand completely. My best "runner's highs" were always when just running along after getting my second wind on a beautiful day. Now I'm torn between running and further ruining my knees!

Ally said...

I liked reading your rambling:) And I get what you're saying about being the underdog. My first year of cross country was much more fun b/c there were no expectations, and when I did well my coach was so happy (and initially surprised). But with another more experienced runner, he wasn't (even though our performances were the same).

jennifer said...

Kate: I bet I won't keep racing when you're gone. Sad!

Shannon: I'm probably going to run the Turkey Trot this year. We're one of the sponsors, so we'll have a booth there regardless. Maybe I'll see you there!

Dad: I know you do understand completely because you were there for most of it! If you live as long as I think you're going to, your knees will not last, so I say, wear them out with good runs! Knee replacements are such a fad with our family.

Ally: Isn't it interesting how expectations color things? I think about that all the time. How did your cross-country career go after your first year?