First and most important, massive congratulations to Sun Runner who went down to Cleveland and BQed, drop in and give her some props!!!
After two disappointing runs this past week, including one run where I doubted whether I should even run this race, I begrudgingly awoke when my alarm sounded. Now a selling point of this race, aside from the $250 cash money award to the overall male and female winners (so just try to top that purse), the race was moved to begin before Lansing’s 150 celebration parade (which I’m sure has garnered massive national media coverage sufficient that you are now exhausted hearing about it) and promised large crowds to cheer on the racers (the ‘crowds’ arriving early for the subsequent parade never showed).
As I was walking around the grounds and preparing for the race I managed to completely ignore a friend. Fortunately she said “Fine, don’t say Hi!” and snapped me out of my zone. This is the second time I’ve done this at a race this year—completely ignored someone I made eye contact with and even smiled at as I walked right past. Social skills before a race = zero.
The weather was overcast with a slight rain fading into a mist with pretty solid wind gusts, and almost all the local running rock stars were present. Any chance at some bling would require a PR.
The gun sounded and off we went. The first mile was nothing special to report other than a near twisting of my ankle as I stepped on the ridge of the sidewalk passing a runner and thought “Wouldn’t that have sucked a week before Bayshore.”
About a mile and a half in I attempted to pass a runner. I managed to surge in front of him only to have him surge back and retake his position. I surged again as we ascended the rising arc of a bridge; only to have him pass me on the down arc. It was at that moment I realized this guy was not just another runner…he was my taper. He was tormenting me. He was harassing me. He was giving and then taking away. He was pissing me off. We rounded a corner and began up a hill. I passed him again. He passed me on the downhill and distanced himself by about fifteen feet.
The course ends with a downhill followed by an uphill, about .1M flat, then the last .2M on a slight uphill. On the last downhill I made the decision my taper would be punished for tormenting me.
I caught up with my taper at the end of the penultimate uphill only to watch him surge away. I thought, “Well, that’s it, game over.” And then, all of the sudden I was right behind him. I had owned him on every uphill this race, so I went for broke. I passed my taper. I disrespected it right there in the streets of Lansing. I didn’t even look back. My taper pushed me as hard as I could go and even momentarily broke my spirit, but I responded.
And this is important because running is not just about time. It is learning about yourself and how you respond to adversity while never forgetting that today’s success is only possible because of prior failures and struggles. Sometimes the response is that moment. Sometimes the response is the next race. Sometimes the best response is simply lacing up your shoes and running the next day.