There are many different reasons to pursue during a race. I was thinking about this as I headed south for my 5K this past weekend. I was looking forward to running the OUC 5K because the weather was expected to be better than in Lansing-which did get some snow after all. However, running in ‘better’ weather was not the driving purpose to running outside of the Lansing area.
I’ve only been on a ‘maintenance program’ with my running, with one to two short runs and a long run of 8 to 12 miles every weekend. So, I wasn’t in peak racing shape, or even great training shape. Therefore, a PR was really unlikely. One aspect of my running that I enjoy is that I don’t feel compelled to PR every time I toe the line for a 5K. Therefore, my purpose was not to PR before the end of the year. I had a greater purpose this weekend.
And yet, the purpose of this 5K was more than a ‘just go out there and have fun’ attitude. I wanted to run hard; and I’m never opposed to any bling I may earn. However, my purpose in running this race was a greater than getting some extra bling.
Also, I just recently received, as an early present (thanks Santa), a new Garmin. The 405 should be pretty cool, and this would be my first opportunity to test out my new toy. Alas, the first road testing of a new Garmin failed to be my primary purpose this race.
Moreover, I had agreed to act as a ‘final .5M’ pacer; meaning I would double back after my race and help to motivate and encourage through the final and difficult last leg of the race. And I can tell you from previous experience, being a pacer for a friend is a great honor and tremendously enjoyable—even if they are tired and less than enthusiastic about your enthusiasm. While being a cheer pacer is excellent, it wasn’t my true purpose for this race.
As for the race itself, I started off trailing the lead pack. This put me and about five others in the second tier of runners for this race. For the first mile I led the second pack, but slowed a bit when the course went from concrete to brick. My first foot-strike on the bricks made my plantar fasciitis scream. And shortly thereafter I was passed by two runners.
I tried to stick with them, but they seemed to have something that second mile that I didn’t. It killed me a little to watch them pull away. Also, because I was running a new course, I didn’t have a solid idea of where I really was or how much remained in the race.
As I rounded a corner I noted a significant straightaway, and during this stretch I realized that the two runners I had passed had not only ceased to distance themselves from me, but that I had gained about 10 feet on them.
I began to summon my inner motivational voice: “Run faster you loser!” The long straightaway rounded into the final stretch. I furiously picked up speed. As the runner in front of me gained on his opponent, I was gaining on them both. About 30 meters from the finish I managed to pass both runners—but not without a valiant effort and attempted re-surge by one of the two runners to withstand my pass.
Immediately after finishing I spun around and jogged back down the course to meet up and begin my home-stretch pacer responsibilities. And, when that was done, I performed the primary purpose which had brought me to this specific race.