For anyone reading from my blog’s start, you already know, I run. Serious runners might call me a jogger because of my times, but I take offense to that. Jogging sounds way more nonchalant than the effort I’m putting out there. To me, jogging sounds like sashaying. And I am definitely not sashaying.
Over the years, a group of great friends have assembled, gathering for this 5k or that 5 miler. And it’s become a habit, standing around before and after, catching up and talking about the next race. Here we are on the boardwalk yesterday after the race for the Special Olympics. I’m the little head peeking over in the center, and that’s my calf on the bottom too!
My day started out well. We left the kids with a very generous family member who was willing to wake up at 5:30 am so that we could be to the race start on time. The weather was windy, damp and chilly, which I don’t mind, it gives me an excuse to get moving to warm up.
After mulling around for an hour, we took our positions at the start. My husband, who could probably get a full body massage in the time between his finish and my finish, positioned himself toward the front. I typically move toward the back. Nothing jabs harder at the ego than being passed by a few hundred people in the first few minutes of a race.
I put my iPod on a great playlist, beginning with Bruce Springsteen’s Jungleland and Land of Hope and Dreams. Yes, sometimes I wear an iPod. For me, I consider it a complete crutch to get through the miles. I prefer to run without music in my head and take in the experience of the people and sounds. But because I am undertrained at this point, I wanted to avoid the possibility of dragging and feeling tortured for 5 miles, so I brought music.
As I slugged through the first miles, I noticed a woman in a black shirt with a man who seemed to be coaching her along. For this post, I will call her Jackie. Not her real name, which I actually know because she had her race number with her name on it pinned to the back of her shirt. Jackie, Jackie, Jackie…
From what I gathered, Jackie’s strategy for completing the race was to run and walk in intervals then begin running again. Now here’s how Jackie’s strategy affected me. My pace was steady, so when Jackie would stop and walk, I would catch up with her and her partner. And just as I was ready to pass them, they would resume running and get yards ahead of me again. Frustrating. I told myself that her actions had nothing to do with me, and that her strategy was planned out long before race day, but she was getting in my head. This cat and mouse game happened at least a dozen times between mile 2 and 5.
The race finish was along the boardwalk. The wind was strong, and I was ready to be done. Jackie and her partner were ahead of me, as they had been for the last 5 miles. And I had had enough. I could see the people gathering at the finish line, so I knew I had limited time. I increased my pace with the last bit of energy I had left. I closed the gap between me and my Saturday morning nemesis. I cut to her right and hit the finish about a yard and a half ahead of her, knowing full well that this little battle resided solely in my head, my silly idea of victory.