A runner? Yes. A fast runner? No. I've tried to be a fast runner. I've worked on becoming a fast runner. But even at my prime (prime age, prime weight, prime shape) I was about a 9.5 minute mile. And today I average about an 11 minute mile. I can do a lot of miles. I just can't do them fast.
A week or so ago Mark asked me if I wanted to try a track race that the local running club was hosting. You could sign up for the 1-mile, 2-mile or a 2-mile relay. He thought it would be fun to sign up for the relay. They randomly assign you to a 4-person team and each person runs two laps around the track. "It's just for fun," he says. "To see how well we can do."
I spent the winter doing sprints on the treadmill, so why not? It's just for fun.
Today was the day of the race. And for me, it was one of those days where I just felt tired all day long. By the time I got off work I was dreading the race. And I'll admit, I did my fair share of whining about it to Mark. "What if I get on a team of really good people and I just ruin it for them? They'll all hate me!" He repeats, "It's just for fun!"
When we got to the track I could see there were some serious runners there. If you've been around races you know the ones I'm talking about. They are the ones doing warm-ups that would wear me out before the race even begins.
The relay was the last event of the evening, so we spent a lot of time sitting around watching the shorter races. When they finally gathered everyone for the relay event, I started to get nervous. They started reading names off and assigning people to teams. "Please just give me a team of all slow people so we can just run our pace and not care about winning," I thought.
They read my name. I was on a team with a jr. high track kid, a high school track kid and a very fit looking 20-something woman. "Crap!" is what came to mind. The first thing the high school junior said was, "I want to win this." "Crap!" came to mind again. "What's your 800 meter time?" he asks the junior high kid. "About 2:15" He asks the woman the same question. She said when she was on the U.D. track team hers was about 2:30. Then he turned to me and before he could ask I say, "Um...I don't have an 800 meter time. I do distance. I'm just in this for the fun and experience. Which leg should the slowest person run?" "Third," he says. "You'll run the third leg."
The first runners went to the start line and the race began. As the lady doing the second leg took off I felt myself getting more nervous. I did not want to look like an almost 40 clod out there and disappoint my team. I ran out to grab the baton from my teammate and started running. Fast. Too fast. About three quarters of the way around the track my chest was hurting and I was sucking in air like crazy. I thought I was doomed. There was no way I was going to make the second lap. I was already out of steam. But I wasn't about to walk with my young teammates watching. So I slowed the pace a little and tried to catch my breath. "All I have to do is make it around this track one more time and I'm finished. I can live through one minute of anything," I thought to myself. And I did. My heart rate was way too high and I could feel vomit rising in my throat. But soon I was approaching my teammate with the baton. All I had to do was hand it off and I was finished.
I finished--and with an impressive time. Our team came in 4th, and I received my first ever running trophy. I have tons of medals for finishing races, but never one for placing (Okay, there was one medal for placing third in my age group, but it was a small race and there were only four people in my age group running).
So a race I dreaded turned out to be a great experience. Now we're even planning to do some running workouts at the high school track.
So the moral of the story? Well, there are a few:
Don't be afraid to try new things.
Quit worrying so much about what other people think.
Try to give yourself a little more credit.
And finally, quit whining and just do it!
- J.J. Kunkle
- I am the owner of The Fit Life, LLC. The Fit Life, LLC offers fitness instruction and nutrition counseling in a holistic way. I focus on personal training using mainly your own body strength--very little equipment. I also hold a certification in holistic nutrition. Because nutrition counseling regulations are very strict in Ohio, I'm still working on what nutrition services I can provide to my clients; however, I'm happy to provide general nutrition information. I enjoy teaching TRX, Indoor Cycling, and Boot Camps.
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