I am not a serious athlete, by any definition, but these races (supposed ‘fun’ runs) make me jumpy and unleash an unhealthy competitive spirit in me. I set out with a specific time target, usually in the unreasonable, unattainable range. Manage my hydration in advance, so I don’t even have to stop at the water stations, regardless of heat. Every second delay counts. I race individual runners along the way. Especially if some not-as-fit looking person dares to pass me. I go after them, regardless of whether I really have it in me, or not. Once in the Crescent City Classic, the EMS guy pulled me out, because he thought I was going to pass out. My face had gone from red to sickly yellow. Ick! That’s a clue that this is not about enjoyment. By the last mile, I’m usually incredulous that I had signed up. What was I thinking?
Today was completely different. I had no time target at the start line, other than to simply finish. I hit every single water station. I chatted with my co-runners, never challenging any of them in a regrettable side-stitch-inducing race. I sang along with the bands motivating us with very cool rock ‘n roll from the sidelines (DeLorean Rising under the Shepard overpass were my favs). Waved to all the sweet high schoolers who came out to cheer. Memorized all the fun shirts and signs (“no matter how slow you run, you’re way ahead of the guy still sitting on the couch”). By the last mile, I was almost sorry it was over. It was pure enjoyment. I got it about the ‘fun’ part of the fun run … finally (!) … after almost 30 years of doing these.
The best preparation for the 10K run this morning appears to have been the past 11 days of meditation. I could slip into the flow of the run – no time checks – no stop watch – no PRs – no rush. Just run. Smile. Breathe. It wasn’t about performance. It wasn’t a competition. It was about enjoyment. For the first time ever, the competitive me stayed home. Amazing.
p.s. I did run my slowest ever 10K, but had the most fun ever 🙂