Saturday, March 31, 2012

Born to Run

Alternate titles for this post include: Not Born to Run; We're Number 82.

You heard the sign.

We ran a race today! I ran a 5k and Leland ran a 10k (show off). It was the first road race for each of us. And it was on a trail, not on a road. Anyway.

When I told Leland that I was going to write a post about the race, he said, "wouldn't that be like one sentence? 'We ran, and then ran some more, then continued running, and finally stopped.'" This is why Leland doesn't write blog posts. Among other reasons.

I should warn you before we get too far into this thing that I hate to run. Ever since 5th grade, when we first had to run the mile, I always dreaded running. Why? The explanation's pretty simple. Running is boring and painful. And although throughout the experience of training for and then running the 5k I was wondering if maybe a bolt of understanding would suddenly strike me from the blue and convert me into a running aficionado, that did not happen. So this post is not really going to be a whole triumph of the human spirit thing.

Compared to most other animals, humans really are born to run. We're evolved to run long distances, much longer distances than any other species would care to go. In fact, some Native American groups in the Southwest would literally hunt deer by chasing the animal until it was exhausted. There are plenty of species that are faster than us, but not many that can outpace us over a long distance.

This isn't a lot of consolation when you're puffing along, sucking in air and tasting blood in the back of your throat. And this leads me to my first conclusion: humans are weird. I come to this conclusion a lot, pretty much every time I'm at the gym, surrounded by folks all doing their best to make themselves miserable. Ever watch a group of 5k runners go by? Do they look like they're having a good time?


And don't get me started about marathons. People, the first person ever to run a marathon died. Literally. That is how the story ends. He ran 26.2 miles and then died. Why would you then be all, "I've got this, guys. Sounds awesome!"

Leland, weirdly enough, likes to run. Or maybe he doesn't like it, I don't know, but he cares a lot more about things like pace and line and beating your personal best. I mostly just wanted to finish and not be last. In which I succeeded! I came in 82nd! Plus, the race we "competed" in was to raise money for sea turtles. Which is good, right? Who doesn't like sea turtles? They're a real crowd pleaser.

Sadly, my opinion of running hasn't changed. And that really wasn't helped out by my fellow competitors. When you're running where I was (in the very back), you end up surrounded by hordes of walk/runners. These are people who are actually unable to figure out how to pace themselves so that they can run the entire distance, so instead they will put on random bursts of speed and then subside into a walk, a process that they repeat for the entirety of the race. Since I ran the whole race, I would like those people to know that I am better than them. It's just a fact.

Anna running the race (artist's conception)

At one point I acquired a kid who was determined to use me as his own personal pacer. There was a whole horde of kids ages maybe 9-14 that arrived in a bus, from the Boys and Girls Club or something like that. (As an aside, I couldn't remember if it was Boys and Girls or Girls and Boys, but then decided that there was very little chance that Girls would be listed first. And I was right. Sigh.) Every single one of the kids employed the walk/run strategy. I ended up near this particular kid by passing him while he was walking. Having been passed by a fat, old chick, he then put on a burst of speed so he could get ten feet ahead, then walked again until I caught up with him, and then he sprinted ahead, then walked again...

This went on for probably half a mile, at which point I was ready to murder a sea turtle or two. Finally, as I was pulling alongside him, I grunted out, "kid, that is really annoying. Knock it off." He gave me a gratifying look of surprise and then actually knocked it off! I mean, did he think I didn't notice? And am I really so unathletic looking that I would inspire a renewed burst of energy?

Oh yeah, I beat him too. As well as dozens of other people who passed me at the very beginning, or insisted on trying to leap-frog me eighty million times. It's called pacing, people.

AND THEN I FINISHED RUNNING. It was GLORIOUS. The being done with running part, I mean.

Yeah, Number 46. Lookin' good.

Running makes me grumpy. But I am looking forward to the tasty steak dinner we have planned for tonight! The idea is to consume more calories than I expended during the race itself. Wouldn't want to throw my system out of whack.

And now that this race I've been "training" for is over with (once I realized I was physically capable of running 3.2 miles, I kind of lost interest in the whole thing), I'm very excited to get back to activities that are less boring and painful. Though Leland seemed to have a good time. In fact, he's planning on signing up for more races. I think that in the future I'll just cheer him on from the sidelines.

"Honey, smile."
"Don't you want it to look like I just finished the race?"
"No. Smile."
"Ok, give me something to smile about."
"Ummm.... I love you?"


  1. Every time I have picked up running, I too keep waiting for that bolt of inspirational what-now that would make me into one of those running people. It has never happened. I am absolutely with you on this - running is boring and painful.

    But you ran 5K! That's awesome!!! Go you!!!

  2. Sometimes I'm thankful for my knee injury that prevents me from running more than a few feet without collapsing in pain. Bravo on finishing, I can't even make it 2 miles on an elliptical without getting so bored that I stop.

  3. I never liked running either, mostly for the same reasons you listed. Riding a bike is a lot more fun.

    Many years ago, when your dad and I were walking out of the Grand Canyon, I took very tiny steps and just kept going. Everyone passed us but I passed many of them later when they were spent and I was still going. Pacing matters.