Tag Archives: racing

Every Run is a Victory

“SO WHERE DID YOU PLACE AT SHAMROCKS LAST WEEK?” my friend Larry asked during Wednesday night’s PR Fitness group run. He was referring to the Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5K in Ann Arbor on March 10.

“Second,” I said. “The first place guy ran under 19:00. There’s a couple people in my age group who are just really fast.” I sighed. “I’ve got to get better yet.”

Larry chuckled. “Now here’s a guy who finished second,” he said, “complaining about not winning.”

And I thought, Oh, no – I’ve become that guy.

Must...beat...the kid...

Must…beat…the kid…

Just two years ago, all I wanted was to snag one award – just one – in any race. If someone had griped to me back then about finishing second, I would have let him know (nicely, I hope) that some of us would be more than satisfied with that, and to be thankful he was healthy and fit, and strong enough to finish in the top tier of his group.

On my 50th birthday at the 2011 Holiday Hustle, I got my first award (a Christmas ornament, which I promptly dropped). Since then I’ve placed in the top 5 of my age group regularly, even winning several times. Now here I was beefing about finishing second in a large race. Did I now have to be in the awards group to feel like I ran a good race? Or finish first to feel happy? Heaven help me if it ever comes to that.

Sure, I’m competitive by nature, and finishing in the awards group feels good. But winning a race also depends on the weather, the terrain, and who else shows up (or more accurately, who doesn’t show up). And if we’re not elite runners, who really cares about how many races we’ve won? Spouses and kids, to a point. Fellow runners, good for a high five or two. Non-runners? Fuggetaboutit.

Serious Runners

Some serious runners at Shamrocks & Shenanigans.

More than anything, a race is a test of ourselves – a measure of our physical and mental fortitude, our discipline to stick out a hard run to the end. Improving as a runner, and as a human being, is really what counts. And that can come at any pace.

Last night reminded me of why I run races. Since I’m not in it for money or fame, I am free to set my own goals and to decide what “success” and “winning” mean. Isn’t that why we enjoy running – because it gives us that freedom? How blessed and fortunate we are to have that kind of opportunity. Every run, short or long, is a victory.

P.S. Now that I’m sufficiently grateful for being able to run, here’s what I got for finishing second at Shamrocks.

Unlike many awards, this is something I can actually use. Woohoo!

Unlike many awards, this is something I can actually use. Woohoo!


In-Crim-inated and Elevated

I’M TAKING A SHORT BREAK in my “500 at 50” bike trip recap to bring y’all up to date on a few recent events.

Saturday morning I ran the 10-miler in the Crim Festival of Races, a hugely popular set of running and walking events to promote fitness and fight childhood obesity (you can read more about it at this link). That meant crawling out of bed at 5:00 a.m. to board a bus to Flint with 40 other equally crazy people in my running group. PR Fitness is well represented at many major events, including the Boston, New York, and Chicago Marathons, but the Crim is our biggest event.

The Crim is apparently Flint’s premier event of the year; the mayor called the start of each race. They put on a really good show for a city struggling so hard just to survive. (I hope they find a way to reinvent themselves; it can be done. Ask anyone in Pittsburgh, for example.)

We were signed up for the Team Challenge, where teams of 10 runners combine their times, and the top 5 times on each team count. Alas, while I ran a decent time (just under 74 minutes) my time did not count this year. But everyone had a good time, and one of the Team Challenge perks was a private post-race hangout area with free barbecue and drinks. So I drowned my sorrows in my annual half cup of beer.

My big running event of the year – the 50K trail ultramarathon at Run Woodstock in Pinckney – is just two weeks out, and I met and ran with many other ultra runners during two training runs on the trails. Most of them are running the 50-mile and 100-mile races. I feel like a wimp.

And in the world of Aikido – I passed my test on July 30, so I am now a pre-1st Kyu! My goal now is to test for ( and hopefully pass) full 1st Kyu in December, and from there to train for a pre-shodan (black belt) test in June 2013, possibly with up to two other Rec & Ed Club students. So even with my “year of being 50” ending all too soon, there’s still plenty to look forward to!

As for my August writing goal, I have actually written a bunch more stuff than my progress bar shows, I just haven’t brought my list up to date yet. Still have some work to do to get there, however. (Funny how the non-athletic goals are proving harder to accomplish. Never would have expected that.)

Still to come: the final day of the bike trip, and some overall highlights and reflections on the trip as a whole.