For my 12 mile taper run I signed up for a very small, low key half marathon instead. It was held on the Glacial Drumlin State Trail, which I know is completely flat, and on a tightly packed gravel surface so that extra 1.1 mile more isn’t cheating my taper, in my opinion. I didn’t “race” it either, though I did focus on finding a comfortable rhythm preferably in the 9:40s. I managed to get half of the splits in that range, and the other half was all over with the fastest being 9:02, and slowest being 11:00 where I ended up taking a walk break. My overall pace was 9:49.
Enough about the numbers.
It’s funny what I’m able to take away from the races that I do. From this race I was reminded that you never know who you are racing, even if you’re not really racing. At around mile 7 I started a game of I-pass-you-you-pass-me with a girl in an orange shirt. She’d pass me, minutes later she’d slow to a walk, and I’d pass her again. It was clear to me she was doing the run/walk method, and kicking my ass during her run ratio. She eventually lost me around mile 9 or 10 when I started to peter out.
After the race, she was stretching, and I was… uh, sitting on the grass drinking my post-race beer. Our eyes met, and she smiled. I took that opportunity to congratulate her and say she looked strong out there. She responded, “Wait, I think I recognize you, who are you?”
Hah. “I’m Steena”
“OHhhhh, I’m Gustorama on Twitter, I don’t tweet much any more, but I still follow you and see your tweets. What’s your latest injury?”
I was racing a girl that I used to chat with on Twitter on a regular basis. She was incredibly sweet and supportive of me during my runner’s knee depression. It makes me think of all the people that I notice on the course. Who are they? Is he an experienced runner with dozens of marathons under his belt? Is she doing her first half marathon? Is he coming back from an injury? Is she on the brink of getting an injury? Is he a former high school track runner? You just don’t know who you are racing, and what their athletic situation is. That’s why it’s important to remember it’s you against you out there. Sure, it’s fun to try and pick off people during the race, and frustrating when seemingly hundreds of people pass you, but it’s important to run your own race because you never know if you’re racing your Twitter friends.