The Saturday Racing Debate Is Put To Bed

Thanks to everyone who commented, either through the blog or Twitter, on my post about the racing conundrum.  I gave it more thought and realized that this race just didn’t have my name on it, so I’m going to let it pass right on by.

The racing conundrum made me realize that I don’t need to be training for anything to enjoy running.  Truth be told, when I’ve got a race coming up, my giddy excitement is always peppered with a good dose of ridiculousness.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy races.  I LOVE them. I look forward to them like a kid at Christmas.  I get beyond giddy at the chaotic mass of people and, at the risk of embarrassing myself, I get a bit teary emotional at the thought of that many people taking off and doing something hard, for a good cause, together.  Plus, of course I love to see ridiculous warm-up routines, hideously inappropriate race wear, and adorable old folks who I just know will put a serious hurtin’ on my younger-yet-slower ass.

And then there’s the run-up to the race.  When I’m “training”  (which for me is just running as usual, but with a race coming up in a few weeks’ time), I get super-paranoid about every single little muscle twinge and apply ice/massage/voodoo incantation to anything that is slightly tight or achy, forgetting that those are regular sensations.  I can get a bit antsy if I have two runs in a row that are slower than my usual pace, which is ridiculous because, well, HELLO!  Turtles in the sand–carrying each other  piggy-back–are faster than me.  I also psych myself out to be content (and not tackle race authorities for allowing so many runners to be faster than me) if I don’t manage to make it a PR race–which again, given how I’m slow as can be AND not looking to win any titles, is a bit silly.

All of this is bearable and enjoyable when it’s in anticipation of a race that I’m looking forward to (for a good cause and, just as importantly when I race in Trinidad, at a shadier, cooler time of the day.) I embrace the nerves, make the most of them for the sake of motivation, and actually walk around in a halo of “I am an athlete, bitches!”  But it’s not worth going through all of that for a race that I just KNOW will be uncomfortable.  And there’s no getting around it–racing at 2:45 pm makes having my wisdom teeth removed seem like a fun thing to do.

As soon as I made the decision, I had a heavy-duty DUH moment:  what I read, in blogs and magazines, can influence the way I see things like races, kinds of exercise, food, etc, in unconscious ways.  For the most part, I’ll be all Suzy Sunshine and say it influences me for the better (either because I try things I wouldn’t try before or see that there are things that I just won’t try–protein powders, gaggity gag.)  But it can also set standards that I go along with unthinkingly and without question, standards that I would not set for myself (or expect of others!) if I were to give myself a moment to think them through.

Furthermore, I may race with a race PR in mind, but I know that having a mass of people and being a bundle of nerves is not conducive to my own fastest time.  I’m faster when I don’t have to weave and don’t have to worry about conserving energy to race through the end line–and that’s when I DO end up weaving and dashing for the last 400 meters.  The Wednesday-morning-dragged-out-of-bed-sub-30-minute run is the PR that matters to me.  I give myself a loose race time that I want to achieve, but I race mostly for the experience of running in a herd.  Maybe I was a cow in a past life, but that’s the main thrill for me.

So lesson du jour?  I don’t need to race every single race that I can physically get myself to.  I knew that already, but I just needed some reminding.

And, wouldn’t you know it but as soon as I decided I wouldn’t run that race, I had one of my best runs EVER?  Like EVAH ever?  Four miles this morning, half of it done under some fortuitous–and very dark–clouds that thankfully did not pour down on me or my unprepared, un-ziploc-bagged iPod.  It felt AMAZING.  I floated past the morning grounds crews and garbage men in my own little cloud of sweat, bliss, and Diplo remix, without even once wanting to give any of said men the finger for their usual Trini behavior of dropping what they were doing to stare and gawp at me go by (up to five times, given my loop!) as if a girl running were the same as seeing the horsemen of the apocalypse.  Or a constant water supply, in a more Trini context.

As for the rest of the day, I have very little food-wise to report–I’m boring conscientious of eating all my leftovers and highly doubt that you want to see my Ugly Award-winning blueberry and banana oatmeal from this morning (which tasted great but whose greyness I wouldn’t subject ANYONE to, picture-wise.)  So I’ll leave you with two outfits of the day, the one that I worked/napped in:

T-shirt Kohl's, shorts and flip-flops Old Navy

And the one that I wore to go see an Austrian thriller at the film club:

Dress by me

A good run day, a good work day, AND the chance to wear two outfits?  What a Thursday.

Stay tuned for Foodie Friday tomorrow–I’m being whisked away for a surprise meal!   The only clue:  “It’s not ants or bugs.”  Should be interesting…

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