Sunday, July 5, 2009

Run, Jack, Run

I wasn't even a mile into the race, and I asked myself what in the world I was doing running a race that I'd not trained for thoroughly enough. The svelte couple pushing their baby stroller race ahead of me. So did the older man and the dad and son duo. I hit myself over my head with my imaginary wet noodle, lamenting that I'd not trained enough to make it through this race in record time.

It has been a few years since I ran my last 5K. That was Jasper, Georgia, with a friend. Our time? Almost 45 minutes. This time I declared I'd better be faster. Hopefully, I thought, I'd like to run this race in less than 45 minutes, too.

Once I got to the first mile marker, I was relieved. I couldn't believe that a mile was THIS LONG! Surely the second mile would come quicker, but it didn't. In fact, it was even longer. The third mile wasn't quite as bad and when I got back to Maryland Way, the end was in sight.

There stood my buds, Adam and Robert, clicking pics and cheering me on. I felt as encouraged by their cheering as I felt defeated by my exhausting effort. Surely my time was longer than any other 5K I'd run. Still, I kept running to the finish line.

Once I got to the finish, I saw the clock ticking down at 35:00 minutes. After crossing, I asked the Nashville Striders member if the clock was right. I thought it was supposed to be an hour and 35 minutes.

As I ran this 5K, there were lots and lots of thoughts that crossed my mind. Here are just a few of those:

1 - Why did I enter a race in a sport that I don't particularly care for? As competitive as I am, I always love a challenge and wanted to do something just to accomplish it. Sometimes in life I just want to accomplish something for the sake of accomplishment. I'll run my first marathon within the next year.

2 - Why didn't I train more? Sure, I ran a lot, but nothing like I should have. Training is a day-to-day effort that results in an accomplished long-term goal. This reminded me that life is like this. Daily practice results in long-term accomplishments and success.

3 - How can other people run that much faster than I can? Of course, training is part of it, but so is natural ability. I have to work harder and smarter, and I will. But also, why focus on those in front? My focus should be on what I was doing and besides, look at those behind me. When I finished, half of those racing were behind me.

4 - Why were my friends not running with me? One thing I've learned is that most people who want to lead have to do so alone. With leadership qualities, I've found myself going it alone more times than not. And it's OK.

5 - What can I do to be better next time? Like in real life, discipline is essential. That's probably the most important thing I can remind myself of. While the daily grind may be boring and mundane, routine practice garners the most success when it comes down to that.

Well, I guess the race was beneficial in more ways than one. After it was over, I didn't lament; I celebrated the victory. Finish time was 34:57, an 11 minute mile. Not bad for a man who needs to be in better shape. Would I do it again? Sure. And when I do that marathon, I'll probably have more thoughts to share. Anybody care to join me next time?

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