Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Great Expectations

I have recently been trying to introduce some intensity as well as some short duration, high impact activity to my training. The logical answer has been running; an activity that I don't particularly like and, as a result, have not been doing with regularity. I am not a runner.

I've run a handful of times (literally) in the last two years (since my last half ironman). Nevertheless, I ran the Stampede Half Marathon on Sunday. It was an impulse decision. My brother in law was doing it and I told myself that it would be a good chance to get out and make it happen.

Given that I was basically winging it, I tried not to put any pressure on myself in terms of pace. Finishing was the objective. Nevertheless, I was mindful of the 2 hour pace bunny that was in range for much of the race. He and his followers were doing the 10 minute run / 1 minute walk thing. Some people swear by this method, but I think it's torture to tease my body in this way (I consider it the equivalent of pushing the snooze button a dozen times in the morning). Instead, I opted for the agony of being passed by the 2 hour run/walk group of people every ten minutes until they finally slipped out of reach. I hate being passed.

I resisted the temptation to push myself over 'the line' by other runners as they passed and I stuck with the pace that my body dictated. That is, until a stubby little lady with a crooked leg awkwardly hobbled past me. I hated myself for thinking it, but I decided that I could not be slower than her. I stewed on my wickedness for a long time. Who was I to think that I should be faster? I had no way of knowing what sort of training she had done for the race. More than likely, it was more than me. Maybe I wasn’t giving her enough credit, or, maybe I was giving myself too much.

I was reminded of the first running race I entered, back in 2000. Dana and I had been running a few times each week for a couple of months on a nice, short, flat, paved route (I would estimate that it was a 5km route, but I really had no concept of distance at the time). We were proud of our progress, having started from scratch, and we fancied ourselves as ‘runners’. As the next step in our development as ‘runners’, we entered a 10km trail run at Nakiska. Waiting at the start line, we identified a heavy-set, middle-aged man that we affectionately labeled “heart attack man”. We weren’t out to win the race, but surely we would beat this guy. You might be surprised how poorly a flat, paved 5km training route prepares you for a rugged, hilly (up and back down a f’n ski hill) 10km race course. Not only did heart attack man beat me, but a girl that rolled her ankle and was driven to the finish line by the medical vehicle beat me. I was dead last. Dead last.

I ridicule guys for insisting on being faster than girls – but, if I’m honest with myself, I’m no different. I constantly find myself in situations in which I think I should perform better than others based on rapidly formed opinions and hubris. I should know by now that the images I have of fitness and athleticism that have been influenced by watching pro-sports and Bowflex advertisements are not entirely accurate – fitness and athleticism takes many forms. By the same token, my self-image is a bit generous at times, leading to ambitious expectations. I guess this is human nature and I should be glad for it, as it continuously propels me forward toward bigger and better things. Still, I can’t help feeling like a jerk. I have no idea whether the crooked-legged woman beat me (in my fatigued state, I lost track of her). I hope she did.


Blogger Emma said...

Firstly: hurrah! Running is great. You know it.

Secondly: I know. I know. I'm the same. In my case, I judge by the clothes. I can never be slower than anyone not wearing technical fabric. Cotton?! COTTON?! I won't be beat by cotton.

July 10, 2007 at 1:20:00 PM MDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wha? You ran a half marathon on the weekend? The “Sunday run” you casually mentioned yesterday was a half marathon? You are the biggest sandbagger I know!

Congratulations Tori, a half marathon on a whim is VERY impressive. Imagine what you might be capable of with a training run or two!

July 10, 2007 at 2:49:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Dallas said...

last time I ran?....I got away from the Constable and was able to hide under this semi-trailer, and behind the tires as he ran past not seeing me, and then I doubled back. but then I had to return to the party all dirty and sweaty.
I think it was a 1.3km sprint?.

July 11, 2007 at 12:30:00 PM MDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I tell the story I came in dead last and you were second last - please stop stealing my thunder! I remember getting to the top of that mountain and instead of the feeling of victory it was the feeling of shame when the cheering section asked me if I should maybe consider sitting down. I'm proud of you for doing a half marathon but I also semi wish that you would go back to your heavy drinking days (like that one time when you almost got us kicked out of an Alice Cooper concert).


July 12, 2007 at 5:52:00 PM MDT  

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