632 Conversations in 2:17 over 13.1 Miles
Or My Publix Half-Marathon Race (#coaching) report:
I heard all kinds of stuff because I slowed down. Who’s breaking up. Who’s hooking up. Who got fired. Who got hired. Who’s selling. Who’s buying. Who’s building. And of course, who’s keeping a 9 min/mile pace. That last one is like the waiter in a really nice restaurant who keeps showing up every 14 minutes to refill your water glass and make sure you are staying for dessert.
This race was different in so many ways. First, I was dealing with a sore knee that kept my training (and speed) to a minimum. Not to add too much insult to the process, however, I initially injured it bowling (for the love of God!) and then strained it some more last Thanksgiving running with the Kyle Pease Foundation (an amazing experience btw!)
Seen at the start in my corral: Pace Group 1:50 – If memory serves, there once was a pace group like this in my days gone by. I haven’t stalked those maniacs in a couple of years at least. Now, it’s interesting just to see those numbers in a row and that I am pretty sure they mean something fast.
Conversations: 2 – Run into a client at this moment and it’s fun to connect with him and share some cool stuff we are each experiencing. Recognizing another human being and focusing on the wonderful and interesting things that life brings — while the race essentially becomes just a backdrop — is an excellent way to set the tone for the day.
In the beginning: Pace Group 2:00 blazing by me in the first part of the race. These are my peeps many times and when they pass me, having started in a corral behind me, I feel jilted. No one even says hello!
Conversations: 381 – Daylight is arriving, which can be a very cold moment in a winter race. This morning, however, the weather is wonderful weather and there’s energy all over this crowd. Crossing a bridge overs an interstate, runners pull over to take selfies with the downtown skyline and emerging daytime in the background. There was a time when I would look at them and say WTF? Are you racing this thing? Are you calling your mom too?!? I see them differently now. They’re on their own journey today and loving this moment for themselves. I also love this moment because in creating their moments, they are creating their race as they recognizing.
I found a home: Pace Group 2:15 is a somewhat new group to me. I’m typically only here during long-course triathlons and by then, everyone is a wreck, so everyone in the group seems the same.. Not today!
Conversations: 249 – This is a cool place to hang out and get a completely different perspective on running and life and stuff. People are talking to each other and saying some interesting things. Some weird stuff too. (And there are a few of you who could use a success coach, let me tell you.) Everyone’s totally authentic, connected to their running buddies and to each other’s stories.
This is where I settle in for the duration. I find my place maybe a mile or two past the halfway point. This is where I belong today. From here I really have a chance to drink in the day. Now, I’m no Nietzsche superman — there are moments of past thinking and formulating bits and bites of this story. The Saboteur shows up a little now and then in the form of knee pain (See! You should’ve sat this one out!). Nonetheless, with my coaching mightiness, I get back in the race.
Because there are fewer spectators this year, it gives me a chance to really see those who do come out and participate from their curbs, lawns and front porches. They are not to be ignored and nor should they be. These really creative, thoughtful strangers, connecting randomly with all of us racers in amazing ways, are an important part of the race as they give out water and treats, motivation and support. Maybe some sympathy too for our crazy desire to give up warm beds and lazy mornings at 4:30AM.
I remind myself that slowing down isn’t necessarily stopping. Stopping is dying. Slowing down still has us propelling ourselves forward on some sort of growth path. I’ve run this race in either the 13.1 or 26.2 mile format every year since 2005. There haven’t been many changes, so even this year with a different last mile and finish line, there weren’t a lot of surprises. Atlanta is hilly. This course runs through Atlanta. This course is hilly. (My Vincentian philosophy instructors would be proud).
When I cross the finish line, my results show that I was more efficient this year, running just slightly over the distance because I was going slower. When you move faster, through crowded streets, you have to move sideways too. Sometimes you run farther to get there quicker. OK, that’s nuts.
I also saw and heard and smelled so much more than in any other race. Neighborhoods exhibiting wild growth and those with empty storefronts. Some say that’s not surprising, except that those in growth mode were in areas once avoided and those that were once the place for the cool kids looked a little tired and dirty.
I also realized that it’s time to get in the race. I’m not talking about the next race, I am talking about YOUR race. The race you run every day. You’re missing out. Splashing around in the shallow end of the pool yelling Marco Polo is not gonna do it for you. Pick a lane and start doing laps.
- Design YOUR race with you in mind
- Plans are good and executing them is better
- Connect with your journey along the way
- Feel free to adjust to the learning you are experiencing in your race.
- And…have fun!
You will get better and pick up speed along the way. I’m not saying go so fast that you will miss all the incredible things like I saw on my race. Going slow is still moving forward. Honor the forward movement that so many miss running sideways, fighting the crowd. OK, enough, You’ve got this, see ya later…gotta run.
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