Just Do It.
It’s so cliché. And also… sometimes it’s pretty solid advice.
Running errands around the neighborhood, I keep seeing these signs for a local 5K. The first time I saw the sign, I thought, “I should look up that race.” And I promptly forgot the name of the race and the website. I slept some, and then it was gone. I saw some more signs today and thought, “Oh yeah, I meant to look up that race.”
It’s the Running Scared 5K.
This race has a lot of stuff arguing in its favor. It’s close to my house… technically I could walk to the start line. It’s in the evening. It is fall, maybe it will finally be cool outside. They are encouraging people to run in costume. That’s always fun. The course is very flat, always a bonus, and part of it goes through a graveyard. Haven’t you always wanted to run in a graveyard? There’s a non-competitive walking division. I looked up the results from last year. The very last place finisher came in at 1 hour 47 seconds. There were about 20 finishers in the 50-60 minute range. There are plenty of people to protect from coming in last place. And there’s a big Halloween party after the race. And the t-shirt… it’s blood-red, and it’s got this Skeleton dude running with little evil Pumpkins. Evil Pumpkins! On a shirt! It’s sounding better and better all the time.
So why wasn’t I signed up for this race two weeks ago? Well there was that sleeping-amnesia thing, that’s one thing for sure. But the other reason has to do with an odd mixture of laziness and the fact that I know I won’t run well. My time is going to suck. The last time I ran in a race was a year ago at Thanksgiving. That’s a long time ago, and I still remember how that race was a complete Suffer Fest. I’ve only been out to try to run a few times since I’ve moved, and I’ll be honest, it’s pretty miserable. Am I really gonna pay $25 for the privilege to suffer and feel ashamed of myself?
Last weekend I worked at a high school cross-country meet. I coached high school cross-country a few years ago, so I was anxious to work on the course for the meet our school was hosting. I really enjoyed being out there cheering for the runners again, despite the fact that I don’t know a single one of them. Those kids are fast. And then… There was a girl running way behind in the high school girls’ race. She was several minutes behind the last of the pack, slowly plugging away at it. The race was long over before she made it back to my location on her second lap. All of the family out supporting the other runners had left the side of the course… it was just her and me. I told her, “You run your own race. Keep at it. Stay strong. Finish this thing.”
Yeah. I can say that to somebody else, but me? In my head, the endless chatter goes – “You are not a runner – You never were a runner – You haven’t run any lately – This whole running phase is over, right? – Isn’t it just time to hang it up?” Yeah, I hear you Blerch.
Maybe, just maybe, if I still care about my time, that makes me still a runner? Can’t I just go to the race anyway, tell myself I’m gonna walk the whole thing, and have a good time? Isn’t this supposed to be fun? Why does this have to be another opportunity for self-flagellation? If I walk the whole thing– so what?? It’s a Halloween race. Walk it like a zombie coming back from the dead.
She’s not dead, she’s aliiiiiiive!
She’s only dead if she quits.
So me and the Blerch will be walking in the graveyard a week from Saturday.
The banner on the race website says, “Don’t be afraid to run.” Oh, okay… I’ll throw some running in there too, because you asked to nicely. I ain’t scared. Much.
Here’s my latest favorite Pump You Up song, “A Warrior’s Call” by Volbeat. It might be possible to sit still while listening to this song, but it’s probably dangerous to your health. Let’s get ready to rumble!
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