You're Gonna Do What Now?

I don't think that I am a competitive person — at least not competitive with other people. I am always challenging myself by attempting to reach the limits of what I think I am capable of doing. I'll even say that I am often trying to exceed what others may expect of me. But I know that I am not as fast as most runners out there (although I am trying to be) and I know that my speed is only impressive when compared to where I began. It's a steady process of improvement.

And here comes the BUT... If we are 25+ miles into a race and you tell me (read: our group of 4) as we politely pass you that (and I loosely quote): "I'm going to catch up to you guys and pass you." Well then sir, that sounds like a challenge (read: threat). At this point, I have been running through mud for 6.5+ hours, have less than 5 miles to go and you sir, are going to tell me that you are "going to pass us" as we are PASSING YOU!

This story does however begin a lot earlier. Allow me to backtrack — about 9 miles into our Ultra Marathon, we passed this gentleman (in his early to mid 20's) who looked like he was struggling a bit. Our group being very supportive and easy going, typically give a "good job" or a "keep it up, you look great" to people we come across. That's just the nice people we are out there. We are the "wavers." So as we passed him, he asked: "How far up the aid station was?" We guessed it was within 3 miles. When we got to the aid station, he wasn't too far behind us and caught up. We traded pleasantries and refilled our water bottles and continued on. Eventually he must have had a speed burst (or we slowed down) because he ended up catching up and passing us. It was a surprise to me because I felt like we were on a steady consistent pace, but cheers to him. Further down the race, we ended up coming across him again and passed him. It was like a little version of leap frog across muddy trails.

Here is where the story changes and where I was at earlier on: We were at the final aid station with less then 5 miles to go. We were again filling up our water bottles and grabbing our last fill of trail mix, etc. As we were beginning to move, we passed our friend again who seemed to be struggling with his lower extremities (knees, legs, I couldn't tell). We again gave our "cheers" and as we passed he says: (what I loosely quoted earlier): "I'm going to catch up to you guys and pass you." It was with a smile and in good nature and was meant in no way a negative thing, but something in my brain said: "Oh, hell no!"

We stayed on our normal speed, which for this course was about a 14 min. per mile pace. We came to a point where Chris' watch, Miriam, said it was time for a walk break. (yes, we took walk breaks. Moving on!) Chris' says: "Walking" and I respond with a (loose quote) "No! We are running this and not getting passed up, AGAIN." So we picked up the speed and the next mile and a half were run at a 10 min. pace. Yes, from mile 25.5 to mile 27, we clocked a 10 min. pace. That's a four to five min. per mile improvement on our avg. for the first 6.5+ hours! It was a downhill part of the section and yes, we were finally on some pavement and solid road where we didn't have to worry about the muddy slip and slide. But mostly, I didn't want this guy to beat us. Chris took off for the rest of the 5 miles because he is a stud and is super fast. Larry was next with me drafting him and pushing his pace. Lori, who is one of the strongest runners in our group and our coach, was coasting a few steps behind us. Larry kept turning his head to check on Lori, but I knew where she was and with very few words said (Larry's quote): "She's fine. Keep running." But Larry says it with a flurry, which I think is sort of an embellishment. Of course I was behind him giving him a hard time and telling him to run faster and I might have made a joke or two about him being slow (which is funny because he is a good 30 mins. faster than me in 26.2). LOL.

Looking back, those 15 mins. made the race for me. We finally hit a segment where we could stretch our legs and run as fast as we could 6.5+ hours into a race and be in the moment of running in the woods. The sky was clear, no mud, we had been up and over the mountains, I fell, we went crazy for awhile and for a small portion of the course, it was like we were alone on the side of a mountain cruising at our own pace.

We ended up breaking enough of a lead on our friend in those next 15 mins., that we were able to have a nice easy pace the last 2+ miles and cruise in comfortably. Although I kept checking behind us to make sure he was nowhere in sight and Lori kept laughing at me, I still think that was my favorite part of the entire race.


Stephanie said...

That made me laugh! I would do the same thing if someone had said that to me. I am not be out there competing against other runners, but once you tell me you are going to catch up and pass me...well sir, game on!

Good Job!!!

Paige said...

Love it! Thanks for sharing that story - know I will think of it next time I'm "playing tag" in a race!!! Too funny.

Anonymous said...

Great story made me laugh and yeah you are a little competitive!