Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Running with the fast crowd

Today's run: (treadmill) 25 minutes

During Sunday's race I was passed quickly by a group of high school-aged boys near the one mile point of the course. This group turned left soon after they passed me and followed the signs for the 5K route. It didn't occur to me until today that those boys had probably started five minutes after me (the 5K start followed the 10K start) and had covered the same distance in almost half the time.

I'll never be a 5:00 miler so it is rare that I would have an experience racing with them. I usually start mid-pack and end up there at the finish. Last year in Long Beach I started near the front and was puzzled by the frenzy of runners who overtook me so quickly. I wondered why I was running so slow. It wasn't until I passed the first mile clock at 8:05 that I realized I was comparing my performance to runners who might end up winning the race or their age division.

There really are multiple races within any race. The people up front are locked into an almost constant sprint, all hoping to finish first. The middle packers, like me, are hoping to do better than last time and considering it a victory when we pass more people than we are passed ourselves. Those in the back of the pack are often working the hardest. Completing a 10K, or even a 5K is no trivial thing. To many of them, the race is to finish, perhaps within a goal time.

I'm on the fence whether I'll start near the front of the line at Sunday's Turkey Trot like I did last year. They didn't have a chip sensor at the start so those closest to the front had the smallest gap between gun and net time. I don't want to get in anyone's way, but I do like the idea of being swept along by the speediest runners. A high tide lifts all boats. And I could certainly use the lift.

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