I’ve long known that a lot of things in life are better with a buddy (See: spooning, wheel-barrow races and porterhouse steaks) and as of this weekend, I can add one more to the list: racing.
A bit of a lone wolf when it comes to my running routine, I rarely log training miles with a partner, and when it comes to actual races, you and Orphan Annie can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be crossing the start and finish lines alone. Racing solo has never been an intentional decision, but doing otherwise demands the unlikely probability of finding a friend with the same race goals who is registered for the same race who actually wants to run with you. With just a handful of running friends in the city, the racing-buddy stars had not yet aligned for me, leaving me to complete every race in my brief running career to date satisfied and proud but utterly alone.
A speed demon with a sub-21:40 5K PR under his belt, Adam honestly should not have signed on to run with me at Saturday’s Scotland Run 10K. But coming off some injuries and wisely opting to take his first NYRR event in moderation, he agreed to keep me company as I ran my second Central Park road race in as many weeks.
And it couldn’t have been more awesome. Although we probably could have run a bit faster if we weren’t exerting so much energy chatting the first three miles, I’d wager the benefits of racing with a partner far outweighed the negatives, at least for me. (Adam, I’m not sure what you got out of this partnership besides my leftover bagel, but let’s pretend the benefits were mutual.)
Usually, when I feel tired during a race, I slow down. On Saturday, when I felt tired, I slowed down, Adam charged ahead and I had to spend the next mile catching up – keeping me on course to meet my pace target, which would have been well out of reach if I’d slowed down on my own. Likewise, when Adam sprinted ahead in the final stretch, I may not have been able to keep up, but seeing him pull ahead lit a fire – albeit a smaller one – under my feet, too. With the added motivation of a running companion, I was able to slice a full 1:48 off my last 10K time, earning me a solid new PR of 50:58. Not quite as impressive as Adam’s 50:27, but I’ll take it.
Hey New Yorkers, anyone else down for some non-solo miles? Like Adam, you might also walk away with a fancy keepsake like half a gnawed on bagel. Tempting, I know.