I’d stayed in Friday night, I’d treated myself to a massage, I’d made pasta for dinner, I’d picked out the perfect neon racing getup and I was in bed before midnight for a generously late 9 a.m. race start. The stars were aligned for a new personal best.
By the time I’d laced up and stepped out into the 80-degree morning heat, I’d somewhat edited my initial goal. ‘Skip the PR,’ I said to my already sweating neon-clad self. ‘Let’s just work to beat last year’s time for this very same race.’
Three miles in, I was panting and chaffed and getting passed on all sides by older gentlemen with mustaches. I could almost hear my imaginary running instructor Coach Kenobi telling me a strong performance wasn’t in the cards. ‘This is not the race you’re looking for,’ he said.
So I opted to revise my end-game one more time: Beat the Burt Reynolds lookalike in the red tank top and jorts quickly gaining on the left. I hunkered down, picked up my speed and – with the help of an enthusiastic friend sprinting alongside me for the final stretch – was able to finally get up some 11th hour speed in that last quarter mile.
The fact that in the span of 45 minutes, I was forced to downgrade my race goal from a new PR to outpacing a 50-year-old man resembling Ron Burgundy should give you some good insider information on my final performance. That’s right, folks: I didn’t get a PR. I didn’t beat last year’s already disappointing race time. I didn’t win any medals, take home any prizes or earn the Citi Field ShackBurger I’m nonetheless planning to treat myself to in two hours’ time.
But you know what? I did cross the finish line ahead of Tom Selleck. And you know what else? As I made my way through the post-race water station to drown my embarrassment 8-ounces at a time, who do you think tapped me on the shoulder? None other than Mr. Facial Hair himself.
‘You really picked up speed there!’ he said. ‘I saw you pass me in that last stretch and decided to try to keep up. Thanks for pushing me to my strongest finish yet. I think I might have gotten a new PR!’
(In truth, the conversation was more strained breathing than anything else, but fortunately, I’m fluent in Fatiguese.)
So there you have it. When you write a blog about your own training and your own fitness and your own goldendoodle relatives, it’s sometimes easy to forget it isn’t all about you. Today just wasn’t my day, it turns out. It was Alan Trebek’s. And that’s aOK, because us runners are in this thing together.
What lesson did you learn today?