Fuck yes it was…and I was one of the last five people to cross the finish line. And you know how it felt? Fucking awesome. I was the last member of my relay team to run (you know, because I was going to be the fastest…or because no one wanted to run after the temperature rose for the day). Our team consisted of two sick people, a girl who was up all night drinking (happy birthday to her), someone training for an iron man, and me: the slowest runner on the team. Despite the future iron man runner, our team was a bit of a mess. By the time I got the baton/slap bracelet from Aileen, there were roughly 6 or 7 other teams about to have their last person run and everyone else running had finished the race. I took the “slow and steady” approach in finished it just in under 45 minutes and only a handful of people (3 or 4) between my finish time and dead last.
A few days later, I came across this article
discussing the shift in race times and increases in races that don’t even time runners. The gist of the article was that young runners are less competitive (because everyone got a trophy growing up), that races are becoming parades and not races, and that this will lead to the downfall of America (you know, because if you’re not a hyper competitive runner, you must be lazy and not care about anything).
I found this article hugely offensive. Yes, I am one of those young people who think it is good enough to finish a race and I don’t focus on my time that much (and when I do, it’s out of curiosity). I don’t want to be mistaken for trying to represent everyone who was given a trophy at the end of every sporting season. I do not think I am the voice of my generation or a voice of any generation (Trophy for you if you get the Girls reference here– not everyone who reads this article).
Yeah, I check my times out of curiosity. Yeah, it doesn’t bother me if I finish fifth from last or dead last in a race — as long as I finish. I don’t run to be the best. I don’t run to win races. I run because it makes me mentally and physically a more healthy person (and tires out my trouble-making, shoe chewing dog). Finishing that race, as slow as I ran it, felt amazing. Fucking amazing. Every time I ran up a hill, I told myself at the top of the hill, I could decide if I wanted to walk, but that I would make it up that hill first. And you know, I didn’t walk at all. I wasn’t running a race against the other relay teams. My competitor was that voice in my head telling me I was the fat kid in gym and that I should stop and just take up an art or music class instead.
The fact that I’m not a competitive runner isn’t some statement about attitude or work ethic overall. I am obnoxiously competitive. One time on a date, I wouldn’t agree to stop playing this video game until I had beaten the guy. Naturally, he threw the next round, which I didn’t let fly. I needed to genuinely beat him and I wasn’t going to stop until I had. (In case you’re wondering, it was a pretty bad date.) I also felt the need to beat two of my favorite Louisiana people in a pass/fail trial. I kept every and all evidence out that I could — not because it was bad for my case, but solely because I could. Could I have written a shitty brief for my pass/fail appellate advocacy class? Sure! But why would I when I could get the high pass or even an excellent?! Joni folded Chinos the best at Banana Republic? Not for long!! Drew makes a good mac-n-cheese? Well, clearly we need a cook-off to see whose is better!
I can go on forever.
The bottom-line is that I am fiercely competitive. I work my ass-off. I don’t think it’s a bad thing that I have accepted that I am not the best at absolutely everything. Yeah, I’m a slow runner and I’m not concerned about winning the races I sign up for. Instead, I focus on the cause that the race is fundraising for and other things (you know, like pass the bar or finding a job in my field). I have a huge ego (as much as I hate to admit I’m flawed) and it’s a nice reminder when I’m the slowest person at run club that I’m not invincible or that I’m not as awesome I as I think I am. Sometimes, we all need a reality check and Tuesday nights, I get mine.
Beyond that, waistlines are increasing, along with rates of diabetes. And why wouldn’t they be? Fast food is right around the corner and way more convenient than going to the grocery store. One way to curb potentially curb this is to make races, running, and exercise more accessible. Even if the color run is more of a parade than a race, if that is what motivates someone put on some sneaks and give it a shot, what’s wrong with that? There are plenty of races that foster the competitive spirit, if that’s what you want, and require what I consider unachievable qualifying times. But fun runs that encourage people to get out there, even if they aren’t fast, aren’t a bad thing.