You Had Me At “You’re Awesome”

To the lady I beat at yesterday’s trail race:

I didn’t like you from the first half-mile. You were ahead of me, and I could tell you were in my age group. To make matters worse, you were ahead of me and you were walking and running, and still staying ahead of me, while I was running.

That kind of thing burns my turkey bacon. I hate being beaten by someone I perceive as deserving to be behind me. So I resolved to keep up my pace, even though I considered this more of a training run to prepare for a 10K trail run in a few weeks.

The day was clear and cold. The race crowd was small, and the setting was a familiar one for me. It’s the trails where I train regularly. But my sights were set on getting past you. Rocks, roots, ruts, and other hazards are damned to the wayside. And by the start of the third mile, I passed you. You were walking more and running less at that point, but I had already set my sights on the next runner ahead of both of us. I ran a fast final mile (for me), but not enough to get by the gal in green shorts. But I accomplished passing you, and I wasn’t mad anymore.

I checked my clock time, picked up my medal, and looked over the post-race snack table, finding nothing I wanted to eat. No podium finish here, so no reason not to head to my car and take care of the chores I had to do. Then I hear a voice behind me:

“You were AWESOME!”

It was YOU.

You were complimentary about my running style and my steady pace. I don’t know about style, but I do know that while fast wins a race, a steady pace finishes what you start. We’re not all speed racers, but we can all start and end strong if we maintain forward progress, challenge ourselves to expand our comfort zone, risk some pain, and target someone better than ourselves by saying, “I can do this as well, and maybe better than you. Watch this.”

We chatted a bit about past races and parted, not as friends, but as newly acquainted members of the running community. I know I will see her again, and I won’t hesitate to run past her.

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