mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

On the run, or can something be worth doing, but not worth doing well?

Today I "ran" my second road race, the Baltimore 10 miler. My first one was the Baltimore half-marathon last fall. I signed up mostly on a whim, after a friend mentioned that it was something I might want to do. I figured it would be a good test to see how in shape I was.

The answer was not very - I finished, but way in the back. I didn't do any real training beyond my normal workouts, though, so it shouldn't have surprised me that I did poorly. I figured I'd try to do some actual training for next year's half, but when I saw the 10-miler I figured I'd sign up for that too.

I was planning on doing some actual training, but laziness and life got in the way, and besides a couple weeks of adding an extra 15 minutes of time late at night on my basement treadmill, I didn't do much. So it's not exactly a surprise that I did pretty badly today - my time was 2:10:03 - which puts me in 306th place out of the 318 men 30-34 who finished the race. Which is pretty sad. People have commented that "at least you finished", but that seems like setting one's standards too low, like being proud that you graduated high school with a 1.3 GPA.

I suspect at least part of this is statistics - if you are a numbers/stats nerd, the results page is incredibly interesting. One thing that's obvious - both from the page and from observing the race - is there are way more women than men. It's also interesting that there are way more women who are what I'd consider "casual" runners than there are men - the back of the race where I was was almost all women (note to self: come up with some running pickup lines). Yes, I realize women tend to be slower at races (the top male finisher was about 10 minutes ahead of the top female) but it seems like not only do fewer men run, but the ones who do tend to be pretty good.

But there is something to be said about finishing, and there is something to be said about me finishing. After all, it's fair to say that, say, 7 years ago, when I was about 100 pounds heavier, I would not have been able to finish a 10 mile race. In fact, I probably would have had trouble walking from the parking lot to the starting line. There is at least some personal accomplishment in finishing, even with a time as bad as mine.

And that's what makes road races kind of interesting - you aren't just competing against other people, but against yourself - against your previous time. I feel like unless I'm pretty much willing to quit my job and do nothing but train, I'm probably never going to be anywhere but at the back of the pack. But I also feel that if I train a little more and push myself a little harder, I can at least shave a few minutes off my time, and I suppose that will have to be good enough. I'm kind of a competitive person, and I usually do pretty well at things I do, so realizing that there are things I'm not very good at is kind of depressing - which is kind of silly, since there are clearly plenty of things, from football to poker, that I'm pretty sure I'm never going to be competitive at.

But there is something appealing about road races, as a way of seeing what you are capable of. It's also an interesting thing to be a part of - to see people cheering (favorite sign of the day: "Go random stranger, go!), to do something that at least some people -including the old me - aren't capable of.

Plus, I get a stylish vest out of it - perfect for those times when my chest is cold but my arms aren't!


Post a Comment

<< Home