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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Humbling moments

Andre Vandal, Flickr

I already knew that running is a humbling sport. It has been humbling me ever since I started. The first humbling realization was that my asthma would forever present itself as an obstacle. The second one was that injuries of all sorts await those who run regularly. The third one is that no one looks their best sweating, spitting, huffing and puffing, grimacing in pain. (That being said, I find that runners look GREAT when they're not running. They just have that healthy aura.)

Slowly but surely, I learned how to manage my weaknesses (and to ignore the way I look when I run), so that long distance running could become and remain part of my life.

Eventually, everyone in the family, including myself, started considering me as a "true runner". It inspired some to join in the fun. I could only rejoice that they would want to become runners too. The only thing, right from the start, they were running faster than me! D, who probably runs once a month, registered for a 10K... and ran it 2 minutes faster than me. I "blame" his long legs (he's 6'1''). R, who only runs when the game she's playing calls for it (e.g. tag), ran her first 5K only 1 minute slower than I ran my first 5K. Small detail, I was 33 years old at the time of my first 5K. She was 9 when she ran hers at the same pace. I "blame" good genes (her dad's most likely).

This weekend, after a summer of occasional, leisurely-paced 5K jogs, I ran a 10K race I obviously wasn't properly trained for. My last race dates back to a half-marathon in May. Crazy idea to register for a 10K race after a slacker summer, but I figured it would be a good way to get my motivation back up.

Considering my level of training, it went okay. I ran it in exactly an hour, and came 61st out of 175 in my category. Since I'm among the oldest of said category (women 30-39, and I'm 37), I thought well, that's acceptable I guess.

I did, however, have to face many humbling moments at that race, that put whatever extra self-esteem I had back in its place.

"This is torture, this is pain..."
Yep, that pretty much describes how I felt running that race.

Humbling moment # 1

Before the start of the race I saw a woman I know, who's lost A LOT of weight in the past couple years, and who slowly got in shape by the same token. I thought "She's gonna be running somewhere behind me, so after the turnabout halfway through the run, I'll look for her to encourage her." Strange thing, I did not see her. I kept staring at every woman I passed who had the same color of t-shirt, but she was nowhere to be found. I finally saw her a few minutes after finishing the race. I asked her how it had gone. And that's when I learned that she had run faster than me. Just by a minute, but still. All that time, she had been ahead of me! And stupid me had assumed that because she only recently got in shape, she would be behind. How presumptuous of me. Lesson well learned.

Humbling moment # 2

About 3 km from the end of the race, a man of about 65 years caught up with me, and we ran side by side for a while. I thought "Nice, I'll cross the finish line with him". But 1 km from the finish line, the bast*** sped up like crazy! As much as I tried, I was unable to keep up! He finished about a minute before me (probably alongside above-mentioned woman).

Humbling moment # 3

Retelling the "fast-running older guy" story to an acquaintance, later, I received the last blow. There was another older man next to us, who enquired "so, what was that 65-year old's finish time?" I said "Oh, just under the hour I would say". Glowing with pride, he proceeded to tell me "I finished in 50 minutes. I'm 75 years old."

I just stared at him, speechless, in utter admiration. When I regained composure, the first thing I told him was "You got to tell me what you eat!" He actually had a banana in one hand and a bottle of chocolate milk in the other, so I guess I'm gonna be putting that on my grocery list from now on!

Before saying goodbye, I told him "Well, I still have almost 40 years to catch up to you! Maybe if I train hard enough..."

Of to some training now!!! I obviously need it!

Any humbling moment(s) you want to share with us?

Great race-starting tune. Gives me a high every time.


  1. You did pretty well for not training! 10K's are real races. To run them well takes a lot of effort.

    When I was in college and running the 100 and 200 meter I ran a very poor time in one meet. To "punish" myself (and this was before I became a distance runner) I ran the mile at the end of the meet. Not only did I finish last, was lapped by the winner, but the crowd "cheered" as I finished :-(

    Does that qualify :-)

    1. You were "punished" twice! Ouch! But those experiences make who we are. :-)

  2. Your race-starting tune reminded me of TOP GUN music (Highway to the Danger Zone et al). That's energizing too!

    1. I have the whole Top Gun soundtrack on my playlist... :-)

  3. Hooray for getting up (probably early) and running the race and finishing!!! Even with the humbling experiences, you still did great!!!

    1. Getting up at 5:30 on a Saturday is an accomplishment in itself I guess... ;-)

      I know your daily accomplishments are just as impressive, Kim!!!

  4. Well, you asked...


  5. Humbling moments really shape who we are as people, and I love them - even if they're a little embarrassing! ;)

  6. Oh yes, running has a way of knocking us down from our pedestals. And don't even get me started on race pictures! I'd say 99% of my race pictures are flat-out AWFUL! The expressions on my face are hilariously pained, and I run with what I affectionately call T-Rex arms. I start getting tight in my shoulders and my arms creep up and voila, T-Rex! But KUDOS for getting out there and racing after a long hiatus. You're not going to PR every race, especially when you're not in top shape. So just think of it as a hard training run and 6.2 miles toward peak running form! One positive to slower races or unmet goals is the way they motivate us to train harder and get after the next event!

    There are several amazing runners in our track club who are still putting up amazing times well into their 60s, 70s, and even 80s! One of the women, who is now well into her 80s, drinks chocolate milk with a shot of cherry juice after every run. She swears by it! On Saturday I ran a punishing, hilly 15-mile trail race. A young lad, who celebrated his 74th (!!!) birthday on race day, finished in a very respectable time. Absolutely AMAZING!!

    1. I knew you would have a lot to say about this Nicole! :-) So true about the running pictures. I have ONE that looks nice. I framed it. :-)

      Those older runners are truly an inspiration.

  7. My hat's off to you! I am a walker and a swimmer. After not swimming for a couple of months, I got back in the pool and managed to swim for a mere 10 minutes before giving up in exhaustion. I kinda slunk out of the pool and wondered what in the world the life guard must be thinking....

    On the other hand, I walked to the Farmer's Market (10 blocks) this weekend and overshot my target by several blocks until I realized I had walked right by it. Must've been 'in the zone.' Coming back with the basket loaded was a bit more work but I got in a good workout that day!

    1. Haha, you remind me of a time I decided to impress the lifeguard with my newly mastered butterfly... (was a teenager)... I got a terrible cramp in the calf and had to stop halfway through a lap... got out of the pool and could not even walk it hurt so bad!!!

      All that walking is great! And being in the zone even better! :-)

  8. My life is a SERIES of humbling moments! But I have the sense given my slow pace and frail ego to just do solo runs rather than put myself in competitive situations--that way I can daydream that I'm running at a blistering pace no matter how pokey I am.

    Works for me! :)

    1. Haha, you crack me up. Good strategy though. Illusions can feel wonderful. ;-)