Oh dear. I’ve been meaning to write something meaningful in the last couple of days, but the words just wouldn’t come. So here it is; Saturday afternoon and I’m finally ready to get down to the business of running, or more specifically, writing about running.
Last Sunday’s trail race had left me understandably tired. But it was Sunday night’s lemon chiffon cake with extra frosting and some gluten-free beer and the white wine with my parents that really did me in. Delicious. But in all seriousness, Lemon Chiffon Cake with Extra Frosting, you are so dangerous! My goal for Monday was to flush out my legs with a conservative recovery run. No need to get all fancy, right? Just get the miles in a be done. My legs, however, had different plans. After a warm-up mile my quads told me to pick up the pace. Perhaps my quads run better on lemon cake? Maybe my glutes appreciated the gluten-free beer? I cannot guess, but the recovery run, slated to be a three-mile shuffle, turned into a quick eight-miler at a sub seven pace. Not too shabby, right?
So, I there I was, rolling down the riverfront, fueled on lemon frosting fumes, when I spotted another fast runner a few hundred meters ahead. He was fast. Not impossibly fast, but, you know, quick and runner-ly I studied him for a second and then… CLICK! My brain switched gears. The easy-run mode turned off and I was thrown into competitive-I-think-I-can-pass-this guy gear. (please tell me you do this too!) My shoulders straightened. My arms began to drive a little harder and my stride picked up accordingly. “I so have this guy,” I thought.
Then I did a double take.
I knew this guy. He looked very similar to one of the guys who works at the running store. As a quick aside I would like to add that I do not know ALL the runners in Portland. Nor am I acquainted with ALL the Portland running store employees. . . maybe just an important few. Anyway, I backed off a hair, and contemplated whether it was silly to try and pass the nice running store guy. The Competitive Heather in me threw that thought aside as ridiculous and urged my quads to quit dilly-dallying. So I ran to catch him.
Just as I was closing in on his shoulder, Runner Store Stan peeled off to the left and off the path. I wanted to shout: Come back! I was just about to catch you!
The Competitve Heather inside me frowned. She really wanted to pass him, poor girl.
I continued my run and reflected on how quickly that competitive attitude surfaced. I wouldn’t describe myself as such, but I recognize my stubbornly competitive traits: If there is a runner in front that I can probably pass, I’ll do it. If there’s a runner behind me that threatens to pass, I’ll speed up. During track practice, I try my hardest to stay with the fast group. Whatever the siutation, there is something inside me that feels obligated to prove that I’m not just out jogging. There is something that wants to show just how fast I can go. That competitive something doesn’t care that was Memorial Day, that I had raced the day before and that not everyone needs to prove themselves on EVERY run.