Leprechaun Leap 5k
Why do you race?
A race is by definition:
A competition between runners, horses, vehicles, boats, etc., to see which is the fastest in covering a set course.
Compete with another or others to see who is fastest at covering a set course or achieving an objective.
I think runners run in road races for many reasons. A race is a competition. For a small group of runners the competition is for 1st place overall. This would include elite runners and typically the best runners in a geographic area. Another larger group of runners compete for the age group awards. The competition for these awards varies greatly. At some races it is very difficult to place in your age group and at other races just finishing with a half way decent time is enough to place. If you are not fast enough to compete for awards then runners can still be competitive by competing against friends or competing against themselves by improving their time at a particular distance or on a particular course.
So now that I have explained racing...Why do you race? What if I told you that you would place 6th overall and 1st in your age group at your next race? Would you consider that event a success? Would you need me to tell you what your time was? If so...would you care?
Runners can be funny people. Yesterday I ran in the Leprechaun Leap 5k in Nashua, New Hampshire. This is the third week in a row that I have raced. As I mentioned last week, I am really excited about getting back to racing in 2013. I did not know very much about this event but I chose this race due to the close proximity to my house. Unfortunately I woke up on Sunday morning not feeling at the top of my game. On Saturday night I attended a surprise 40th birthday party for a friend of mine in Worcester, MA. For all of those Seinfeld fans I will describe what happened as.. I went to the party and yada...yada...yada... I did not feel great on Sunday morning. I struggled to the start line with basically no warm-up. Since I didn't know much about the event I was unpleasantly surprised to be greeted with tough hills on both the 1st and 2nd miles. The third mile was mostly flat with a good downhill but the damage had already been done. As you would expect I had no "zip" in my legs and the entire race was a struggle. My splits were 643, 704, 641 with a finish time of 20:56. Now normally I should have been just under 20 minutes on a tough course like this so I was not happy with my time. In addition last week I ran 20:18 and thought I had a bad race. The big surprise came with due to the small field (115 runners) I ended up finishing 6th overall and 1st in my age group and won a medal.
Now as I analyze the results I had no chance to win the overall race even if I ran my PR so 1st place in my age group was the best possible result. In addition the course was hilly so even if I was in great shape I would never be able to PR on this course so that wasn't an option either. So the question is...Why do you race? Do you race to win? If my best possible result was achieved why should I care what my time was? Would I be happier if I PR at an event and finish 10th in my age group and win nothing? I guess it really depends on why you enter events. Placing overall in an event is not realistic for me so placing in my age group is the best I can do. In my opinion if I end up getting an "ugly" win it is still better than not placing at all.
At the end of the day we are all trying to improve our race times and winning a meaningless age group medal doesn't make my time any better. Even though that is true, I do strive to place in my age group at every event. Whether you believe medals/trophies are meaningless or not, running is our sport and that is what symbolizes success at an event. I don't know about you but I like be called up to receive an award. Why would I cry about my time and downplay my award? I showed up, ran the race, and reaped the rewards...case closed.
I have met a lot of people that never seem to be happy with their race times. No matter what success they achieve they are always upset and claim they should have done better. I am going to make sure that person is not me in 2013. I plan on entering 25-40 events this year and guess what...I am going to have some good ones and I am going to have some bad ones...If you race a lot that is the reality. I only hope that regardless of my race times I get a chance to win more medals! See you out there!