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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Racing vs. Running

Racing only exists, as I see it, when there's something besides myself to beat. My default position is to race against myself, so that doesn't count. Time doesn't really count either, since beating a time is really just running faster than I did before.

Now, it is weird. I used to be able to race, so it is funky just trying to survive. As I drop pounds, develop muscle, remind my lungs to work a little harder, racing will follow running.

How to race?
That's a profound question. Racing is philosophically different than merely looking to achieve a time. I wonder what Olympic level runners say would say. Which did/would he want most - Olympic medal, beat whomever is considered the champ, or get a world record?

I think part of racing presumes that which is being raced is in the race. The clock is not racing - it can't. People race. We race for a prize - even if that prize is just knowing I beat the other guy.

Racing too, means there's no guarantee I'll win. If I were to race Jim, what race is that? I run my tail off, he jogs, and I'm still five me behind. There must be some realistic shot at winning, but a reasonable possibility of losing. I'm thankful for age group competitions -- it evens out the score a little.

For the heavyset guys, the Clydesdale category keeps it more honest. I'm short and not especially heavy. Most guys at 6'0" 250 lbs haven't a fair chance, but he can beat other big guys.

Sometime soon, I'm hoping to be in a race, and realize there's something to beat - probably, just snagging the last age group award in a smaller race. Seems those 40-45 year-old guys aren't going to just give me a medal. But, when the time comes when I realize that my ability is potentially on par with that last guy (I check previous year's results), well, then, the gauntlet's off.

Hopefully, I'll 'race' this coming spring. At the moment, I'm itchy to see what improvement the last month has held. My last 5K was June 2. 78.13 miles (3.13 miles/day) since then, plus three of Jim's Thursday night butt kickings ought to have done something favorable.

At least, I hope so.

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