I just completed reading a wholly inspirational book, ‘Your Pace or Mine, by Lisa Jackson which i picked up rather randomly as i mooched around in one of the local bookshops.
Lisa describes herself as a slow runner who’s not afraid to come last – in fact the book’s blurb announces that she has done so in about 20 of the, probably 100 by now, marathons she has run in. She has also run ultramarathons and only started running when she was 31 – what an inspirational story.
I was expecting a light read, an occasional laugh, i wasn’t expecting to be inspired but inspired i was. You see community life happens at the back end of races, individual life happens at the front end. Both are wonderful, both should be aclaimed but what makes ‘Your Pace or Mine’ so special is that no one, at least no one i had encountered, had described the community life of racing before or as well. A lot more communication occurs near the back, a lot more personal relationships are forged and a lot more suffering is shared, both suffering during the race and suffering which has inspired the runner to compete in the first place.
Me, i’m a middle of the pack type of runner and probably miss out on the extra benefits of both extremes. I usually finish in or around the middle at about the half-way mark of times recorded.
I ran one of my favourite road races on Sunday, the Terenure 5 Mile, on a sunny hot morning around the local streets.
I’d decided to try and run it in 45 minutes which would mean substaining my 5k pace for 8k – a nice little challenge. An added benefit for me was that the race headquarters this year was in the girl’s school, Our Lady’s School, which made it a little bit more special for me. I cycled over, having remembered to wear a watch this race and ambled around, queueing for the loo, listening to the music, doing a few warm-ups in Terenure College’s rugby pitch and generally soaking up the atmosphere. So much fun and we hadn’t even started running yet. I placed myself a little back from the 45 minute pacers – what a great idea pacers – especially for someone like me whose ability to use a watch is limited to telling the time.
And we were off.
Heading towards Terenure village, veering left to the KCR and left again up through Templeogue. I was a bit stiff and sore in many places but soon loosened up – bit of an ARSE i’m afraid, Age Related Stiffness Everywhere. Never mind, i’m still running.
I tried of bit of running meditation as recommended by Sri Chinmoy and it seemed to help a lot. I had woken up feeling a bit out of sorts and knew i was suffering from some virus or other. The meditation certainly helped, i zoned out and didn’t feel the aches and pains. Next thing i knew we were passing Bushy Park again and onto the second, shorter lap. Here’s to whoever designed the race with the second lap shorter – what a great mental boost.
Into Terenure village again, left again and soon there was the 4 mile marker. Quick check of my watch, pretty much on time for a 45 minute time but the pacers were starting to distance themselves from me. Did i have the stamina to hold that pace for the next mile?
The answer was yes, i was too tired to meditate but the crowd kept me going. All the little kids out high-fiving and all the cheers dug me out an extra burst of energy and i managed to sprint the last 50m or so, passing out three or four runners in the process.
Grabbed a bottle of water, poured half it over my head and supped away at the other half – bliss indeed. I wasn’t entirely sure of my time as the race had started early and i had taken a while to get to the start line but it was soon confirmed, 44 minutes and 57 seconds – three glorious seconds to spare – no problem.
Back to Our Lady’s School for an extra strong cup of tea – two teabags – no expense spared – and a feast of such goodies as you would have to see to believe.
By then i was shivering, in spite of the heat, home for a hot shower and warm clothes – pretty happy with the day.
I had come in 884th out of 1394 particpants, in the middle bulge i guess. The fasted time was 23.33, not far off half the time it took me. The slowest time was 1:17:34 but some people walked the race.
Thanks to Lisa, and ‘Your Pace or Mine’ i do not fear slowing down with age – both of which are as inevitable as taxes and death are reported to be.
If anything, i look forward to the increased cameraderie of the slower half of races as my efforts to wring greater responses from these aging muscles finally accepts the inevitable. Perhaps, like Lisa, i will start to run in fancy dress, secure in the knowledge that one’s best is not always measured in hours:minutes:and seconds, even in a race.
If you are afraid of running, of racing, of having a wonderful time completing, or even starting, 5ks, 10ks, half-marathons or more, read Lisa’s book and open yourself to the wonders of running. Read the stories of the brave souls Lisa encounters as she clocks up the miles and transform yourself into one of those warriors.
Once you have conquered your outer body, give some thought to your inner self and get hold of Sri Chinmoy’s ‘Sport and Meditation’ as a good place to start.
Happy running my friends.