Friday, January 16, 2009

To pass or not to pass?

The one thing I have learned since I have started running regularly (roughly four years) is that the more you get into the sport, the more competitive you get. I don't know if everyone is like me, but when I'm out on a run and I see another runner, I feel the need to PASS.

(Or, in the very least if passing isn't an option (read: that runner is WAY faster than me) try to keep up with them. )

Now we all know the stipulations involving passing another runner.
1. It's completely acceptable as long as you don't do something rude like, look at them and smile that Grinch-like grin that says not-so-discreetly "You're really slow and you better move out of my way while you EAT MY DUST." (This happened to me once with a "friend" who can be credited as "My Running Nemesis" to this day and who definitely did NOT eat my dust that day. Serious pride injury.)
2. You make sure you don't come up so close behind them that you literally scare them off of their feet (this is acceptable if you're passing one of those annoying old ladies walking their lap dogs South of Broad yapping on their cell phones who won't ever move out of the way).
3. But the number one thing every runner has to consider before passing is, am I passing because I feel the need to show them I think I am faster, or do I actually NEED to pass them because I am faster?

Because friends, let me tell you, if your reasoning for passing another runner is the former, you could be in for a long sprint race after you do the deed.

A few nights ago I was running the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston. The base is about half a mile from my work, and getting off around 5:30 I just change there and go for the about 5.5 mile run over and back to my car before heading home.

Right now I'm still trying to recover from the holidays and from starting a new job last week, so my running schedule is a bit - off. I'm not as in shape as I should be and running this ginormous hill is not as easy as it used to be. But I'm slated to run a marathon (my first!) on May 2nd so I'm trying to amp up my training to actually start my training, if that makes any sense.

Anyways I'm not the fastest right now.

Long story short, after I've already went all the way over, and am on my way back almost to the peak where I start to descend to the base, I see this girl in front of me. She's about my age, carrying a Gatorade or something, and by the way she's dressed it looks like shes more of a "recreational" runner (because clearly my running tights and fancy Nike pullover make me a pro). She's running a little bit slower than me and as I continue to climb I realize that I must pass.

So, I do.

Now, I'm not wearing my iPod so I can hear her running not too far behind me, so I start to pick it up. It's only downhill, right? That's easy, I can keep this up for a while. I only have about a mile left.

She obviously is very similar to me, and no matter how slowish she was running, she did NOT like to be passed. Because by the sound of her Gatorade flip flopping up and down she was sprinting to keep up and even possibly, pass me back.

Oh, the pass back. This has to be the most humiliating thing for a runner. It's basically just saying, oh yeah you THOUGHT you were faster than me, but guess what? YOU CAN"T KEEP UP THE PACE SO I'M FORCED TO TAKE BACK MY RIGHTFUL POSITION AHEAD OF YOU. Then you inevitably slink back in shame and hate that person until they've run so far ahead you can no longer see them. I usually hate myself almost as much at that point...

So in a desperate and glute-aching fog I did what I had to do to avoid the pass back. I sprinted. I sprinted all the way down that hill and I did all I could not to tumble over. I was basically grasping for air, hoping that my legs wouldn't give out beneath me, and more importantly, hoping that I wouldn't get completely embarrassed with a pass back.

After a few minutes I started to tune out everything else, and so by the time I came to and got to my car, the girl's Gatorade flopping sound was gone. HA! I had won!!

I never did turn around to actually confirm she was behind me, but I guess that's not what really matters (besides, we all know that turning around is a no no, that's like admitting that we're worried someone is about to pass us, and we're not worried, right?).

So to this girl, whoever you are, if you were really trying to pass me back, thanks for getting me sprinting that night. Because I have been sore for two whole days because of it.

On to the training!

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