Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Patience is a virtue.

Patience is a virtue that I needed on Labor Day. I ran the Cape Ann 25K, my longest race (or run, for that matter) since the Boston Marathon in April. I have had less time to train and more miles on the treadmill than I care for, so my training has been geared more for the 5K-10K distance.

But I ran this race a few years ago and loved the course; it runs around the perimeter of a peninsula with cute seaside towns, beaches, quaint homes, etc. And despite being close to the shore, it is notoriously hilly. Scott had the day off, which sealed the deal: I was going to race.

The race began and within a mile, I was packed tightly with three other women. We hauled along, patiently for the first mile and then quicker the next mile and quicker the next. I didn't want to chance running 13 miles by myself, so I hung with the quick ladies and hoped for the best.

At mile 4, one lady slowed down and lost contact with the pack. At mile 7, one lady stepped to the side of the road and dropped out. That left me leading and one other woman shadowing me. Way. Too. Close.

She kept clipping my heels, throwing out apologies occasionally. I understand a few clips of the heel, but I thought she would adjust her stride and give me more room. After all, we had the whole road to ourselves now.

The heel-clipping continued and I envisioned myself falling into the pavement and being unable to get up. I had been running hard for more than an hour, was feeling tired, my legs were tightening up, and the frequent stumbling was getting to me.

I moved to the side so she could go around me. She tucked herself behind me again. I slowed down. She stayed behind. I was annoyed.

In most long races, polite runners will take turns leading because it is more work than the "drafting" position. I was annoyed that she refused to lead, but it is a race and I respect that strategy too.

I do not, however, respect the trying-to-trip-your-opponent strategy.

Somewhere between miles 11-12, she clipped my heels for the umpteenth time and I lost my temper: "GET AHEAD OR GET OFF ME!"

I have never yelled at someone during a race and I rarely lose my temper, so I might have surprised myself more than her. As soon as it came out of my mouth, I thought about what a bad idea it is to make your opponent mad mid-race; she can use this against me!

I picked up the pace abruptly and opened a gap between us. I could hear people cheering her on in the last few miles, but still pulled out the victory in 1:42:38. The runner that slowed at mile 4 had a late surge and finished in second behind me, so the heel-clipper ended up in third. I scored some sweet prizes: a framed fine art photo of a sunset on Cape Ann, and supposedly some money will come in the mail.

My patient pace paid off, but I have some work to do with that virtue.

Thanks, Gloucester Times, for the photo.

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Blogger ellen said...

Don't mess.

8:58 PM  

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