There are plenty of running books out there, but one thing that’s a little short on the market is an entertaining romp through serious running results from an unserious process. There are serious runners writing seriously; there are unserious runners doing simple running unseriously and writing seroiusly or unseriously on the topic; but there are few unserious runners who have successfully turned out serious careers to be written of unseriously seriously.
Unfortunately, this book isn’t quite that either, which might just mean it’ll be more coherent than it sounds.
I’ve never been a professional, but (humblebragly, as they say these days; for the cred, yo, as they might have said 20 years ago and probably still have a version of) I have won a few races. These races may or may not have featured fewer than 200 participants each. I would look up the stats, but the effort required to figure out just how good I am simply isn’t worth it right now -- I’ll do that as I go through the story (also known as “when I get around to the research” or “not bloody likely”). Of course, the number of runners you’ve just crushed is never something to think about while you’re waiting for the slow ones to just hurry up and finish before you collect your trophy/medal/awesome gift certificate to a local restaurant; it only comes up when you’re reflecting on a race, or trying to justify your pure speed to some sucker who bought your book. (Kudos for your cunning if you checked this out of the library, or are reading it on a blog!)
Where was I? Oh yes, establishing my unimpeachable credentials at running. As a 20-something, I ran in a ton of races, hitting them every 2-4 weeks spring, summer, and fall. I ran snowshoe races. I ran trail races. I ran road races. I ran track races. Actually, I didn’t run track races because I thought they would bore me, but I’ve since run track races, and they do, indeed, bore me. I ran alone, with one or two others, and with small groups. I ran after running (and, transitively, also ran before running), ran on a whim in the middle of the day, ran because it was sunny or raining or snowing or cold or the wind sounded pretty cool. I’ve responded to the runner’s equivalent of a booty call...a boot call? I’ve responded to listserv requests for running partners, running route suggestions, and replacement runners for races.
Heading into my 30s, I became less competitive, because the place I moved to isn’t as conducive to that as the old college location. Oh, and the lifestyle thing, where I have actual responsibilities to others and can’t just tell my advisor that I’m “writing my thesis” and will have him a draft “soon”. That bought me peace of mind more times than I’d care to count in my 20s (and I’m sure my advisor both saw right through it and didn’t give two poops every time I used it). In my 30s, I’ve had to manage my time better and have come up with plenty more excuses for leaving work in the middle of the day or early or whenever I feel the need to get out. Unfortunately, those excuses don’t always work and sometimes lead to 4:30 a.m. runs that may or may not have involved bears or wolves stalking me. But we’ll get to those.
That isn’t to say I’m not a competitive runner anymore. I’m simply less competitive than I was, content to finish 6th in a field of 250+ rather than demanding 2nd or 3rd. To be fair, I’ve lately found myself drifting back more and more into competition mode, so maybe I am shooting for 2nd or 3rd. Unfortunately, a decade ago I didn’t time myself in many legitimately-distanced races. These days, a race that says “10K” is almost always a 10-kilometer USATF-certified course distance. I think most of the “10K”s I ran in grad school were somewhere between 9.5 and 11 km, sometimes with that little bonus distance thrown in just for good measure to make sure the runners were getting their money’s worth. Many of those 10ish km races also cost about 25 cents per kilometer, didn’t feature a swag bag full of advertisements, and maybe included up to 2 (!) aid stations, usually staffed by the race organizer and his or her family.
Different places, different times.
What was I on about? Oh yes, the introduction. You hold in your hand(s) or see on your screen(s) a book of running. A book of running anecdotes, tips & tricks. A book of extremely personal information about a guy whose picture you can find on the internet, if you do about 5 minutes of correlation e-stalking and figure out who I am. A book of perhaps inspirational stories that will maybe get you to lace up your shoes and hit the trails on a frigid winter morning instead of staying inside under the beautifully warm covers with your attractive bunkmate. If so, I’ve succeeded by failing you, so you deserve the punishment.
Next up: Fat Kid Running!
Mash out. Spin on.