Jay's Random Ramblings
A RUNNER FOR LONGER THAN I HAVEN’T
Long ago, I came to the realization that if I was going to enjoy running and find fulfillment in it, it would have to be for reasons other than fast times. Not only would I never win a race or for that matter, win my age group, I was never going to post stats that would engender the slightest bit of awe from my running contemporaries. I was the quintessential ‘middle of the pack’ racer…at best.
This point was cruelly driven home to me years ago while living in New Hampshire. There was a 10K being held in the town in which I lived so naturally, I planned on running. There was no pre-registration so I got there about an hour before the start to sign up. I filled out the app while staring at a table full of trophies and plaques and when I handed over the form with my fee, I was told that so far, I was the only registered runner. My losing streak was soon coming to an end, thought I. Not only was I going to win this bad boy, I was going to set the course record as it was the inaugural run. The lead vehicle was going to be leading ME! Gabriel, blow your horn, this dog would have his day!
Well, as it turns out, a few others showed up and as we toed the starting line, there were 19 registered runners out for glory. Maybe I wouldn’t actually win but as the age group hardware went 3 deep, I was feelin’ good! Flying along the course, I gave it everything I had for fear that letting up even a little bit could mean the difference between first and second in my age group. There’s no ‘dog’ in this mud turtle so I kept the hammer down.
I finished 5th overall, 4th in my age group. FOURTH IN MY AGE GROUP!!! The fact that there were only 4 people in my age group also meant that I came in LAST IN MY AGE GROUP! Every single person in that race got some form of award except me. At the end of the awards ceremony, there were trophies left over yet there I stood empty handed. The organizers felt bad for me so they offered to give me the unclaimed award for ladies 50-60, 3rd place. I declined but darned if I didn’t think about it. It was at this singular moment that I knew that awards and yours truly were never destined to meet.
A couple of years ago, a fact came to mind that practically stopped me in my tracks. I determined that based on the day and year I started “jogging” (don’t you hate that term?), I have been running for more than half my life. In other words, I’ve been a runner longer than I haven’t. While never having attained any level of success based on race results, I’d excelled in perhaps the most difficult category in which to succeed, longevity. There’s irony for you; in a sport where every standard is based on how fast you can finish, I’d succeeded by NOT finishing, at least not yet.
In retrospect, after almost 39 years of being a runner, I wouldn’t trade that longevity for all the trophies in the world. Sure, it would be nice to toss out some impressive PR’s while talking about my career but right, being able to say I’ve been a runner longer than I haven’t is all the bragging I need.