Runner maturity, Part II

I've titled this race report "runner maturity" since it's a concept that I've been kicking around my head lately. I don't know if there is another term for this out there or if it is already an established idea that I'm only now coming onto, but what I'm calling runner maturity is basically the idea is that as you get further along into your running career your focus and outlook on the sport change (generally) from quantitative goals (time, pace, distance) to qualitative ones (enjoyment, course, race experience). It could all be hogwash, but this is what I've seen in myself.

I bring this up now because on paper I had an average race in Manchester: I ran the entire way, but I didn't set a new PR, I didn't place well in my age group (I was 11 of 15), and I didn't place well compared to previous races (top 41% vs. top 30% in Fairfield). But when I finished the race I was ecstatic. Why?

Well, for starters, I got through the stitch. I didn't let it stop me and I was able to run with it for the entire second half of the race. Then there were the hills. I've never experienced hills like that before--actually I can't even duplicate those hills around here. The fact that I got through the hills without stopping is pretty impressive. Third, there was the rain, which I've always constantly avoided, but found pretty helpful during the race. Fourth, I didn't have to poop during the race, which is always good.

So even though I didn't do well on paper, there were plenty of challenges other than speed that I overcame during this race.

Also, I was proud that I was able to allow myself to run this race without a time goal and to really let myself enjoy the race for once. It took a lot of stress off my shoulders--stress that was replaced by the stitch, the hills, etc. I took the first half at a comfortable pace and tried to keep it slow and take in the Vermontiness of the place (if the weather was clear I'm sure the vistas would have been amazing).

One other thing I'd like to note is that I think I've become a small race convert. At first I was a little put off by the size of the field: 230 runners. I thought that there wouldn't be appropriate race support, that there would be a lack of the amenities that I've gotten used to (food at the finish line, Gatorade along the course, medals, etc.), and that it just wouldn't be worth the hassle to sign up for the race. But the Maple Leaf people, they got it right.

There was no line to pick up my race number when I got to the tent and the people there were really nice and helpful. On race day there was plenty of parking within easy walking distance of the starting line. There was a blissfully low ratio of people to port-o-potties. Along the course there were volunteers at every single intersection. The water stations were well-manned and stocked with Gatorade (as opposed to all those bigger races that put out some funky knock-off because it paid for the race sponsorship). Even the cars that we were sharing the road with were respectful and would slow down or stop, waiting for us to pass.

At the finish line even though the crowd was incredibly small it was a loud bunch. They made it a point to call out your name over the PA system when you crossed the finish line (that's only happened to me once before, and they called out my race number, not my name). And at the finish line I was surprised to get the nicest medal (OK, second nicest, after Disney) that I've ever gotten: it was hand blown blue glass stamped with the race logo. Then, I found a post-race breakfast spread that was huge, delicious, included Ben & Jerry's, and absolutely barren of any line.

It was all wonderful. Actually, I think some of the other races I've run (ahem, Fairfield) could learn a lesson or two from the Maple Leaf people. If anyone from Manchester is reading, here's one grateful runner:

(OK, so the sun was in my eyes, but I really am happy in this picture.)


Jess said...

It sounds like a great race and I'm glad you enjoyed it so much!

CyclingDivas said...

nice medal

Marcy said...

Dude you did awesome! And yes not having to take a dump is ALWAYS a positive (at least in my books LOL) I'm glad you liked it, homie! ;D

Amanda said...

Maybe it's that we are getting older and thus just appreciating things more and dealing with the hurdles...or maybe it's that we've settled in to our running, hard to say.

Nitmos said...

Yep, you had a great race. You had fun! And you dealt with hills and chills (i.e. stitches but it doesn't rhyme with hills). I'd say that is a successful race. I like both large and smallraces for different reasons. No need to pick. Chose a healthy does of both.

The Laminator said...

Loved the picture. That medal does look really cool. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I agree...small races are quite different from large ones; each have their good and bad. I remember my smallest half fondly (NJ Half) and I'm sure you'll remember your small one in the same manner. Congrats.

Laura said...

THERE WAS BEN & JERRY'S?! Hey race organizers - you need to advertise that more prominently so us icecream-hungry runners will have to come!

I became a small race enthusiast after Wyoming - will have to look for this one next year.