I have noticed that many a newbie runner is often scared by the idea of the organized race.
I don't blame them.
For me, personally, the word conjures up nightmarish memories of athletics trials in high school.
I wasn't the best athlete.
But I also wasn't the worst.
Which - contrary to what you might assume - was even worse than being the worst. Because being cursed with even a microscopic smidgen of potential
potential often resulted in just
making the team. This meant that, come race day, all those lucky bastards who fell off the bandwagon at trials, got to sit their slow behinds on the pavilion, happily chomping away at hot dogs and Kit Kats whilst the poor "mid-range" kids like myself had to be out on the field to actually
participate. Against the kids with actual
The lucky little slugs got to while away their time singing "Jamblikke Visblikke" in the shade whilst us mid-rangers
were out in the harsh February sun getting what little adolescent self-esteem we had left obliterated by the embarrassment that came with being the last one to cross the finish line in the 400 meters.
Oh, the shame of officially earning the title of...loser
But as time passed, irony turned that same smidgen of potential
potential that sparked my hatred for school athletics, into an annoying, irrepressible itch to... move
. And one idle day in April, at the ripe old age of 26, I got tired of supporting my then-boyfriend from the sidelines and decided that I
- little old slowpoke nonathletic I
- wanted, longed, ached and was going to run a half marathon.
What really changed?
Well... I guess it took me 10 years to get over my teenage angst and realize this tiny but life-altering truth:
In the real grown-up world...nobody cares how fast or slow you are.
These days, my generation's cool factor is dependent on money and status. And since neither of those are at play when it comes to social running, it's a moot point.
So despite still being somewhat screwed in general life due to a lack of money and status, at least I now get to automatically qualify for a race, run it at a leisurely pace (without some cruel PE teacher unleashing her mid-life crisis on my fragile self image), and get a medal, a cold Coke and a warm fuzzy feeling in my gut after crossing the finish line.
A second point I must stress about organized races. Most people who have never taken part in one have serious misconceptions about the kind of people who participate in them. Allow me to illustrate...
THE NEWBIE'S PERCEPTION:
[caption id="attachment_116" align="alignnone" width="230" caption="The chics who came first in high school races. "]
[caption id="attachment_128" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The all-American super-athlete"]
[caption id="attachment_118" align="alignnone" width="235" caption="Bruce Fordyce"]
Well, dear fanbase, I present to you - a REALITY CHECK
Who really participates in races?
Well, all of the above, sure.
[caption id="attachment_119" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Kiddies"]
[caption id="attachment_127" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Old omies"]
[caption id="attachment_122" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Crazy naked men"]
[caption id="attachment_124" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Strange pancake-baking ladies"]
[caption id="attachment_123" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Famous superheroes"]
[caption id="attachment_129" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The chicken (how did you think he crossed the road?)"]
[caption id="attachment_125" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Cute puppies"]
Yes, dear fanbase, it is true:
these days is fear-free, free for all, filled with friendly faces and a fan-flippen-tastic feel-good factor 10.
And that sure ain't what it used to be in high school...