Why do we race? What is it that drives us to test ourselves, put it all on the line and come out beaming, grumbling or devastated?
I suppose the keyword is Test. We want to know our abilities, test our limits, see what we are made of. We compare ourselves to last year, to college, to high school, and against our goals. Are we progressing? Is the training producing the desired results?
In my last few road races there were hiccups. One was dreadfully short, the other took a long detour to accommodate construction. I could guess my 5k time from these races, but neither was a 5k time. It was all a guess. These races were no more than a training run where I try to extrapolate my progress.
So I took to the track. On the track the course is set, the distance is standardized, the wind is equally helpful and hindering with each lap. No excuses! ... except when there are excuses. I hate, HATE that I ran two track races this weekend and still find myself explaining them away. In the first race, I was stung by a bee at the 1000m mark. Stung by a bee, who flew right at me, latched onto my ear like an ear cuff (yes, I squealed and jumped and flailed- quite the scene I am sure!) then stung me as I instinctively swatted it away. I spent the next 1000m trying to assess the sting severity and situation, loosing all focus on the race. The last 1000m allowed some concentration, but mostly still survival and mild anger at the lost seconds in the middle stretch. I didn’t come here to find out what I am made of, how resilient I am in the face of adversity; I just want to know how fast I am. It turns out these are two very different measures!
The next day I came back for the 1500m. Would you believe that the lanes gate swung closed in the second lap, forcing the racers out to lane 5 each lap? Race officials could not figure out how to open the gate, at least for the remainder of our race. Again, I wasn’t in the race to set any records but I would like to know where I stand. How could it be that two days and two track races later I still feel lost in terms of my fitness? Am I getting slower as I age or can I hang with my younger self? Should I keep working at the track while I can or tuck my tail and boogie back to the marathon as quickly as possible?