I recently ran the Run to Remember in downtown Chicago, it was my first experience with a 5K road race. The race started at Soldier Field and went north up the shoreline past the Shedd Aquarium and up towards the Loop before turning south and heading back to the start/finish. My brother and I arrived late and so I lined up at the rear of the nearly four thousand person crowd, but as I looked around I noticed that most of the folks surrounding me were pushing strollers or wearing basketball shoes. Thus began my forward migration. As the introduction festivities were going on I wove through the crowd finally ending up about two hundred runners from the front. I could see that the fifty or so people in the very front were serious short course racers so I figured I’d play it safe and hang back a bit.
I’m accustomed to longer races where I have a good mile or two to get warmed up and to find my pace; not so in a 5K race. When the gun blew I started fast and tried to go faster. The first mile was crowded as I had to deal with slow people in front and the gallop and gasp people pushing me from the back, but still I managed a 6:40 first mile. I hit the turnaround at 9:45 and pushed past mile two at 13:40. I was starting to fade, but worked hard to maintain a sub seven pace. There was a slight hill coming around the Aquarium and I even though I lost a few seconds I managed to pass three for four runners who had been just out of reach for most of the race. I finished at 20:32 and was happy to average sub seven minute miles.
Instead of my typical apprehension and thoughts of “why am I here” I’m starting to savor the spirit of competition. Despite other’s claims to the contrary I’m not a very competitive guy; what I mean is that I’m all too willing to accept the notion that other folks are better than I am. I’m looking forward to putting my new competitive spirit to the test during the upcoming Onionman triathlon.