On Racing Less

It should come as no surprise that I love to race. In 2001, I raced 28 times including an unbroken string of weekends in April and May. 2012 saw less races, 22, but that’s still a lot.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love, really love, to race. This isn’t about money either, although having less will certainly make a person think twice about spending it on something that may or may not pan out.

This is about discovering new meaning in the word “race”. My motives for previous races are a mixed bag. Some I ran just to finish like my first half marathon and full marathon. Some I ran with family. Some I ran just to meet the arbitrary goal of 26 races before my 26th birthday. The rest I have run either with no goal at all or with the goal of a PR.

It’s that last goal that has jumped out and grabbed me with what seems to be an unbreakable hold. I tasted the joy of sweet success that comes from far-surpassed goals twice in the past two months. Both races, Greenville News Run Downtown 5k and the Hilton Head Island Half Marathon, I picked strategically with big, challenging goals in mind.

Honestly, I was very scared to fail, to be left with disappointment that I would beat myself up with later. Thats the very thing that makes the triumph so worth it. I waited so long to put it all on the line, I almost forgot what it felt like. Those two “little” reminders were all I needed.

That’s why I’m racing less. The idea of signing up for a race just to run it has no appeal. Nor do I have the desire to become proficient at finagling a training plan around races that aren’t the ultimate goal. I’ve set out a big goal for San Francisco, sub 4, and I want it more than another bib or medal.

This may seem incongruous with my recent race and the fact that I’m running again in April. However, I think it fits pretty well. The fact that I was able to maintain PR pace Saturday wet my appetite for that sub 4 hour marathon. Greer? I want redemption on a course on which I’ve had little success. THus, it has a purpose.

I’m not sure how long this interpretation of racing will stick with me but I’m in with both feet ready to ride this wave to the end.


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