Monday, April 30, 2012

Personal Record

I love running. I love the egalitarian nature of the sport. I love that most races are held at breakfast time so I can feel that I've accomplished a full day's worth of activity before noon. I love that when I'm in a race, my main competition is me in the last race. There may be people that seem to be right next to me the entire course and I want to pass them, but they're more of a rabbit, not competition. That last part is my favorite. I ran a 5K yesterday and finished in the top third of my 35-39 age bracket. That's better than my normal middle of the pack finish. I finished in the top third of all women; that's also better than my normal placement. That's all nice, and does show me that I am improving. Better than all of that is the fact that I ran :39 faster than my prior best time in a 5K. That is a victory.
I love other sports, but the objective nature of running really appeals to my analytical nature. Hours can be devoted to whether the Green Bay Packer team of 1996 was better than the team in 2010, but there is no way to know the answer. I can tell you, with proof, that I ran more quickly yesterday than I did in 2010. I can argue that I ran farther yesterday than I ran in 2010, but that is impossible to prove, since I didn't use GPS either time. This is one of the main reasons I love running, but it's also the hardest to really believe. We are taught from an early age that if you're not first, you're last. I don't think it's expressed directly that way very often, but that's the message given from most competitions. People can name the World Series or Super Bowl winners, but not the teams they beat. We can name presidents, but not the other candidate. Unless you're an elite runner, it's different. You can name your time, but not the winner's name or time.

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