On Being Slow

My next post was going to be about my marathon experience, but yesterday I got an e-mail from a running series about a new race. It’s called the “Be Easy 5K” and takes place before a “Competitive” 5K (their wording). Basically you must run it in more than 24 minutes in order to qualify for age group awards. I have heard about races like this before but this is the first one that I have heard of in my area.

I am not sure how I feel about this. Basically you are awarded for being the fastest of the slower runners. I don’t consider myself fast, though I have worked hard to at least place in the top 10 of most of my area 5K races. If you are wondering, my fastest timed 5K is 26:07. I say fastest timed because it was gun timed and I started in the back, so I believe my time was closer to 25:46. But I digress. That earned me 7th place in my age group of 45-49.

Am I happy with that? I am damn happy with that – forgive the language. I ran my first 5K in 30:03, coincidentally at that same race and placed 17th. So if I run the Be Easy 5K then perhaps I can place in the top 3. But what does that mean? Does it mean more than finishing 7th in a more competitive race? Not to me. I can see it possibly meaning more for someone that has no chance of placing anywhere in the top 10. But that would not be a 24 minute 5K runner.

Of course, that all changes when you are talking about younger people and men, since (generally speaking) you can run faster when you are younger or if you are a man. But I think the same question can be asked… if you are fastest of the slow(er), does that mean something to you?

The placing gives me an idea of how I compare to women my age, women in general, and all runners. I like that because I like data and I like having a frame of reference to compare my performance. Taking the “slower” runners out and putting them in another race also skews the “competitive” race results and takes away the frame of reference.

Running is more to me than what place I finish. In the end, I want to always run faster than I did in the past. I think it will be interesting to see how many people go for the Be Easy race vs the “competitive” race.

I should also say that I don’t like the term “competitive” race. That’s why I keep putting it in quotes. Or the fact that the other 5K is called “easy”. If you are running hard, a 5K is not easy. No matter how fast you are running it. If you are a 30 minute plus 5K runner and you give it your all, aren’t you diminishing yourself by running in a race called “easy”? You are working just as hard as the so-called “competitive” runner.

Some people are built to run. You can tell, because without any training they can actually run. 🙂 Others have to work very hard at it. I count myself among this group.

I say run your hardest, run your own race, and be proud of yourself. Whether you place first or fiftieth.


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