The alarm clock went off way too early this past Saturday morning. It was dark and wet outside as I crawled out of bed. I had registered for the Jack-O-Lantern Jog, a 5K that benefits a local YMCA. I had not run a 5K in over three months. I registered for it since it was a Halloween themed run in a costume for charity. It sounded like a fun time. I have to admit my Lone Ranger costume was pretty damn clever!
I suspected the race would be a somewhat difficult since I was remiss in running most of the summer. My cycling took precedence when given a choice to run or bike. I reasoned that I could do 5K since I ran 3 to 4 miles on the beach almost every morning a few weeks back while on vacation. The run turned out to be my hardest run to date. Although quite cool to run through a historic cemetery, it happened to be a roller coaster of hills after hills after hills. The finish line sat at the top of one long hill. I crossed the finish line with the clock at 47 minutes plus a few seconds; pretty slow.
I often ask myself why I continue to run given my speed. It is obvious that I truly suck at it. I don’t need the extra cardio exercise. I get plenty of cardio workouts cycling multiple days a week. Being a short chubby guy, I don’t have the slim tall runner’s body. At 58, when most lifelong runners are slowing down, I am already slow and destined to get even slower. I will never see my name very far above the last entry in my age class on the results sheet.
I run because I run for myself. I only started running early this spring to help my best friend Chuck get a Couch to 5K program up and running. I met some wonderful people in this program; many ran with me this Saturday morning. It was after my first race that I found out that I enjoyed the excitement and camaraderie of a race. Running is challenging and exciting; very similar to cycling.
I am a big fan of John “The Penguin” Bingham. I have read his books and see a lot of my background, traits, and abilities in him. I share his philosophy is that the slow runners at the back of the pack do not run for the money, the glory, the awards or the recognition. They run for themselves, their pride and their sense of achievement.
I am a person who prides himself on being an outstanding performer in everything I do. I am highly motivated to perform well in my business and personal lives. My poor running skills bothered me in the first months I ran. No matter how hard I tried, I could only move the needle a little bit. It was after I read John Bingham’s books that I was able to acknowledge that it is OK to be slow while performing at my best. I take pride in being “glacially slow”, a term I stole from John Bingham.
I enjoy running. Like cycling, there is this private quiet time that brings life into focus. I love the excitement of the races. The friends I have made are there for me. They always finish way before I cross the finish line, but there they are cheering me on. This was the case last Saturday.
I shared the reality of me being glacially slow with a running pal’s friend. She responded with, “Well, you are faster than everyone who decided to blow off the race and stay in bed this morning.” That set me thinking of one of my favorite John “The Penguin” Bingham quotes. Yes, I was faster than them.
“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” – John “The Penguin” Bingham
Tom thanks for sharing your core reasons for keeping with it. I am in a place now where I think I’d miss my run if I didn’t get out there and do it. I lumber along like you and the penguin. But that’s ok with me. I’ve yet to get out and run a public race. It’s in my future. But I did this September start running on the road. I left the safety of the treadmill and I must say I’m faster on the road and I prefer the road. I always enjoy reading your blogs and hope one day we will meet at a WLS event. Who knows.
~Your fellow glacially slow penguin friend Tracy