Tuesday, April 22, 2008

America's Finest?

The info below was listed on a racing website as the “highlights” of the America’s Finest City Half Marathon, to be held in San Diego this August.

2-day Expo; Race Day Festival; Tech t-shirts; Medals to all HM finishers under 3 hrs., HM limited to 7,750. 5K limited to 1500

Don’t get me wrong ~ San Diego is absolutely one of my favorite places to go….we are regular vacationers there each and every summer.

But the verbiage of these *highlights* really has me in a tizz. Only finishers under 3 hours are deserving of a medal? Did they cover less distance than sub-3 hour finishers? Did they work “less hard??” Did they shed less sweat, have fewer aches and pains?

Highly unlikely.

In contrast, in my humble opinion, those slowpoke, drag-yourself-across-the-finish-line-at-all-costs finishers are the most deserving of the group. I guarantee you that they shed more sweat, had more mental anguish and more aching body parts than any of the sub-3-ers could even fathom.

I think I am an anomaly ~ as I continue to be more impressed by those who have to work harder to achieve a goal, than I am by those to whom running just comes naturally. Maybe I’m biased since I’m not a good runner, but even in my back-of-the-pack location, I am still amazed by runners that have to work even harder.

I remember my first “big race” very well ~ a 12k along the harbor in San Pedro, California (the Bridge to Breakwater) ~ and the image of a particular runner is still engrained my brain. The course was an out-and-back, and I was poking along at my usual Pokey Pace (I haven’t really gotten much faster in the past 2 years!) and upon my way back down a hilly portion of the course, I saw the most inspiring runner that I have ever seen. A woman, probably mid 40’s, weighing in at at least close to 300 pounds. Everyone of her steps required noticeable effort, and she was sweating buckets in the hot temperatures of the day. As I was heading down the hill, she has heading up, out to the turnaround point at the breakwater. By my calculation at that time, there were probably only 20ish people behind me, and they were all on the downhill, not too far behind me. All except for this woman. As she approached me, I was made aware of the HUGE smile on her face, as she happily gave me a high-five, told me what a great job I was doing, and wished me luck. I returned the sentiments and we both continued to plod along, each in our opposite direction.

This one, single runner inspired me so much that day, that I can’t even express it. It was an undeniable certainty that she would finish last in the race ~ substantially behind everyone else. Yet this didn’t keep her from smiling, high-fiving, and trucking on. While the front-of-the-packers were eating bagels and oranges and analyzing their runs, this woman was still running and sweating in the higher-than-normal California temps that day. How could one not be inspired by that?

I guarantee that this woman, much like anyone else that would run an half marathon in over 3 hours, exerted enough physical energy and mental toughness to be more than deserving of a medal. And it makes me angry when the running community ~ which for the most part is so incredibly welcoming and supportive ~ takes an elitist approach.

As most of might have figured out by now, I am not a stellar half marathon runner (shhhhh…don’t tell anyone else!). There are so many variables and “what if’s” along a course of 13.1 miles that could easily set me back and push me back into the over 3 hour category. If that was me, and I pushed through leg cramps (oh, which I certainly have) and mental adversity to complete a HM course – you bet your sweet selves I would be demanding a medal. And no runner should ever settle for less.

I understand the need for time limits and road closures ~ and I’m okay with it. So if it’s a time limit issue, then call it a time limit ~ and all of us slowpokes would be understanding. But if a race is just going to be greedy with its medals, then it can count me out.

I’ll take my money and my slowpoke behind to another race that has an appreciation of what it really takes for runners like me to complete a race.

Okay, rant over. Back to the regularly scheduled programming.


****Ranter's Note: after some time to re-look at the website and come out of my tizz, apparently they have changed some of the verbiage and indicated that the time limit IS a road closure issue.....not just a "you're to slow to get a medal issue. As promised above, I will be understanding from now on ;) I just won't go run their race, LOL! :) ****

18 comments:

Running Knitter said...

You know I'm totally with you on this one! :)

Melanie said...

well said!!! and you're right, yes, i'm impressed by those that are naturally fast, but more so by those that are not, and push themselves farther than they probably thought possible :) thanks for providing the inspiration.

Nat said...

I really wish people would see that. I've seen some truly inspirational people back here...
They deserve the medal just for showing up. (You know what I mean.)

Flo said...

You are absolutely right. I am always more impressed by those to whom things don't come easy yet they persist and do it anyway (umm, yeah, that would be me :)

Wes said...

Obviously they are not catering to the masses. Sad, but you said it very well and I'm right there with you! I pays my money, I expect to be treated the same as everyone else!! Rock on!!

J~Mom said...

I would have to just steal my medal then. :>P

TV de Plasma said...

Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my blog, it is about the TV de Plasma, I hope you enjoy. The address is http://tv-de-plasma.blogspot.com. A hug.

RunningNan said...

This reminds me of the first 5k I ran last summer. I didn't pick a big race because I didn't want the big deal. I made a new friend that day, and we stuck together the whole time. Infact, we ran another one together later that summer. I think our time was 34 or 35 minutes. The front of the pack had already crossed the line, and they were actually running the course backwards now. I had made a comment that they were sending the search party out for us. We finished, and to my surprise, I finished 3rd for my age group. There were 4 in my group. The girl I was running with stepped back since I stuck with her and walked when she needed to. I was shocked and surprised. I got a little hokey plaque that was generic, but it was still a plaque! The next race we ran, I stepped back and let her take the time before me.

I'm with you on the whole vebiage, and I wouldn't run that race either. That woman that you mentioned must be a strong willed woman to do that. She must've felt so proud when she finished!

Jeff said...

You could also look at it as a challenge to yourself to beat that time. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but you were so close to 3 hrs the last time out. I know you could do it!

Laura N said...

Great post. That 3 hour rule is crap. If they changed the verbiage, they must have had a lot of people complain. I would not run that race, either!

Mendy said...

Great post! as always, I enjoy reading your blog Karen.

I've been MIA for a while, so just got caught up on everything. I feel the same way as you explained about the runners, running a race and deserving of a medal no matter the time distance. I'm not fast by any means, nor am I middle of the pack, but I am putting my effort into the runs, just as much as anyone else (fast or not). I hear ya chica!!!

Chief Wahoo said...

I am with you here! Your time in a race is certainly no measure of the commitment and energy you expend to actually run the race. I ran a 5K last summer where the announcer at the finish line was actually announcing that it is easy to run for 18 minutes like the first place guy - but the folks coming in at 35 minutes plus really deserve your cheers for their determination!

robert said...

"I continue to be more impressed by those who have to work harder to achieve a goal"

I couldn't agree more. I generally stop reading any blog or post that goes into how hard their run was, only to find out they are running 6 minute miles.

Love your blog, keep moving forward.

Dan Seifring said...

I think it is a fair rant. Even if they changed the terminology.

Morgan said...

Oh my gosh.. I am sitting here trying very hard not to cry (because I am work) but that is one of the BEST running stories I've ever heard. I wish I could find that woman and hug her on behalf of every chubby girl who thought couldn't do something athletic!!

Fawn said...

Hey there. I am a newbie runner, too,desperately trying to be a better runner. :) I'm aiming for my first 5K soon (sounds so small compared to all these blogs I read from marathoners..) so any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

David said...

I'm glad there was some clarification, and I'm with you that as long as someone is truly trying to do their best, they deserve what any of the finishers get. I will say that those who set out to walk 13.1 miles at a joy pace and call it a half marathon, selfishly leaving all those volunteers and traffic control police out there for MANY extra hours, should probably just go shopping, but that doesn't apply to most of the folks that sweat out and suffer to complete a half marathon.

Non-Runner Nancy said...

OMG, that's completely absurd. Even if they have traffic concerns, people can move to the sidewalks. It still only takes a couple volunteers to stand there with medals. I think my half was 2:59 and I bawled when I got that medal. I can't imagine how much I would have bawled to NOT get it at that point.

Hey - I saw the Tucson HM on your schedule in Dec 08. Are you thinking of doing that? I wonder if I could make that work. Wouldn't that be cool?