How to win a race without really trying

This post was supposed to be titled “Fun run – an oxymoron,” but by the time I had wrestled the computer from Bruce, I had written it on paper and the story had evolved. Bottom line, though – 2011 has started off great!

Here’s the scenario: Someone in my household had signed up (without his housemate’s permission) to run the New Year’s Day Resolution/Prediction Less Than 4 Mile Fun Run/Walk (whew!) in downtown Batesville. After finding out, I eventually made my peace with it, because that someone just itches to run (he itches because he runs, too, but that’s a story for a Crohn’s-related post).

I went to take that someone to his less-than-4-mile race this morning, ran into some friends and, at their urging, ended up registering at the last minute. And I won the women’s division, as you can see by the above photo of the first running trophy I’ve ever won (and probably ever will)! John “The Penguin” Bingham, author of the two most recent books I’ve read (No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running and Training for Mortals: A Runner’s Logbook and Source of Inspiration) would be so proud!

Here’s how to do it:

1. Stay up hours past your bedtime the night before, not to watch the ball drop in Times Square but because A&E is showing a New Year’s Eve marathon of a TV show you’ve recently become obsessed with.

2. Eat two pieces of cold pizza for breakfast, washed down with diet Coke, about an hour after consuming a mammoth cup of coffee.

3. Wear clothing you normally would do your walking in, but not an athletically appropriate undergarment suitable for the type of bouncing a “full-figured” woman does while running.

4. Don’t take the race seriously because:

a) There’s no registration fee.

b) You weren’t planning to enter in the first place.

c) Success is based not on how quickly you can complete it but on how good you are at guessing ahead of time how quickly you can complete it. (You’re not allowed to wear a watch during the run, because the whole point is to make your prediction before the race and hope you know your own pace; in fact, the race director said he would have the cops beat you up if you wore a watch. He was kidding. I think.)

d) They call it a “fun run.” (The precise meaning of fun run is a story for another day.)

5. Drive your housemate to the race with the intention of either:

a) Reading the book you stashed in your purse “just in case there’s no one to talk to while I wait for him to finish” or

b) Walking/jogging around the block a few times to get your day’s exercise in, just in case there’s no one to talk to …

6. Let some  friends you run into before the race talk you into registering 10 minutes before the start time.

7. Hurriedly fill out the form and make a wild guess at your finishing time because, frankly, you haven’t been wearing your stopwatch during the get-back-in-shape walk/runs you’ve been doing the past six weeks. Or even really paying attention to the exact distance you’ve been walking/running because you weren’t planning to get serious about it until the new year.

8. Don’t stretch, warm up (unless you count going back inside the heated building) or do anything remotely racelike ahead of time.

9. Spend the entire 3.75 walking/jogging/bouncing miles writing the inevitable blog post in your head (isn’t everything in life a potential blog post?), telling yourself things like “Don’t forget to mention the two dead cats in the gutter on Water Street” and “Wouldn’t it be funny if I actually won this thing?” (the thought that occurs right after this one, as you’re struggling to make it up the course’s most heinous hill: “Hey, there’s Mom’s street. I bet she’s up by now. I could just cut across here, go into her warm house, use the bathroom and maybe have a cup of hot tea. Then I could cut back over to the race course and finish up”).

10. Tell yourself that you must make it clear in your blog that you would never seriously entertain the thought expressed in #9 – that it was just a fleeting lapse in judgment, something to joke about later. Yes, folks will get a chuckle out of that!

11. Run significantly faster and longer (more jogging than walking) than you have run these past six weeks because:

a) In your haste to register (and predict your time), you probably were a little too confident in your abilities. Fifty minutes for nearly 4 miles? At this early stage in your training? Are you kidding me?

b) You at least want to finish before those last two ladies bringing up the rear, one of whom foolishly passed you early on, before you got your head out of the clouds and got down to business.

12. When waiting for the winners to be announced, tell yourself you were only joking when you said it would be really funny to win (what you meant is that it would be really great to win), but, after all, this is just a “fun run” and at least you finished before those last two ladies.

13. And finally, in shock, go up and accept your trophy for predicting better than any of the other women how fast you could do this.

How fast? Not very. But my 50:17.3 was only 17.3 seconds off, much closer than the second-place woman’s prediction. And we don’t even remember her name, do we?

Sign up for your own race at White River Road Runners. See ya there!

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4 thoughts on “How to win a race without really trying

  • Sunday, January 2, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Great post, Suzy!

    I was out taking a few photos yesterday morning. I found out there was a “Fun Run” when I drove down Main street and saw all the signs and equipment. I said to myself, “Wow, what kind of people run on a day like this? When you could go over to Mom’s house for coffee? They are crazy.” Well, maybe I didn’t say all that to myself but I do remember the crazy part. I also, devilishly, thought to myself, “Boy those route arrows would really be easy to un-clip and flip around.”

    Anyway, congratulations! I wish now I have taken a few photos, maybe I could have gotten a action photo to go with your post. But, now that I know you run… Heheheh.

  • Sunday, January 2, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Thank you, Clayton, mostly for not flipping the signs. When a runner is near the end of the pack and can’t see the runners up ahead, sometimes a well-placed arrow is the only way you know you’re still on the course! 🙂 (As I get to know you, I’m finding out what a devil you are.) As far as photographing me (heh heh heh), once I attain elite status on the professional race-predicting circuit, I’ll hire you as my own personal photographer-slash-publicist.

  • Sunday, January 2, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Hey, nice trophy! This whole thing bodes very well for your year in running, I think. Was talking to a chronic runner last week who said people our age who take up running end up being the greatest runners. So there you have it…..predicted success already bearing fruit. Way to go!

  • Sunday, January 2, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Congrats. I need you to come drag my lazy rear up off the couch and make me do something. I saw some folks in a race a few weeks ago and thought “I sure wish I could do that”.

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