It’s that time again, fellow runners. Let us runfess to all our running-related transgressions which have occurred since the last time we met to unburden our souls.
At the top of my list is Phunt, the 25k trail race I recently ran, against my better judgment. Let me explain.
I like to try new races. There are a lot of races around and I don’t want to get into the rut of doing the same ones over and over. There are a few races, however, that I love so much they are on my schedule each year. Phunt is one of them, right at the very top of my list.
Phunt is such a popular race that it quickly sells out a few days after registration opens. In fact, the 2020 version of the race is already almost full. You have to make up your mind about running the race nearly a year in advance.
When I signed up for Phunt 2019 last January, my injured hip was on the mend. I had just won my age group at Phunt 2018 and my subsequent spring racing season was pretty good.
The injury reoccurred, unfortunately, in August while doing a long run for the Tunnel Vision marathon. I have been trying to rehab it ever since, with uneven results. Despite physical therapy, a strengthening and stretching regimen, and rest, my hip often hurts and my stride and speed are impacted. Long runs are especially troublesome.
I knew that a 16-mile trail run was probably not a smart thing for me to do, but when it comes to running, no one would accuse me of being smart. Besides, when I get pre-race emails from the race director, warning runners to be on the lookout for a grizzly bear recently escaped from a nearby zoo, a bear that was trained to salute the tallest person present when The Star Spangled Banner is sung (a joke), how could I not race?
Bottom line: Phunt lived up to my expectations in every way. I got to hang out with my hubby and a bunch of my running friends; the race swag was amazing; the trails were a mixture of ice, granular snow, and ankle-deep mud; the volunteers at the aid stations (where hot soup, barbeque, grilled cheese sandwiches, bacon, and adult beverages, as well as other typical trail race food, are served) were enthusiastic and helpful; the after-party was raucous. And my hip hurt.
My time was 45 minutes slower than my previous slowest Phunt time and over an hour slower than two years ago. I was dead last in my age group. Even though I had fun at the race, (or phun as they say at Phunt) and I am grateful for the experience and relieved I was able to finish, I am disappointed in my time, ashamed of my disappointment, and frustrated at my inability to accept my present circumstances. Ugh!
On to the next runfession.
Maybe it was because I was in some pain, but I runfess another runner’s behavior at Phunt irritated me. The young woman in question was friendly, outgoing, and a very good runner. She was running the trail race with her younger sister, who was running her first trail race. The older sister wanted to support her sibling, an admirable thing to do.
The race is run mostly on single-track trails through the woods. As I mentioned, the trails were either snow-covered or muddy. Passing other runners was difficult.
This young woman would run with her much slower sister for a while, then speed up to her normal pace, passing (and displacing) racers in front of her. She would then circle back to her sister, and repeat the process. Several times, I stopped momentarily to get out of her way before I realized what was happening. She must have passed us (and other runners at about our speed) 10 times.
Even though she was periodically checking in with her sister, she wasn’t really running with her, and she was repeatedly interrupting other runners in her path. I wanted to tell her “Please, either run with your sister, or run your own speed, but don’t try to do both,” but maybe I was just cranky.
Here is my final runfession. I am kind of liking running on the elliptical. This surprises no one more than me.
I can work up a sweat in the comfort of the rec center gym, I don’t have to steel myself before venturing outside into the cold, cruel world, there is no traffic to contend with, and I can “run” fairly fast without worrying about the pounding that my hip takes when I run on the roads. I also like to stop every 10 minutes or so for a swig of ice water I keep in a container in the cup holder.
The downside? Yep, it’s boring. For some reason, my mind will not drift when I am on the elliptical. Maybe it’s because there are too many things going on in the gym, too much stimulation, but I can’t zone out and think thoughts that interest and entertain me.
That reason alone is enough to prevent me from replacing more of my runs with sessions on the elliptical machine. Where would I get the writing inspirations that come to me during long, solitary runs on country roads?
Thank you for hearing my runfessions, sisters (and brothers). This should keep me in good shape until next month.