I ran my first half marathon just under one year ago. This weekend, I completed my third. I didn’t really mean to sign up for three, but here we are.If you’re a runner, you’ll be interested in my personal records (PRs) – if you’re not, feel free to skip to the next paragraph, this will be incredibly boring for you. Here’s a brief summary of my times and experiences:
- 1st Race: Was passed by a woman on crutches but I survived and was happy to be able to say that I finished in under 3 hours (PR 2:59)
- 2nd Race: Rainy, hillier than Kansas has any right to be, and lonely with only 200 runners, still shaved a few minutes off my time (PR 2:54)
- 3rd Race: Big, festive race with a great pace leader, down almost 15 minutes in one year (PR 2:45)
There was a special moment during this race when we all saw the soon-to-be winning runner coming toward us after finishing the first part of the loop. I’m pretty sure I was between mile 2 and 3 when this happened. He ended up finishing in 65 minutes. Respect, man.
There’s a good chance I’ll never know what winning a race – or even finishing with an average time – is like, but that’s okay. I’m a proud back of the packer and I’m not alone. Here are some things about back of the packers like me:
- We are nervous and aren’t entirely sure that we’ll finish the race but we are optimistic
- We represent a variety of ages, shapes, and ability levels
- Other than our neon outfits and super sexy fanny packs, many of us don’t look like you think a runner looks
- Because we are slow, we have a lot of room for improvement, meaning constant PRs (not sure that 65-minute man can do a whole lot better)
- Many of us are relatively new to running, or to exercising in general, so we feel pretty great about just being there
- Races are a challenge for everyone, but for us, this is a true endurance sport – we’re prepared for three hours of straight cardio
- Our biggest fear is having to poop during these 3 hours. Wait…no? That’s just me? Okay, I stand corrected.
Some of the best advice I’ve heard for slow runners is that beating your personal best feels the same whether you run slow or fast. In the end, I don’t feel like someone who finished this last race 3,266th out of 3,726th or almost two hours after the winner. I feel like someone who trained for months, got up ridiculously early on a Saturday, ran my little heart out, and beat my PR like a stud. Then ate as many donuts as I could shove down my gullet. Like a freakin’ champ.