Back of the Pack

RTPI 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.


2 thoughts on “Back of the Pack”

  1. Congratulations cousin! I ran a half-marathon when I was 40 and I was never a runner before that although I trained for four months following the half-marathon training protocols of Hal Higdan’s website. I think I finished in two hours and 41 minutes with my husband and kids at the Finish Line cheering me on!! There were only three of us that ran. And they were much better condition than I was… Talk about lonely! But I felt on top of the world when I hobbled over that finish line!!! (I highly recommend not stopping to stretch at the 10th mile… beginner’s error)!

    I just wanted to let you know that I think you are amazing to have completed three half marathons and that you have the courage to move on to a full Marathon! Way to go cousin!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s