Running in No Man’s Land

Nick at Crayola Classic 10K me and Nick at Crayola Classic 10K

I don’t normally post shirtless photos online but when one of the people in the photo has lost 150 pounds in the last year or so, I think the absence of the shirt helps make the point.  The guy in the black shorts is a 19 year old, soon to be sophomore at Mississippi State.  He was a defensive lineman in high school (and salutatorian), super strong weighing in at over 300 pounds at his apex. After high school football he decided to focus on his academic future (which is very bright), on getting in better aerobic shape and on losing weight. I have known this young man for many years and have had the privilege of being a friend and mentor. He knew I was a runner and as he got more involved in running we naturally started talking about his progress.

Today he ran a 10k (6.2 mile) race in 42 min and 53 seconds.  That’s covering over six miles under a 7 minute mile pace. I barely beat him and probably never will again at the rate he is progressing with his running. So proud of what he has accomplished academically, spiritually and with his fitness. Humbled and honored to be a part of it.

That’s the bright side of today’s race. On the other side, I personally ran without conviction and had a mediocre performance 30 seconds slower than my personal record and no where near the effort I put in 3 weeks ago at The Flying Pig Marathon Relay in Cincinnati. I ran the second half of this race in no man’s land. No man’s land for runners is when you find yourself too far from the closest competitor ahead of you with no one close behind you. The only competition is the clock. No one to catch. No one to run from. I admire people who can push themselves when they are in no man’s land, I’m just not one of them.

imagesAt The Flying Pig Marathon Relay, the relay runners were wearing special yellow tags on their backs, so I could easily see them out in front of me. I was completely focused on running to pass relay runners. At the finish I was still trying to catch that next guy and I ran a great time. They were like rabbits and I was the dog trying to run them down. At one point in Cincinnati I was heading up a hill and I passed someone and they started kicking to get back in front of me and I felt a surge of motivation and pushed even harder leaving them behind. It is just what works for me. I race to beat people.

Today with no one close ahead or close behind, I ran hard, but I know I could have done more. I’m conservative at the start, but I am going to have to push when the field is separating early to stay with some of the faster runners, even if I know they are faster. Staying closer to the lead longer will turn more of the race in to the kind of race I belong in.