Ever hear the phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none?” It refers to a person who is competent at many skills, but an expert at none. Me. There are many pursuits in which I perform well; running, cooking (well, before I gave it up for Lent three years ago & never started back), writing, decorating, organizing, shopping, et cetera. Of these pursuits however, I excel at none. Insert collective awwww here.
Many days my lack of expertise does not bother me, but at this moment, an upcoming 5K has me “running scared”. I love that running is a solo sport, there are no teammates to high five, butt smack, or encourage. Running is one of the few areas in my life that is all about me, me, and me! On the flip side, should I choose to include others in my running, I am free to do so.
My niece, Melissa, is one of my favorite distance running buddies. In the past several years she and I have completed the Tyler Rose Half Marathon, Dallas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, Hot Chocolate 15K, Color Run, Wounded Warriors Half Marathon and the Waco Badass Half Marathon, but never a competitive 5K. Until now.
She lives in Abilene and I reside in San Marcos, so running together is a strategic event. There is a 5K race in McKinney on a weekend we will both be in the Dallas area. When she first asked if I was interested I thought it a great idea. It was not until after I had committed to her and paid the registration fees, that I discovered her diabolical plan.
Melissa is half my age and weighs maybe 100 pounds soaking wet. I weigh, well; we won’t discuss that number, but more than her. Despite these obstacles, I am the reigning race queen. Translation; she has never beaten me across the finish line. I am built for distance and endurance, not speed. My best pace in a 5K is 8:46 per mile, which is not too shabby for my age, but definitely would not qualify me for the upcoming Olympic trials.
Unbeknownst to me, the same day Melissa invited me to join her in a 5K, she clocked a 7:49 minute mile!!! What?!?! That’s a pace I can only dream of!! To say I am stressing over this race is like calling a twister, a mild breeze. She. Cannot. Beat. Me. Lies on ground kicking and screaming.
Race strategy is not something I generally practice, other than sprinting once the finish line is in sight, I just run. Thinking too much overcomplicates the process and ruins the fun, but this situation has me seriously reconsidering my tactic. Without a plan, I fear Aunt Becky will no longer be Race Queen, and that simply cannot happen.
After a training run, I queried my coach also known as my husband on how I should run this 5K. Do I run balls to the wall and try to match her pace? Do I run my pace and then chase her if she passes me? Do I let her lead keeping her in my sights and hope to catch her with my kick in the last half-mile? Crumbles to the ground in agony. I don’t know.
The dilemma is clear. My pride is on the line. Age and body mass are stacked against me. My only hope is for my consistency and solid training to outrun her youthful speed. Maybe I can hide a jet pack in my shorts?? Maybe running scared will get me across the finish line just a hair faster than her? Maybe.
Hope you are cheering for me!
P.S. This column was written pre-race, but published post-race and it is with mixed emotion that I must announce, there is new running queen in town, she beat me by a few seconds. I kept her in my sights, and started to gain/overtake her at the end, but she saw me coming and turned up the heat. Congratulations, Melissa, you earned it!
Until Next Time,
Becky J Miller