Yesterday, I started my blog by trying to answer the question: Why racing? I’ll admit, I’m never going to win a footrace I enter unless it’s just two of us and my opponent hasn’t done any running in years. But even then, I might be bested. For most of the first half of my 50s, I finished last in my age group in a number of races I entered. The few times I didn’t finish last, those who finished behind me were walkers.
Now that I am closer to 60 than 50, my finishes in my age group are more often in the middle of the pack, though at the back end of that middle. I rarely finish last in my age group nowadays. One recent 10K, the Trail Blazer, a race to benefit Fort Wayne Trails, I was the oldest finisher in the race, but not last in my age group (fourth out of five). Overall, I was 42nd out of 54 total finishers. The 5K race probably had twice as many finishers and folks in their 70s.
So why do I race? I was thinking about that after I posted yesterday’s blog. Part of it, I think, is to challenge myself. Part of it is to help raise money for a good cause. Part of it is to improve my speed.
I’ll start with the last one first. At the end of July, I ran a 10K in New Haven, Indiana, with the idea I would use that as speed training for my mid-September half marathon in Tennessee. I knew the two races were more than a month a part, but we had a trip to Colorado in there during which I knew I would not have a chance to do a lot of running. I was happy with my 10K time that morning, but my training fell off after that. Part of it was the Colorado trip, part of it was my own laziness, so the speed workout proved to have no benefit when I got to Tennessee in September. I had a plan, but I didn’t follow through.
I also run to raise money for a good cause. Each of the last two years, I’ve run a race to raise scholarship money for a local Catholic high school. I didn’t go to that school, and I don’t know anyone who does, but I know at least one faculty member. A few years ago, my wife, son and I went to an open house at the school I was impressed. Its student body has many non-Catholics, and I’m sure many receive some kind of financial aid, so why not help them out and have fun while I’m at it?
I mentioned the Trail Blazer. It raises money to build multiuse trails throughout the Fort Wayne community. One of its projects is to help build a trail from Pokagon State Park near the Indiana-Michigan line to Oubache State Park near Bluffton, Indiana. The trail would go through the heart of Fort Wayne, and it would be one of the longest trails in the state. I think trails are a vital link to an active transportation network and not just for recreation.
Another race I did this year, was help raise money for the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer. My sister is a breast cancer survivor, and the foundation is raising money for breast cancer research at Indiana University.
Finally, I race to challenge myself. My race isn’t necessarily against other runners, though I’ll admit I like reeling in runners in the late stages of a race. I’m racing myself. Am I well enough trained (For my half marathons, the answer was a resounding NO!)? For the Trail Blazer, I went out real slow, then finished strong. A week later, I ran the River City Rat Race 10K. I took nearly 2 minutes off my Trail Blazer time. Part of it had to do with a flatter course. Also, there was far less humidity in the air, even if the outside temp was a bit warmer. Both races started at 2 p.m. on a Sunday.
I will probably revisit this topic from time to time.