Yesterday was the 86th running of St. Johns’ biggest annual road race, the Tely 10. That’s 10 miles not 10 kilometers, btw. Above are Jason and I just past the finish line with our finishers’ medals. We covered the 10 miles (about 16K) in a non-record-setting 2 hours and 40 minutes. The winner made it in 51 minutes, so you can see that we weren’t exactly leaders of the pack. In fact, we’re not even runners. We walked the course, for the third time. Our goals are usually 1) to beat last year’s time, and 2) for Jason not to come last in his age category (it’s easy for me not to come last since many women in the 40s walk the course, but men in their 40s tend to either run or not bother, so Jason generally has to pick a slower-looking guy about his age and try to stay ahead of him).
We didn’t achieve either of our goals yesterday. We were making pretty good time, for us, till about Mile 8 Jason’s knee started hurting a lot and we had to slow down (I didn’t have to slow down, of course, but we like to finish together). Then, at the very last second just as we were crossing the finish line, the slower guy Jason had been keeping ahead of suddenly burst into a little jog, passed us, and finished three seconds ahead of Jason. That guy was #141 out of #142 in their age group; Jason was #142. (BTW, the numbers we’re wearing above are just our randomly-assigned race numbers, not the positions in which we finished). 3320 people finished this race and Jason and I finished up in positions #3242 and #3243 — in the last 100 people to finish. My real hero is the guy who kept moving till he finished dead last in three hours and fifty-seven minutes.
(Here we are crossing the finish line: me in triumph, Jason in a considerable bit of pain. His knee is OK now though.)
Are we happy with our results despite slowing down? Absolutely! We finished the course and that’s what matters. Actually, even if Jason’s knee had completely failed him and he hadn’t been able to finish we’d still consider it a success if we’d walked as far as we possibly could.
Some people may wonder why you’d bother walking in a running race? While I’ve blogged and even vlogged about the Tely 10 before, I thought this year I’d actually address that question. Some Tely10 runners don’t even realize there are a couple of hundred people walking (some bursting into occasional short jogs, like the guy who passed Jason). But the philosophy of this particular race is that everyone is welcome (after paying the entry fee). Not every road race is like this: the Cape to Cabot Race here in St. John’s, for example, has a cut-off number of participants and many races require qualifying times to make sure that only the best runners get in. But I think every community also has some road races like our Tely 10, races that are open to everyone who wants to participate. The point is not to compete with others but to set a goal for yourself and meet it.
I am not an athlete. I will never be an athlete. I don’t even care about being an athlete. I hate most sports and I’m not good at them. Walking is my preferred form of exercise and it’s just as much about mental health as it is about physical — walking helps me feel sane and centred (as much as I ever do). And while I could quite happily go for short and long walks (usually with my dog) all over the place without ever entering a road race, setting a challenge and meeting it is for me a kind of celebration. I like to celebrate the fact that I live in a body and it can do things. And I encourage everyone to find their own challenge — something you like to do that’s maybe a little farther than you’d normally push yourself — and do it. Not as a competition but as a celebration.