Tuesday, September 20, 2011

When People Do Not Seed Themselves Appropriately In Races

I did a 10K in Portland, ME this past weekend. It was a great race with an awesome post-race party of pizza and Shipyard beer. The course was flat and fast and was mostly along a scenic jogging path around a cove. The one downside, however, is that the course was quite narrow. Most of the time you could run around people by running on the grass, but there were a few places where this wasn't possible, such as when we ran over a bridge.

In any road race, the first mile is a pain as it is quite crowded. At this specific race, due to the narrow width of the course, it was especially crowded. To alleviate problems caused by this, the race director put out signs so that people could seed themselves according to how fast they expected to run per mile (eg. 7:00, 7:30, 8:00....10:30, 11:00, etc). This is a great practice, because the faster people will have to spend less time running around people who will be plodding along at the back of the back, and the people who are going to be running slower can feel more comfortable running with people of their own speed. This practice is not to humiliate the runners, or to make them feel badly about the fact they are running 10:30/mile compared to the winner who did approximately 5:15/mile. It's simply to make the race more organized and to prevent giant clusterf*cks.

Granted, there are occasionally people who do not run their expected time because they either have a terrible race or a fantastic race, and I'm not here to hate on them. If you get a nasty stomach cramp and slow to 10:00-pace from 7:00-pace, that totally sucks, and I'm sorry. But if you were training at 9:30/mile, there is pretty much no chance of you running 7:30s for the next 6.2 miles. As such, DO NOT STAND THERE! Yeah, I'm looking at you, old guy in the sweatsuit with the fanny pack! There is just no way you're about to run 7:30 miles in your tennis sneakers. Or you, man in viking hat and pleather pants. Seriously, don't be ashamed, but get yourself to the back of the pack (or at least, to the part of the pack where you belong). I'm certainly not a speedy runner, and know I have no business being in the front, which is why I stepped into the pack at 8:30/mile, right around where I expected to run.

So the next time you're at a race, don't start next to your former college cross country star boyfriend. Separate for a few minutes, and find the 9:00 group. You'll be happy you did, because faster runners won't have to give you nasty stares as they push by.

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