Monday, April 22, 2013

A Supposedly Fun Thing Jay Will Never Do Again

I don't want to talk about Boston.  The past week was incredibly difficult and I've had more conversations about it than I care to remember.  I'm generally not an open/sharing person, particularly about "emotions," and you'll have to forgive me if I just want to say I'm tired of talking about it and dealing with my emotions about it and for now I'm just going to have to internalize whatever I have left.  There are many, many other places where you can read people's feelings about what happened, people who will say it much better than I can anyway.  Go ahead, I won't be offended if you click on someone else's blog.  I just don't have then energy to do that.
I'm not going to talk too much about the race I ran last weekend either, the Hyner View Challenge in central Pennsylvania.  Suffice it to say, if one set out to design the worst possible race course for my particular skill set, they would come up with something pretty close to Hyner.  As many of you know, I am a terrible downhill runner and a borderline terrible technical trail runner.  Therefore, a race featuring several long, steep, technical downhills does not exactly play to my strengths.  I am, however, a pretty good uphill runner, oftentimes strong enough on the uphills to negate my myriad other weaknesses.  However, when the major climbs in the race are literally too steep to run up, well, it's not going to be my day.  I realized halfway through the first "climb"--a 20-minute uphill hike--that I would be in long run mode for the rest of the race, and that was that.  Any spots I was able to pick up on subsequent flats and uphills were immediately lost on the next insane downhill.  I basically ran as much as I could and didn't worry at all about place.  For the record I was 25th in 2:57:12, which, whatever.  Big congrats to my training partner and good friend Mike Halstead, seventh place in 2:39.

One good thing to come out of the experience was that I decided I don't have to do this kind of race anymore.  I've made a conscious effort--several conscious efforts--in the last 5-10 years to enjoy these ridiculously technical hike-a-thons.  I think I've been a good sport about this whole thing.  My friends will suggest some insane sufferfest that's usually won by someone running twelve minute miles, and I'll smile and say, "Sure, sounds fun," even though it doesn't sound fun, and I know that three miles into it I'll be cursing myself for running it.  I'm not any good at it, and no matter how much I want to be good at it, it's not going to happen.  I'm good (or at least, respectable) at races that involve actually running, at moderately fast paces, for considerable amounts of time.  I'm not good at races that involve hiking, scrambling, pulling myself up hand-over-fist, etc.  I'm not good at it and I don't enjoy it.  So, from now on, I'm not doing it any more.

So, to all my running friends: just stop.  Stop suggesting I do these races.  Stop telling me I'll love them.  You know I won't.  I know I won't.  I know you want me to love them, and believe me, I've tried, but at this point, we both need to face facts.  Save us both the hassle.  You guys know what kind of races I mean.  For those of you who don't know me as well: if you are considering recommending a race, stick to these simple guidelines.  I will not be running your race if:
  • last year's winner averaged over ten minutes per mile
  • the word "Hike" is featured prominently in the race name or URL
  • people expect to walk more than 30% of the time (that's being generous)
  • people break limbs on the course, and are ecstatic about it
  • a non-negligible percentage of the entrants feel the need to use trekking poles
Also, I am not opposed to stream crossings--I actually enjoy them--but races that require me to run up or down stream beds will no longer be considered.  Thanks.  I think this will make us both a lot happier.

In other news, I'm going to change up my race schedule for the coming weeks, but I want to make a big deal about it for reasons that will become clear when I make said big deal, so check back later this week and I'll give you the scoop.