Thursday, June 11, 2009

What you do not know baecause you are not me

To Race or To Finish
Michael Ring

Last Sunday I ran the Kenny Dolan Memorial 5K Run. I had a great time. Not the time on the clock, but I enjoyed myself. I mean I really enjoyed myself. I paced my 9 year old twins in a “grown up race”. I finished in about 35 minutes. For me that time means nothing, but seeing my kids smile when they got cheers from friends and strangers was priceless. Eight days earlier I ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon. There I wanted to have a good time; I wanted to break two hours.

Every time I start a race I want to have a good time. Some times I want to have a good time by enjoying the sights, being with friends and family or knowing that finishing will qualify me for the next level of running. Recently, I have run a lot of races like that. Since my kids were born I have enjoyed pushing them and now racing with them. I had a good time. I even joined an internet group called JustFinish.

On June 2 the New York Times had a great article on not finishing. First the Marathon Lottery, then the Pressure to Finish”, compared the elite runner who has a very specific goal to the recreational runner. The elite runners will get off the course if they are not going to meet their goal. Why risk injury if you are not going to be in the money…. Be in better shape for the next race. The recreational runners have more to lose by not finishing.

Recreational runners may push too hard to finish because of “external pressures,” according to Dr. Jeffrey L. Brown, a Harvard Medical School psychologist who evaluates participants in the Boston Marathon and other races. Such pressures include dedicating a race to a loved one, raising money for charity or battling a disease. “It can put real undue pressure on someone,” Brown said. And then there is the nature of the people who are drawn to marathoning. “Marathon runners tend to be a bit obsessive,” Brown said. As for dropping out, he said, “it is not something that is on the checklist.”

But this goal of just finishing did not allow me to have a “good time”. I ran some very conservative races. I needed to finish 9 races in a calendar year; I needed to finish 15 marathons. Racing became a chore, finishing became the goal. Well, that is behind me now. I have my lifetime guaranteed entry into the NYC Marathon.

I don’t need to run 9 NYCRR races every year. I also don’t need to finish the NYC Marathon. I wanna have a good time. I wanna run the same kind of race that I did 10 years. I wanna run hard and have a negative split. I want to pay attention to mile markers and good form.

I have nothing to prove any more, I finished many marathons, now I am ready again to risk not finishing. I need a good time again. I don’t want to Just Finish.