Sam Costa was a singer and voice actor on the show Much Binding in the Marsh, a comedy show on BBC radio and Radio Luxembourg broadcast from 1944-1954.  So no, I’ve never seen or heard it but I did run a Half-Marathon yesterday named after the guy.

Running.  Racing.  Running.  Racing.  Ugh.  All my best-laid plans go right out the window as soon as I pin the bib on my shirt.  Well maybe that’s not totally true because once, when I ran the Mini to pace one of my running buddies to a PR, I actually set mine.  It was not his day and as soon as he gave me the I am hating life right now and will never run again high sign, I took off. 

So when I don’t try, it works out.  Funny.  Story of my life.  (No, no, I will not digress…I will NOT digress!).  I loved that day in Indy and can remember each mile clearly.  How I felt.  What I was thinking.  What the quick math equaled in my head when I did the down and dirty addition as I came off an even dirtier 2.5 mile track. 

And now, one day after I ran a race in honor of a Sephardic Jewish-Portuguese man, I’m critiquing again.

The curse of a runner.  I could have finished 3 minutes faster.  Why did I go so slowly through that water stop?  20 seconds right there.  Did I go out too fast again?  But if I had gone out slower I wouldn’t have had time to make it up.  Is that chick seriously ahead of me?  Oh, I don’t THINK so.  The list goes on, but the high points are usually the same.

I signed up for yesterday’s race a couple months ago.  It was to be used as a gauge to determine how the Cleveland marathon training is coming along.  I was certain a few weeks ago that I’d never be able to run CLE, let alone this time trial since you can’t really do either of those well with just a right foot.  After a serious heel/Achilles/calf scraping and the subsequent phone call to Amnesty International to report it, I’ve been able to ease back into the training.

Reasonable first mile pace.  Stayed patient.  Mile 2.  Patience over.  I began to run consistent miles, ranging from 7:57-8:04.  Feeling good.  My running partner was behind me, yet close enough that I could hear his shoes striking, making me feel slightly guilty for not being back there with him.  So I went faster to avoid that nonsense.  I had enough in front of me to deal with and figured since I drove to the race, he’d get over it.

Mile 8 was when the voices started talking louder than the music was playing.  Should I keep passing people?  I know better.  Not my first time.  Gotta save something.  Tank can’t be empty for the last 5k.  Those voices are utterly annoying.  After shutting them up several times, I clicked my iPod forward to a louder, faster song.  I had to be louder and faster.  Like, now.

Mile 9.  Same people around me.  There was one woman in particular who was running strong and she and I had been doing the infamous passing back and forth of one another for a few miles.  I wish instead of the instant I am going to destroy you feelings which surface as that happens, I would just buddy up with the person.  Oh well…Rome.  My DNA probably isn’t going to change overnight either.  I stayed ahead of her and ultimately ended up beating her, but it was far from total destruction.

As people started to pass me (fine – those whom I had passed way too soon miles earlier), I thought to myself:  just let them go.  Do not fight it.  They are ahead of you for a reason and you clearly have more training left to do before the big race.  That’s why you’re here anyway; today isn’t what it’s about.  Good.  Glad.  Settled. 

But wait!  Hold on a cotton pickin’ second.  That is stupid talk.  Don’t let them go.  You stay right here with them because the time is now.  There might not be another chance.  They could keep right on moving forward toward their own goals and agendas, and then the opportunity would be gone forever.  A wasted chance.  How much regret that would be. 

Go.  No.  Yes.  No.  Now.  No.  That whole thing is more exhausting in and of itself than the actual physical part.  More exhausting than the cumulative training, the cumulative time spent dissecting every morsel of information and what you know to be true about what it is you’re doing in that very moment.  No question.

Is there ever a right answer?  I don’t know.  But when I crossed the line yesterday, I realized there is at least a better approach.  A better way to exude patience, and a more exacting time to hold back nothing and just go for it.

Quite simply the bottom line is, I love running.  Everything about it keeps me coming back for more.  And until I figure out how to race – really race and cross that line with a qualifying time as I exhaustingly and undeniably whisper “finally” to myself – I’ll keep lacing up.  Until maybe I just don’t love it anymore.

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