It gets to that point of any road race where the elite runners shoot off, the slower runners / walkers start lagging behind me and I find my spot among others who run/walk at the same pace as what I do.
Running a 21.1km race alone is tough. There’s no one to chat to. There’s no one to push you and no one but yourself to keep you motivated. So every now and then, I look around and strike up a conversation with those around me. The thinking is that we must* be doing the same pace so we might as well get to the finish line together. But that’s not always right. I learnt this lesson during the recent Johnson Crane half marathon.
It was close to the 14km mark and I found myself running next to a guy who ‘appeared’ to be running at 8mins/km (my pace). I was doing a run/walk strategy of 800m run/200m walk at the time and he joined in. We chatted away and my spirits lifted as I started to think that we would get each other to the end. It wasn’t meant to be. He started to struggle on the 800m runs and requested we walk a lot sooner. I gave in too easily and we landed up walking 800m and running 200m for about 2kms. But eventually I realized that he was holding me back so I waved goodbye and ran off.
Reflecting on the race (and analyzing as I do), I realized that it was really great to run a part of the race with him. I enjoyed it. It’s the one thing I long for is a running partner. But another part of me acknowledges that he was not right for me and was slowing me down. It just shows how quickly my running strategy changed to accommodate someone else. It was a horrible feeling leaving this poor guy behind, but I had to do it.
How quickly in life we accept situations which are not what we wanted. We get into relationships which are not right for us. We fall in to a comfort zone and make excuses. Sometimes, those we are with are on a different path and will hold us back. Choices we make will either slow us down or get us to the finish line a lot quicker. It’s deciding what you want more that matters.
(By the way, if you run at 8mins/km, I’m looking for a running partner.)