Enjoyed the good weather and the company of a good friend. Had a good run and made a pretty good finish time considering the difficulty of the course.
Finishing a 5k is usually accompanied by a 'runner's high'-- a euphoric sensation that screams, "Holy crap, I just ran three miles!" It's a great feeling-- a rush of accomplishment and pride. It's a personal source of happiness and it's one of the main reasons I find the time, usually sacrificing sleep, to train regularly.
In this particular race, along with my usual high, I got an epiphany.
I was about halfway through the course when I realized that my energy level was pretty strong and stable. (Cross-training on my non-run days has really made the difference.) My pace, though not particularly fast, was consistent. As I progressed through the course, I was able to pass people as their endurance started to fail them. I've been running these races for the last year and in that time I've found myself passed by seniors and preggos and moms with double jogging strollers on many more occasions than I would care to admit.
But this race was different. I was the one doing the passing. And it felt awesome.
In the final stretch, the last half-mile or so, I found myself fourth in a line of runners. The three people ahead of me were all men, probably in their late-thirties/early-forties. We were all pretty close to each other and I had this unexplained impulse to overtake them.
The first guy was cake. He seemed to be slowing down and I didn't have to work too hard to pass him.
The second was my favorite. He seemed to be struggling hard and sweating harder. He had a bit of a belly and I know this because he was running while lifting up his shirt. Like a girl gone wild at Mardi Gras, he was displaying his hairy chest and abdomen for all to see. I honestly don't know how he managed to hold the position for so long, hands pulled up to his shoulders while he continued to pound along the course. It was a nice distraction from the race and I had to resist turning back for another look once I had passed him.
The third was 'the guy in the orange shirt', who I'll affectionately refer to as 'Orange'. Orange, I think, could sense me making my move. At this point, there was probably less than a quarter-mile left. I came up gradually and ran just behind him until I was ready to make a decisive run for it. I passed him, but never built a decent lead. He was able to overtake me again fairly quickly. An instant rivalry was born, and I charged. I passed him, but again Orange came right around me. We continued like this for the last 60 seconds or so of the race, but it felt like so much longer.
This was competiton.
Besides an occasional heated game of air hockey or Rummikub with my husband, I am not a competitor. I never played a sport, never ran for a position of any kind, never even entered a cheesy radio contest. I'm a formidable Jeopardy oponent, but only on my couch, as I would never actually be a contestant. In my career and in my family life, cooperation is the name of the game. And don't get me wrong, cooperation is good, but this was something altogether different.
This was awesome.
This was, in fact, so awesome that I was completely caught up in the moment. And in the last few seconds, Orange sailed right past me and over the finish line.
But this story isn't about winning or losing.
It's about an awakening.
And next time, Orange better bring it.