T.I.L.T. #137 — Wanna Race?

Tomorrow is race day, ladies and gentleman. Time for the 30th Vegesacker City Lauf through the heart of the pedestrian zone and along the riverfront where I live. For those of you who don’t speak German, Lauf does not mean a loaf of bread or to be lazy around the house — it means a race, a running race to be exact. And for the first time in my life, tomorrow I’ll be joining the crowd not on the sidelines but actually competing in the race itself as a runner in the 5K category.

Ok, competing is perhaps a stretch since my goal is simply to finish without keeling over. Of course if I do, luckily it’s only around the corner from my house so I should at least be able to crawl home. No, I’m basically competing with myself which really is the whole point of running. Then again, sporty wifey has also entered the race with me and there is a bit of natural competition between us of who will beat who.

We’re very excited because nether of us have ever done such a thing. It’ll be kind of a race between Mr. and Mrs. Tortoise. As I wrote in my Fitbit My Butt post several weeks ago, we got the idea to try and get in shape by running and using an app called from Couch to 5K. For the last nine weeks a virtual trainer called Sergeant Block has been motivating us along and telling us when to run and walk and ‘keep moving’!

As silly as it sounds, it worked amazingly well. Wifey finished the program yesterday. Having never been a runner in her life she was scared at first for the idea of even running more than a minute or two consecutively. Now she can run for thirty minutes at a stretch and keeps getting faster. Maybe she’s also motivated now that she’s discovered a whole new world of running fashion and accessories to be coveted — another reason to go shopping and now she can zip around the mall faster thane ever and never get tired. Hmmm. This may have been a huge mistake.

Anyway, I have one more session to go which I will actually do at the race itself — this last week was hard for me since I lost a week of training due to flu. I was actually not sure if I’d be able to recover in time to do the race which was a sad thought since the goal of running in the race has kept me focused and made me get out there and run come rain or shine, week in, week out. Besides, I want Sergeant Block to be proud of me. Hoo-yeah!

The thing that interests me now is to experience what it is like to run with lots of other runners at the same time. What is essentially a solo activity where I enjoy meditating and relaxing my mind as the scenery floats by, will suddenly be a herd of fellow runners trying to see who is the fastest in the pack. Will I run faster, carried along by the wave of communal energy channeling its way through the tight course, like a river runs faster through a mountain pass than in the wide curving bends of the flatlands? Or will I be stressed, thinking too much about running, pushing myself too hard to run at the right pace for me because some instinct in me does not want to be the slowest.

I have a particular fear of this ever since way back in high school, when I was the definitive fat kid, I was the slowest and always last. The cool, cruel kids nicknamed me ‘Slow-Mo’ because even the fattest girl in the class could outrun me. Maybe that sounds sexist, but it was humiliating for a newly pubescent teenage dude. I actually still have some flashback nightmares once in  while, where I’m trying to run and for some reason I’m stuck in slow motion, forever unable to move fast despite all my efforts, horrified at my own pathetic physical prowess. Maybe next time I have this nightmare, Sergeant Block will shout at me, “Come on, Private Slow-Mo, is yo ass made of molasses!”

Why my sub-conscious still broods about this is beyond me. I’ve come a long way since then, ever relearning in my own way the victories that only slowness, patience, and endurance can bring. As much as I might admire the athleticism of the hares of the world, flying by in their speedy pursuit of carrots of all kinds, I really do prefer to think that step by slow step my journey will take me where I want to go at a pace that will make it all the more satisfying. Maybe every tortoise has some sort of hare-envy complex, but likely the reverse is true is well. I mean, who wants to be fast all the time? OK, maybe Sergeant Block, but hey, he’s not exactly human!

So wish us luck tomorrow, sports fans around the world, as we put our old fears aside and stride by stride, strive do real a goal we’ve never reached before: the finish line of a running race. I would say, may the best tortoise win, but as far as I can tell wifey and I are both winners just for getting out there and trying.

Then again, the day of the big race just happens to be sporty wifey’s birthday. So maybe, just maybe I should let her win. I wonder what Sergeant Block would do. He’d probably just sing, something like . . .

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy hirthday Sporty Wifey, happy birthday to you!

Keep moving!


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