Running as community…

Well, for the second time in my less-than-two-years-old running life, I’ve gotten myself into a race I really wanted to get into…

…and ended up being made to feel guilty for getting in and worthless for not being speedy.

Thanks to other runners.

Last year it was the New York City Half Marathon. I entered the lottery and by some stroke of luck got in. Only to have my excitement dampened by people irate that they weren’t chosen (admittedly, NYRR should have been more forthcoming to begin with about the lottery pools, but still, it’s a LOTTERY and you know you’re taking a chance) – some fussing about “slow runners” who were taking up “their” spaces, others spewing how it was a stupid course and they really didn’t want to do it anyway. A few people being supportive, but by far many, many more who seemed determined to make those of us who got in feel guilty and miserable about getting in. At least that’s how it felt to me, and very quickly my excitement turned to something very close to “I wish I hadn’t even bothered.”

This year, it’s the Broad Street Run. I had debated running it last year, but debated too long so that I missed getting in when it closed out after about 4 days. I set my eyes on it this year – to the point that my training plan is already on my training log and in my calendar. I set the alarm on my cell to remind me when it almost time for registration to open. I marked it on my calendar. When I saw “early in the morning of February 15” I checked just after midnight. Then again around 5am. Then I saw “shortly before 10am”. Around 9:40 I started checking, and at about 9:45 I got to the registation screen. It was slow, and at times I wondered if it was going to go through, but within about 10 minutes, I had my confirmation email/receipt and my welcome email!

I was in!

I heard from a friend on ROTE that people in her tri club were freaking out about the website having problems (here’s a hint…the fees at active.com may be a pain, but at least they seem to have servers capable of handling high demand events – marathonguide.com might not have had fees, but clearly you get what you pay for. or don’t in this case.). Just as I was leaving school, I learned that the race sold out in 5 hours.

I went to their facebook page and rather than being greeted with posts from people excited about being in, I was greeted with irate posts from many, many people. I don’t blame the people who were simply complaining about the registration server issues, and this post isn’t about them. I completely understand frustration at that. The race directors know how popular this race is. They know how quickly it sold out last year, and they can clearly see how quickly other races (Boston, Chicago, etc.) have sold out since last year’s race. They should have been more prepared to handle that, and if it meant changing the company handling the registration, so be it. Those posts of frustration were understandable. 100%.

It’s the other posts I encountered there. Posts spouting hatred for anyone who dared to enter the race with anything but a sub-8 minute mile (in one case the guy said 12 minute mile, but then went on to say that if you can’t meet 12 minute miles you obviously haven’t done any races). Posts encouraging people to push walkers (and I would assume run/walkers if we happen to be unfortunate enough to be walking when one of them is near) off the course. And yes, posts from people saying either they didn’t get in but it’s ok because it sucks (so why did you try and get in?) or posts just saying how its overrated and they don’t know why anyone would want to bother.

In short, posts that made me feel guilty and miserable about getting in. And posts that made me repeatedly ask one question.

What happened to running being such a supportive community??

I mean, you hear stuff like that all the time. Runners are great and support each other. Runners encourage each other. Running is a wonderful community.

And I agree. Yes, a lot of times that’s true. Though I’m slow (though well within the 15 minute mile requirement for Broad Street), I’ve generally been accepted and encouraged by my running club, even the speedier ones. And ditto others I’ve met through various forums. Most are extremely supportive.

And then there are assholes who think that unless you’re constantly out there damaging yourself (or damn near close to it) pushing pushing pushing you’re not a “real runner”. And many of those feel that in that case you don’t belong in races. And oh were those jerks evident last night.

And then there was a glimmer of light. Someone else posted what I’d been thinking. Basically, I went to the page to share my excitement with others – and maybe get a little encouragement but instead found all that hate and vitriol (again, those ONLY fussing about the registration process I have no issue with as that was understandable). And amazingly (or not), restoring my faith in the community of runners, several people responded, stating how even though they were back-of-packers they still felt totally encouraged and supported when race day came. They were totally supportive and they even seemed put out with all the jerks spewing hatred. Yay!

And the more I thought about it, I realized something. I took all that fear of not being good enough I felt with all the brouhaha over the NYC Half last year and set a 7 minute PR for the half. I can do that again with Broad Street. (Well, not the 7 minute PR thing as I’ve not run a 10-miler yet, but you know what I mean.) Take all the fear of not being good enough and push myself to do the very best I can. And I’ve got the added advantage with this of having a full training plan time-frame to work with (unlike less than a complete training plan time frame between the Disney Half and the NYC Half).

I can do this.

And if I ever need a reminder that I’m good enough, I need only look at my Road ID and the quote I picked for the flip side. “There will be days when I don’t know if I can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime knowing I did.”

Yes, I did!

And yes I will kick Broad Street’s butt!

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2 thoughts on “Running as community…

  1. Don’t let that stuff get to you. People always complain and the fact is you were on top of your game. Everyone deserves a spot in a race and I’ve been closed out of races before, but there are always others. Anyway, have fun and don’t listen to others, just do what works for you and you’ll be all the happier for it. Seems like you know that already though!

    Josh

  2. I just found your blog and I *love* it. I have been running my entire life and have always found the running community to be incredibly supportive of each other. There will always be negative people out there, and it is sometimes difficult to not let them influence you, but for every negative person, you just have to remember there are 10 times as many cheering you on! At the end of the day it isn’t about how fast each of us is or in what order we cross the finish line it is simply that we went out, did our best, and had a good time. Good luck with your training!

    Julie

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