My dear boyfriend and I have been dating for almost 2 years now. Without completely boring you with all of the gory details of our relationship, lets just say that exercise and fitness is important to both of us. He is a former Division I college basketball player, and upon graduation from college, decided that he needed to move on and get a “real” job rather than trying to pursue his hoop dreams a la Michael Jordan. In any case, he still plays recreational basketball, runs (a little), lifts weights, and really enjoys participating in a grossly overpriced (I’ll save that rant for another day) martial arts class twice a week. Did I mention that he runs (a little)?
In July, I was nosing around the active.com website, as I do regularly, and came across The Police Pace 5K Race, which is an annual race that benefits a local police department. Since my dear boyfriend decided to ditch hooping in favor of policing a few years back, this was a cause that we could both feel good about running for…IF I could convince him to run. See, he doesn’t like running at all. He will occasionally run 2 miles on the treadmill at the gym, but by no means does he make a habit of it. He does everything else to compensate for not running.
I knew that the name “Police Pace” would get him. I barely even had to bribe him to do it.
The race was on a Saturday, so my long-legged honey and I decided to run the course on Wednesday night after work, the week of the race. I had previously run this course once the year before for a different race, so I was vaguely familiar. The one thing I did recall was that there was an abundance of hills. Big hills, little hills, medium hills. Hills rolling into hills. It was quite uncomfortable if my memory served me correctly. So, the week of the race, we ran the course. Backwards. Ok, well not literally backwards, but the opposite direction of how we would run it during the race. I was disoriented when we got to the park, and I just started running. Turns out that we made a wrong turn and ended up going the wrong way. The course was MUCH easier going the other way, but we had skipped an entire portion of the course, so I ended up running only about 2.5 miles in a circle back to the truck. My dedicated boyfriend just kept running until his Nike + told him that he had gone 3.1 miles. Such a trooper. When he got back to the truck AFTER me, he thought that I had ran faster than him. I didn’t have the heart to correct him.
In a truly loving gesture, he offered the next day to run the race with me.
“Honey, ya know…as long as you’re not going to run TOO slow, I’ll just run the race with you.” ***Enter visions of running across the finish line holding hands in a romantic fashion…gross.
I said “That’s very nice, but I really run better by myself, and I’m just an ugly runner…I don’t want to put you through that.” What he doesn’t realize is that the effort it takes for me to propel my body 3.1 miles without keeling over and dying is enormous. I have asthma, so my run is filled with coughing, heavy breathing, and I’m sure the occasional snort every now and again.
He insisted, so I went with it.
Race day was lovely. I had been training a little to run this race, so I was feeling very confident. Yes, I’m still at the point where I need to train for a 5K. Stop laughing. I regress...race day was lovely. Great fall weather (9/7/08), huge turnout, I was ready to kick some butt. We took off with the pop of the gun, and after spending the first 4-5 minutes milling through the crowd to fall into my comfortable pace, I noticed that my dear boyfriend looked like he was painfully holding himself back. Sidebar: I am 5’5”, and he is 6’2”…in hindsight, the pure physics involved with him running at my pace seems nearly impossible. I nudged him to go ahead.
The first time I ran the same course in 2006, I finished in 34:30. Pathetic, but I finished. I was so psyched when I crossed the finish line at 32:25 this year. I was literally overjoyed. Stop laughing.
Drenched in sweat and barely breathing, I started searching for my boyfriend. After a few glances around, I found him. Chatting. Dry. Calm. Cool. He was literally standing there chatting with a friend that he just ran into. I was immediately irritated, but still happy that I finished. “Babe…I finished in 32:25! Can you believe it??!!”
“Yeah, that’s really good! I’m proud of you!”
“How long have you been here waiting for me??!!”
“Oh, I don’t know…about 10 minutes I think.”
Yep. The man who runs (a little) finished in 24:21. Disgusting. Makes me want to kick him in the shin. However, this little story speaks volumes about early conditioning and natural ability. My dear boyfriend, The Gazelle, has been playing organized sports since he was about 6 years old. When he misbehaved as a young child, rather than spank or yell at him, his father made him do push ups. Brilliant. It started him on a path of fitness that he never let go of, and now at the ripe age of 28, he can still run a 7:51/mile with no training.
Me…not so much.