Racing as a Master – my perspective has changed!
I will always like to run, whether I’m competing or not, but often enough the urge strikes me to register for a race and compete. By this I mean, run as fast as I can, test myself, and try to hit a certain time. I usually have a pretty good idea of where I will rank among finishers, depending on the size of the event. Sometimes in the smaller races I win outright, and sometimes I’m happy with a top-10 finish. I don’t really care about beating specific people, as my own time is what I’m aiming for. I would rather run with fast people who beat me but pull me to a faster time than come first with a slower time.
But I won’t lie: it’s nice to “medal”. Especially as my times are starting to slow down with age. I usually know on the start line by looking around whether I’ll be in the mix for a top-3 finish or not. In any races where there is significant prize money and elites show up, I put myself way down the list. Until this year when I turned 40. Suddenly there was a new (lower) bar. I could compete against older runners for a top podium spot! I’d be competing against women who had families, careers, and other major priorities outside of running. People who were older, busier, and fitting in training where they could.
I had mixed feelings. I knew (or thought) I would fare better in this new group, but I sort of felt like I’d been put out to pasture. I was competing against the “B” Team. Oh well – I would compete in this new category, but maybe really still measure myself against the runners in the open race.
The first race I competed in as an elite master was the Race Roster Spring Run-Off in April. It was -12C and windy (and hilly as it always is). At the beginning my toes and fingers were frozen, and by the end my mouth was too frozen to speak. But the conditions were tough for everyone. If my time wasn’t the best, I still had places to run for. And this is where I learned how tough these other masters women are! I ran one of my faster times on that course and I still didn’t make the podium as a master! This was a bit of a shock to me, but also oddly exhilarating. This is no “softie” category – these women are serious athletes who kick butt! I am so pumped to be one of them – even if I’m not the best 😉 I love having others out there setting the bar high. These ladies are fierce and fearless. They have nothing to prove to anyone. Pretty sure they’re all doing this just for themselves. The funny thing is they are also super friendly and warm and seem genuinely happy that I’ve joined their ranks. No one takes themselves too seriously. We’re all “something” first, and runners maybe second, third or fourth. But don’t let that cause you to let your guard down. We will run fast and hard all the way to the finish. I am so excited for this new phase in my competitive running. Look out ladies – I’m comin’ for ya!