Slightly belated, but better late than never.
I'll keep it short and sweet.
On New Year's Eve, I ran the NYRR's annual 4m fun run. I did this race last year and, if you remember, I didn't much like it. It was too fun. Not that I wanted a competitive race, per se, but I wasn't feeling well and there were too many people all up in my way, basically.
This year I was more relaxed. After dinner, including a drink even, our group of four changed into running clothes and headed for the start. It was cold but not too cold. It was crowded, but it could have been worse. The fireworks were long, but why was I in such a rush?
And we were off! I stayed with my friend JB for most of the race, which surprised me. I know he was going slowly, but his marathon time is right around 4 hours, so I was shocked he was willing to let me tail him.
It's nice running in Central Park after dark, even with as many people as there were. Being slightly faster this year than last meant that many of the complete novice runners - the ones who had bothered me last year, walking four abreast, smoking (yes!), or wearing jeans - were behind us. We didn't stop for "champagne" at the half but soldiered on. JB left me behind just after 3 miles. I was slowing down on the hills but he was speeding up.
Toward the end, as soon as I knew the finish was ahead, I put on speed for the finish. Two women ahead of me were swerving around, and I said, "excuse me!" as I passed them. One of them apologized quietly, but the other one said, "GOD! Why are you in such a hurry?" in a very annoyed, rude voice as I passed. That kind of made me laugh. Um, because it's a race?
I liked the race. I mean, the fun run. The appeal is obvious: start your ear off with something healthy. But it's cold, cold, cold. JB and I stood at the finish, shivering, waiting for our slowpoke companions to crawl across the finish nearly 20 minutes later. And then, because it was new year's and we were wearing sweaty running clothes, we went out for pizza and beer.
On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"