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"

Monday, March 19, 2012

I AM A WINNER

That's right: I won a race this past weekend.

Yes, as in first place.
No, I was not the only participant.
Yes, I swear! I really won first place!
Okay, fine: yes, it was handicapped, so I also started first. But more importantly: I finished first.

AND I WON. A prize and everything. (A bottle of Jameson and a hamper of seafood - not too shabby, eh?)


The race: a handicapped 4m race, with a drink at the start, a drink at the 2m mark, and a drink at the finish. All three drinks were on the clock.

So let me tell you about the psychology of winning. This isn't something I knew anything about until Saturday, but now that I'm a winner, I'm basically an expert and thus I can school you on it. We had our choice of beer or whiskey - I chose whiskey, as it was easier and faster to drink down. As the winner, I stand behind my choice.


I started first, with a two minute lead on most of the competitors and a 10+ minute lead on the speediest two (there were eight competitors total). I wasn't surprised to reach the turnaround in first place, given my lead on the next few runners. Sure enough, they were less than a quarter of a mile behind me when I started up running again. In particular, one of the speediest runners was right on me. (First bit of winner psychology: I very nicely smiled and gave him a high-five so he wouldn't sense that I was out for blood.)

When I saw him that close behind me, I didn't think there was any way to hold on to my pace, especially considering the reality of the situation: the next two miles were rolling hills, and I was drunk as a skunk.


My tongue was lead, I was lightheaded, and I couldn't feel my legs. All I could tell was that my pace had slowed and it was becoming harder to run in a straight line.

When I got to the three mile mark and no one had caught up with me, I began to entertain the idea that maybe - maybe - I could place second. I tried to pick up the pace. By mile 3.5, I told myself that I had less than 5 minutes left and that I just needed to gut it out.

Every set of footfalls I heard behind me became a competitor gaining on me. I didn't dare turn around and look - not only would that be inefficient for my form, but I didn't want him to sense my fear. I didn't even glance at my watch - my arms were for pushing me toward the finish, not anything frivolous like checking my pace. (Besides, you could have told me I was running a 7 minute mile or a 12 minute mile and I would have believed you. Did I mention I was drunk?)

I turned the corner to the finish, charged the last 50 meters, downed a final shot of whiskey, and stopped my watch at 37:12 - a new 4 mile PR by over two minutes.


I was declared the winner, I collected my whiskey prize, and I posed for photos. The world is a different place when you're a winner. People are kinder. They respect you more. They can sense "winner" on you; they know you're special.


There's a small chance that I might have a bruise on my stomach from clutching my Jameson too tightly.



(Photos courtesy of these two lovely ladies.)

29 comments:

  1. Hahaha, you look totally plastered at the second to last picture! Hilarious! And yay!

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    1. I think I'll go add the photo where I'm on the ground to the end. Yep, I will.

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  2. I can sense the "special" already... Congratulations!

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    1. I was slurring my speech at the end. It was... bad. But also good.

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  3. Awesome does not begin to describe this. Congrats on a fantastic first place finish. And how did only 8 people sign up for that???

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    1. I know, right? I think it was in part because the NYC Half was the next day, and loads of people were running that. I will say - I was a WRECK the next morning.

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  4. Replies
    1. Thank you! It really was awesome fun. I consider it practice for my beer mile. Date: TBD.

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  5. This is the best race report I've ever read. I felt like I was right there with you...slurred speech, concentrating on remaining upright, pressing forward. The fact that you got a PR out of it? Now THAT is badass.

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    1. To be fair, my old PR was kind of soft. And it's not like the race was chip-timed, but Garmins are infallible, right?

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  6. Congrats Tracy! What a fun day that was!

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    1. Thank you! You were a formidable opponent... but not formidable enough :)

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  7. Congratulations Tracy! Sounds like it was blast. Way better than any St. Patty's Day race I've ever heard of.

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  8. Very sorry I missed this...you all will have to do it again :)

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    1. I WILL DO THIS ANY TIME ANYONE WANTS.

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  9. How much whiskey is in that green solo cup?!!

    Also, this is fantastic.

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  10. Just a shot.
    Random fact about Tracy that didn't come out in the race recap: the shot that I took at the beginning of the race was my lifetime third shot ever.

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  11. Go bitch go!! So proud of you.

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    1. It really was MY race. Finally. Finally!

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  12. I want to recreate this race here.

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    1. I would so go home for that. In a second.

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  13. Is this that new NYC group with all the awesome themed runs?!

    That is a hell of a fast 4 miler for being wasted! Awesome! Congrats!

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