Yes, I’m a slow runner. And I’m proud of that. Even though it takes me awhile to cross the finish line, I’m persistent enough (or bull-headed enough, if you ask my sisters) to get there.
But, in spite of truly believing that being a slow runner is better than not being a runner at all, I’m here to tell you that it can really suck at times. As slow runners, we experience depleted recovery refreshments; wrong size finisher’s shirts (even though we register our size early in the process); staff and volunteers showing impatience to pack up their stations. And, honestly, I’m still upset about not receiving a tiara several years ago during the Honolulu Diva race (even though I’m not the princessy type… hey, I payed for that bling, just like everybody else!).
Although the vast majority of the running community is kind to and supportive of us slowbies, I’ve had a faster runner physically push me aside while making snarky comments about the race course being cluttered with slower participants. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve overheard conversations like, “I’m so slow, I’m only running 10 minute miles.” So frustrating to hear when my all-time record is a 10 1/2 minute mile during the State Street Mile. One Mile. Downhill. All out.
So, even though I’m okay with being a slow runner, I recently decided to try to figure out why I’m so slow. Is it possible that my history of asthma is responsible? Is there anything I should be doing differently? I spoke with my physician who referred me to a pulmonologist. Over the last several weeks, both my lungs and my heart have been scanned. I’ve sat in a clear, sealed telephone-style booth and breathed into gadgets while the volume of the input and the output of my lungs was measured. I performed one of those bicycle tests with electrodes everywhere and an oxygen meter on my finger and a mask over my face.
Got the good news today. After a thorough and extensive (and expensive) work-up, all systems are looking great. All the tests show I’m performing as well as others in my age group. The pulmonologist says that he can’t give me an answer as to why my endurance is so bad. The recommendation: if running is important to me, maybe I should hire a personal trainer and do some sprints?
So, my questions go unanswered. Why do I poop out after running a half mile when I’ve been training for about 3 years now? Shouldn’t I be able to run at least a mile straight? Why do people who appear to be more out of shape than I am and who appear to be much older than I am pass me by as if I am standing still?
Although I’m thrilled that my almost 50 year-old body is holding up, I’m still at the back of the pack. And, in spite of the earlier rant, I’m still okay with that.
So, keep on (slow) running!