There are some specific thoughts that assholes think during races. How do I know this, you ask? Well, of course, I used to be that asshole. I was some elitist, healthy, almost-front-of-the-pack, snobby loser who was so concerned with what other people around me where doing/thinking/wearing that I thought all of these things at one time. HAHA Karma. You vengeful creature. It had to be because of my assholery that I recently suffered a knee injury and my running was really hit hard from it. I had to back out of a few races and I had to race a few very, very slowly so that I didn’t injure my knee again. This injury was a hard pill to swallow, but I can thank it for allowing me to see this sport from a different perspective and allow me to get out of the asshole rut that I was stuck in.
Asshole thought #1: “Why the hell is he/she walking? This is a race.”
Oh, I don’t know. There is a whole slew of reasons people might stop to walk. They are out of shape. They are coming off an injury. They are still injured. They are sick. They drank too damn much last night. They WANT TO. WHO THE HELL CARES?!??! Worry about yourself. Unless people are walking four wide in the middle of the course (hello Crescent City Classic walkers, I’m talking to you!), leave the walkers alone and continue on with your own race.
I “raced” Rock N Roll New Orleans Marathon with a bad knee. I knew it was ill advised to even attempt it, but my doctor gave me a steroid shot in my knee and told me to be smart and to pull out if it started to bother me. I had to start walking around mile 4. I walked 10 freaking miles and then pulled out at the half. That was the most miserable race ever. More on this story to be continued on a thought below.
When I first started running, I used to be so scared that I would have to walk in the middle of the race. I remember asking a friend of mine who is a runner if I should even sign up for the San Francisco Marathon since I might have to walk on the course. Now, I’m just happy to get it done, walking or no walking. My injury was a hard pill to swallow. As I was being passed by people who seemed completely out of shape or who were just racing for fun, I was reminded that I just need to do what I can do. What a great lesson for everyone- just do what you can do and don’t WORRY about what everyone is doing.
I don’t know HOW many times I have wondered if I would be the last one at a race. I used to only want to do large races because I didn’t want to come in last. That last person raced too. They came across the finish line. Who am I to judge their journey? We all have to go through our own journey through running. If your journey includes walking an entire race, more power to you.
Asshole thought #2: “Who trips and falls during a race? Watch where you’re going!”
Who trips? A lot of people. It doesn’t make them idiots; it just happens. Whether it be at the beginning of a largely populated race or in the potholed streets of a bad course, falls happen.
To continue with my story about RnR New Orleans- as I have said, I started walking at mile 4 with terrible pain in my right knee. At mile 6, my knee buckled and I fell. I fell. On the pavement. In the middle of A ROCK N ROLL event (meaning, of course, that a million people almost trampled me.) Did everyone around me know that I’m fighting issues including chrondromalacia patella, ITB friction syndrome, discoid meniscus, and patellar tendonitis? No. and they didn’t care. Not one person offered to help me. Why? Because they are all ASSHOLES who think Asshole thought #2. Of course I started crying and couldn’t stop, both because my knee hurt and my pride was shot, and the stupid photographers for the marathon kept snapping pictures of me. The only person throughout the entire course who asked if I was okay was a homeless man on the side of the road around mile 7. Bless you, who ever you are. I was humbled, embarrassed, disappointed, and discouraged from my experience with this race, but it has made me a more caring and understanding racer.
Asshole thought #3: “The end is RIGHT there- finish strong. What is wrong with you?”
WORRY ABOUT YOURSELF damnit. Who knows why they are having issues at the finish and why are you even worried about it? People don’t wear shirts with their issues on them. Wouldn’t it be easier to judge if everyone had to wear a certified t-shirt that specified their issue, like “I am suffering from ITB Friction Syndrome”, “I didn’t take enough salt on the course” or “this is my first run back since gallbladder surgery”?
You NEVER know what someone is going through. Even the best runners have issues. My husband broke his leg in November at the National Championship Long Course Duathlon in Dallas. He was out until January and was working really hard to get back into race shape in order to qualify for Boston this year. Do you know how many people were like “OOOOH Charles running slow on that 5K!” or “Woohoo I just beat Charles in a race finally. He’s moving slow.” Yeah, asshole, because he broke his leg. Why are you so worried about him? Shouldn’t you be worried about your own PR? Please do.
Back to RnR New Orleans- If I hobbled in at almost 20 minute miles, do you think I’m going to be sprinting in to the end? Get off my back. Quit telling me that someone behind me is going to beat me. No shit. I’m aware. And guess what? I DON’T CARE. The only thing I am concerned with is getting across this stupid finish line and getting some ice on my enormous swollen knee. Keep your jeers to yourself.
When I was waiting for my husband to finish the Zydeco marathon, I noticed one woman yelling at the finishers “GO! HE’S ABOUT TO CATCH YOU! GO! MOVE!” in an ugly fashion to two different people. The first woman she was yelling at was a half marathoner. She was finishing as a marathoner was coming up behind her. A marathoner. Someone who runs twice as fast as her since he’s finishing 26.2 and she was finishing 13.1. She was proud of her accomplishment, but you could see her face fall when that woman was yelling that he was going to take her. That made me so angry. The second guy she yelled at was a marathoner finishing who was really moving slow. After she yelled at him that someone was about to “beat” him, he collapsed, clearly dehydrated. It took two volunteers to help him walk across the finish line before going straight to the medical tent.
We all finish the way we can. Some races are strong, some, we are just happy to finish. Leave your judgements in your own head. No one else needs to hear that shit.
Asshole thought #4: “Really? You need water at mile one?”
Yeah. I’m thirsty. Shut the hell up.
Asshole thought #5: “Who stops to take a selfie at a mile marker? Race damnit!”
This really took me a long time to understand, as I’m a super competitive person and I am constantly trying to beat myself and PR. Ready for it? Ready?
Not everyone is like me.
That is THE most important thing that I had to understand in order to understand other people’s goals. Not everyone is racing for a PR. Some people are just trying to get to a finish line to show that they can. Some people are trying to lose weight. Some people are running for others who cannot. Some people are *gasp* just trying to have fun.
It was not until my injury that I understood why people stop to take selfies of the beautiful scenery or the mile markers. Because they can. Because they want to. And what the HELL does that have to do with me? Are they in my way? (The people who stopped in the MIDDLE of the course to selfie on the Golden Gate Bridge during the San Francisco Marathon- I still don’t forgive you. Move off to the side.)
Realizing that everyone has a different agenda and a different purpose for racing helped me understand so much about running in general.
Asshole thought #6: “Omg- I can’t believe I finished in such a terrible time.” and similar bitching about your race and accomplishment.
When we are upset by our results, we tend to complain about our bodies, our abilities, our training, the race, etc. The problem comes in when you did SO MUCH BETTER than someone else, yet you complain about how terrible you did. You know what you’re telling them? Ha- you did even worse!
I had a rough run at the Louisiana Marathon. I am normally a sub 5 hour marathoner, but for Louisiana, I finished in 5:04. I was not happy. When that 5 hour pacer passed me, I cried. I was so upset that I wasn’t going to keep my goal.
The next day, someone I know who raced asked me how I did. My response: “Terrible. Slow as shit. My knee was really starting to hurt.” He asked my time- I told him. I asked his time- it was over an hour behind me. If I’m slow as shit, then what was I telling him about my thoughts on his own race?
I know what you’re thinking- who cares? Why would you be offended by someone else complaining about their race? I just know that that kind of comment would hurt my feelings, yet I was the one who was putting down his accomplishment. He was very happy with his performance. Who am I to say that it wasn’t good enough. I’ve definitely learned to keep my complaints to myself and celebrate my accomplishments and those around me.
During the Tupelo Marathon, my husband was leading the race. He was on pace to win the entire marathon and qualify for Boston. At mile 21, he fell apart. He was white as a ghost and needed medical attention. He was so thankful that a group of back of the pack halfers were coming by who were all nurses. They nursed him back to health and walked with him all the way to the finish line. He was so thankful for their generosity and care. Who would have been there to help if everyone was as fast as he was? No one. Those women were happy with their race. Their results may not have been what I would have been happy with, but again, NOT EVERYONE IS ME.
My final thought on all of this? Live and let live. Let people race how they want to race, as long as they are following the rules and not impeding your race. You never know what people are going through, so accept everyone as a member of the running community and worry about yourself. That was a lesson learned the hard way for me, but it really helped me get out of my own way and enjoy myself at whatever fitness level I am at.
To anyone I have judged or offended in the past, I’m sorry. I hope I’m over my asshole-ish ways.