You know us. We make you feel good as you pass us on the race course. We are the ones who get the most money out of our race fees. We are still persisting, even after most spectators have gone home, and sometimes after all of the post-race food is gone. We run at a “sexy pace.” We are where the party’s at. We are the back of the pack runners.
So why am I at the back of the pack? I have asthma. I shouldn’t be a runner. I was the kid in gym class who did everything I could to get out of running the mile. (Many thanks to my gymnastics coach who wrote an excuse for me!) And yet, I somehow became a runner despite my initial dislike for this activity that once seemed like a punishment. I’m sure my middle school gym teacher (who rolled her eyes at the letter from my gymnastics coach) would be shocked at my evolution into not only a multiple marathon finisher, but an ultramarathoner.
When I started running, I did try to work on gaining speed and improving overall. But now that I’ve been at this for 10 years and with lungs that are not just asthmatic, but also survived a presumptive case of Covid early in the pandemic, I’ve come to accept the fact that I will forever be at the back of the pack. That’s ok, though. I’m in excellent company.
While we back of the pack runners may never be competitive, we sure do have fun! (well, most of the time!) We run for the joy of it. We run to burn off the crazy. We run to have an excuse to hang out with our favorite people, and even to meet new friends. We run for the experience of racing. We go on runcations. We run for the swag. We run to inspire others. But most of all, we run for us, just for the mere satisfaction of saying that we could do it.
Even if we aren’t winning races, we are still achieving so much more than most people ever dare to attempt. That makes all of the joy of finishing that much sweeter. We are simply average runners who muster up the courage to do challenging things, which in my mind, makes us more than average humans.
The photo featured is of a few of my sole sisters and me, overlooking the James River in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. This was our costume for our annual Halloween run with the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team in 2016. We were “the party in the back of the pack.”
Do you consider yourself a back of the pack runner? If you are speedy, what do you think of those of us who run races despite being slow? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.