Chasing Superman – My race with humans, heroes, and mutants

Batman was there. I saw him near the beginning but in typical fashion he vanished at some point, never to be seen again.

I saw Mystique and she is very intimidating in person. She stayed one step ahead of the competition pretty much the whole time. She was good and she knows it.

Thor was a total goof ball. Either his hammer was weighing him down or he was more concerned about the ladies than winning.

The Punisher was built like a Mack truck and was very steady. He was all business.

Then there was Mrs. Incredible and her group of sorority sisters. They were there purely for the social aspect.

Surprisingly, The Flash wasn’t there. Maybe he would be bored and needs a bigger challenge. It would be pretty cliche if he showed up I guess.

Nobody could touch the Green Lantern. Dang he was awesome. Pretty sure he’s on steroids. Or does CrossFit.

Running a half marathon on October 31st was quite the experience, not one that I will soon forget. It was my first race that exceeded a 10k so my biggest concern honestly was finishing without hurting myself. I’ve always been more a fast twitch guy, a sprinter if you will. I always had the highest vertical jump on the basketball team and could outrun most in the open court. A long distance race never really came easy so training was key for me. Plus I’m getting older so I can’t just get out there and wing it like I could when I was 20.

I also had family in town supporting me as I tried to conquer this “mountain” of a race. Was this race another life metaphor? Sure. But it was also just a neat way to spend a Saturday morning. I made a lot of friends without having to introduce myself. There was a built-in camaraderie that can only be explained if you participate. Right before the race began I found myself standing right next to the girl who sold me my running shoes back in July! That was weird. But when the weirdness passed and she realized why I had been staring at her, she spoke to me as an equal. She knew I wasn’t a life long runner like her, but she respected that I was there and that respect was genuine. She was not buttering me up because she wanted to sell me something. I felt like I was a runner now. I’ve been accepted in the long distance family. It’s a pretty big family of folks (human and infra-human alike). I love this new inclusive family. They even accept CrossFit people.

So I’m extremely competitive. I hate losing more than I enjoy winning. I’m that guy who wears the shirt with the Vince Lombardi quote, “If winning isn’t everything why do we keep score?” True story. It’s very unhealthy at times and in all seriousness I recognize that it can be very destructive and has caused a lot of damage over the years to my own psyche as well as to others, especially my close relationships. I have been told that running a race is unlike any athletic “competition.” It’s more of a competition with yourself, they say, and just getting the time you set for yourself. You run with people, not against people, they say. “Have you met me?” I would think. There is no way I could run a race and not want to win. There’s no way I will view the runners as teammates and not opponents. I will admit it took a LOT of focus and restraint to stay at my pace and not try and catch Mystique. It was humbling getting passed by runners who were a lot older than me. But I truly think it’s good for me. And something happened to me around mile 4 or 5. I looked around at all the runners and felt a connection with them. We weren’t competing against each other at all. We were flowing together like a giant sea anemone. We were one. We had a single goal and we were accomplishing it together. There were no evil looks on this Halloween. Only smiles, cheers and high fives. There were no villains, only heroes. I will admit there were certain runners that I set my sights on to try and “catch.” But really I wasn’t chasing them. I was chasing my own self-doubt. I really was competing against myself. I spent a good portion of the race starring at a red cape. Superman was a hard one to catch let me tell you! I honestly didn’t think I would catch him but I made it my goal to try. I actually did catch him and would eventually pass him. I think normally I would feel an accomplishment for passing him but on this day I didn’t want to pass him, I wanted to run with him! I felt grateful to him for pushing me and motivating me when I hit a wall. He had no idea that his cape was the “carrot on the string” for me.

After there was no cape to catch, I thought of my girls. “Finish this race as if they are waiting for you at the finish line.” That was all the motivation I needed and despite the pain in my left knee that hit around mile 9, I barreled toward the horizon. This was not about my placement among the runners but about how I finish. When the finish line arrived a flood of emotion arrived as well. Happiness and relief. Tears of joy followed by tears of sadness. Gratefulness to God, to my family. Sadness because of who was not there. Hope that one day they would.

Well, I am officially a believer. I’ve drunk the Kool-aid and it’s delicious, refreshing and there is zero trace of that overly competitive aftertaste you get with Gatorade. Will it cure me of my sickness? My pride that manifests itself as striving to win at everything? Probably not. But I think it will help.

If you are thinking about getting into running I have a few tips:
1. Run to music that inspires. It makes a difference.

2. Figure out the right pace for you and stick to it.

3. Sign up for a race – you won’t regret it!



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