Here's a question for you: If you do a race under less-than-optimal conditions--like you are actually doing it as a workout of sorts, or you're under the weather, or you just have a crappy race for whatever reason--can you answer the "how was your race?" question without giving that detail away? I want to be a person who can do that. But I'm also the first to admit it can be really hard.
There was a 5K in September that tons of people I know did, and I felt like utter crap so ran a pretty so-so time. And when people asked me how I did, I said something along the lines of, "I felt like utter crap, so I ran a pretty so-so time." And then I felt like a big loser. First of all, most of the people asking me were not hard-core runners, so when they found out what my actual time was, it didn't seem so-so at all to them. So I pretty much just made them feel bad--"I ran what I think is a crappy time, and I still beat you."
Second of all--why on earth should I care? What if people think I had a good race and still ended up with that time? Would they think less of me? And what if they did? One of my favorite bloggers, Ange, had a post today that kind of relates to this, about why we do what we do in racing (and other things). If I'm racing so other people can be impressed by my times, that's sort of sad and pathetic. (Plus if that were my goal, my times should really be better, frankly.)
There are very few people who need to know the real story or who would care if they did. My coach needs to know, and while my husband doesn't actually need to know, part of the marriage contract is that we listen to each other go on in excruciating detail about races, workouts, and particularly dysfunctional meetings at work. (Not that we actually said this in our vows, but it's an understanding we have.) So those are the two people who need to know. And I very much like that "coach" and "spouse" occupy the same space here--goes to show just how hard a job it must be to coach people like me. Some of my running/triathlon buddies might be legitimately interested in the ins and outs of my races, as I am in theirs, just because we're all caught up in the same thing. But there's a difference between talking about the details of your race with someone who shares your obsessive interest and making feeble excuses to someone to save face. When it's not clear anyone else thinks there is face to be saved.
On a lighter note, speaking of obsessive, my mother called me the other day to ask me the following: "Is it OK with you if I describe you and John as 'obsessive runners/triathletes' in my Christmas letter?" Putting my years of therapy to good use, I said something noncommittal like, "You should do whatever you like--it's your letter," as opposed to what I was really thinking, which was more along the lines of, "Sure--is it OK if I call you a narcissist in mine?" Maybe that's not such a light note, come to think of it.
Here's a picture from the 5K Sunday:
The guy to my right (I'm in the snazzy pink shirt, thanks) is a friend of mine--he had passed me about a quarter mile back and is in the process of kicking my a** here. I am jealous of his excellent form in this shot, never mind his very much NOT over 21 minutes finishing time. I would also like to go back in time and tell myself that, if I really want to get down this hill fast and get myself to the finish under 21 minutes, perhaps I'd like to think about LEANING FORWARD, not back. Just to be clear, this post has nothing to do with my race Sunday. I felt great, raced hard, etc. And hey, look--my hands look normal!