Well, someone yelled that very phrase at me this morning, and my response was... well... we'll get to that.
The incident got me thinking: How would my reaction have been different, to those same words, under other circumstances?
Your coach yells: C'mon, pick up the pace! Reaction: Shame.
Coach caught you sandbagging and called you out on it. You are probably angry, but can't tell if you're angry at yourself or at your coach. You pick up the pace, even if you don't want to, because you're pissed and because coach is probably right.
Your long-time running buddy says: C'mon, pick up the pace! Reaction: Compliance.
You dig in and find another gear to keep up. You might grumble or shoot back a "You've got to be kidding?" But you know your running buddy is right, so you push on. If it just happens to be the kind of day where you can't find the energy to rally, you also know that your running buddy will understand. Because that running buddy has seen you at your best and at your worst. That running buddy has probably seen you knocking out hill repeats like a Kenyan, but has also seen you sidelined with stomach cramps. And it's all ok.
Your race-day rival (and possible mortal enemy) taunts: C'mon, pick up the pace! Reaction: Fury.
You want to kick the smirk off of Rival's face. You fantasize about the gal (or guy) tripping over a loose shoelace 200 meters from the finish line as you cruise by to an age group award. You are secretly filled with glee when you find out that your chip time was 20 seconds faster than hers.
Your neighbor jokes, as you run by: C'mon, pick up the pace! Reaction: Laughter.
You know your neighbor is just teasing to be neighborly. This "pick up the pace" is more of an acknowledgement that you're out running than it is a commentary on your level of effort. You yell back: "Get off your damned porch and join me!" with a smile on your face.
A race-day spectator yells: C'mon, pick up the pace! Reaction: Indignation.
You think to yourself: "You get out here and run you lazy F%#$@!& windbag!" and realize later that you forgot to use your "inside voice." Oops. (But, then again, the jerk deserved it.)
So, which "C'mon, pick up the pace!" do you think I heard this morning? Do you have any context-shifted stories to share? An event that ruined your day, when in other circumstances it would have been no big thing? An event that made you laugh, when in other circumstances it might have made you cry?