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Making Peace with the Human Race (Sort Of)

Posted Oct 28 2009 12:00am

Nike Human Race

Coming off back to back half marathons (specifically: the Long Beach Half immediately followed by the Nike Women’s Half Marathon) the last thing on my mind was following up with a third consecutive week of racing. Hey, how about a 10K at midnight? Uh, no thanks. How about a personal invite from Nike to be a VIP blogger for the The Human Race in Downtown LA? Wait, what? Even better… how about in exchange for taking part of the event, have a free pair of Lunarglides to test ride during the run. Like I would say no to a race anyway…

As tired and hyper focused on the next half as I was, when the call came from Nike to join the LAist folks, I was literally off to the races… in poor condition as I was.

I remember running the Human Race last year (my very first 10k) we had started at 8pm and Kanye West did a concert at the end. This year’s Human Race was a little different… You had the option of running the race virtually, there was no official timing system, and LA’s race started at midnight (ZOMG).

Race week: I just flew in from SF Tuesday in the middle of the night to half recoup the following few days before the race. Not the easiest time to go through, I was worn out from the third week in a row of taper/recovery runs and was dying to get back to real training so I could focus on my speedwork. When Friday evening rolled around and my Lunarglides arrived along with some other Nike swag, I started to get excited again. I had been dying to own a pair of Lunarglides ever since I tested them at the Nike Expo in SF.

I had recruited my friend Jen to join in the racing at midnight festivities since misery loves company. I met her and one of her buddies around 9pm so we could get ready and don our matching red tech tees to the Coliseum in Downtown LA. Upon arrival, we were lost in a sea of 8,000 runners (75% of them in their early 20s or younger). Despite being super anxious about the race, running at midnight, what might be lurking in the shadows of Figueroa, it was easy to get distracted by the music (Diplo anyone?), the gait analysis, beer shack and buff USC college athletes roaming about.

Midnight finally strikes. We’re off! I immediately lose my friend Jen. Armed with a dimly lit Garmin and my Nike+ system, you’d think it would be easy to keep pace. At least beat my last Human Race time. That’s the way it might have worked out perhaps if I hadn’t had milk and cookies as pre-race fuel for dinner. Milk? Really? Mile 4 hits and I come crashing down with the soul crushing stomach cramps. Keeling over, sweating, I thought about not finishing the race. DNF a fun run. Who does that? DNF a 10k after back to back halves? Damn me and my pride. I tried not to think about it, ran through a tunnel and distracted myself with the thumping music… is that really Diplo? Awesome! Back to shoving along… slowly. Of course I finished, painful and stupid as I felt for trying. I focused on flowing with the rest of the crowd, letting them carry me along the way with their pace.

I even managed to sprint towards the finish line… as soon as I saw a girl ahead of me in white Victoria Secret sweat pants with PINK across the butt, I told myself I had to finish ahead her. As I passed her and ran to the finish… all the pain, the tears, the complete dejection and heartache immediately washed away. The lights, the music, the crowd (where did all these people come from?) the end of the race. I can’t help but be happy crossing a finish line, even during my worst race with my personal worst time, I was happy when I crossed.

I remembered at that moment why I was there… the same reason as the other 7,999 people were there. We were runners, people who understood the true meaning of self-satisfaction and personal improvement. People who thrive in constantly raising the bar on themselves. No one loves to run because it’s easy. When it came to the Human Race, Nike made a great show of promoting the sport worldwide and raising awareness via the LA race for a great cause, Pete Carroll’s A Better LA – a very cool charity near and dear to my heart.

I finished in 1hr 10min not a PR but not terrible all things considered. Even with the mishaps, the fatigue and not the brightest racing schedule, I would do it again. Nike races are always fun, even if you find yourself in Downtown LA in the middle of the night wearing nothing but your running clothes,  an iPod, a ton of sweat and a grimace… it’s fun. Just Do It. Sure, why not?

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