Monday, 11 July 2016

The Race Nemesis

If you are a regular participant in road races you have undoubtedly discovered that you have a race nemesis. A race nemesis is that person you see at every event who is just slightly faster and 99% of the time crosses the finish line just ahead of you.

The race nemesis plays a very important role. Their main purpose is to motivate you to dig deep, to encourage you to push yourself just a little harder, to make you believe that you can catch them if you really put your mind to it. And to drive you slightly crazy when they beat you yet again.

My race nemesis is called Walter.

I know his name because it's always above mine in the race results. He probably doesn't even know I exist and yet he is one of my biggest motivators.

For three years Walter has beaten me at every race (except one) that we have entered. For three years he has unknowingly encouraged me to try and catch him.

So when I spotted him at the starting line for the Mews 8 K on Sunday, running along Mundy Pond Road for a warm up, I decided for the first time this year, I was going to try for a personal best. My last PB was three years ago and it was time to try and change that. Sorry girls, you're on your own.

A last minute bathroom break left me racing to the start line with about 10 seconds to spare before the starting gun. I didn't have time to find Walter so I decided that I would just run on my own and hopefully spot him somewhere along the route. If I could keep up with him, I was fairly certain I could beat my previous time.

I managed to find Renee and Paula and we ran together for a few minutes before I decided to pull ahead and see if I could catch a glimpse of Walter. I don't know why I chose him as my person, but I think it had something to do with the fact that he wears a headband when he runs. I am partial to a runner in a sweatband. 

I wasn't running with my phone so I had no idea what my pace was or how many kilometers I had clocked. I tried to listen to the voice feedback from the apps of the runners around me for some clue but I was too preoccupied with finding Walter to really take in any data or do the math to see where I was.

I pushed onward but as I neared King's Bridge Road, I realized that my chances of running across the finish line with my motivator were quickly diminishing. I hadn't even been able to catch a glimpse of him this time around. Then I saw the clock and I realized that despite not finding my pace bunny, a PB was within my reach. I crossed the mat with a chip time of 51:12, five seconds faster than my best Figure 8 time and a minute and a half faster than my last Mews. And it's all thanks to Walter. I never would have ran like I did if I hadn't been looking for him.

So Thank You, Walter. Maybe next time I'll get that finish line photo. For now, this one will have to do.

Walter and I after the race

Oh, and just a word of encouragement to those who have yet to finish ahead of their nemesis - there's one thing you should always remember:  you're someone's race nemesis too.

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