Chasin’ the Harrier Dragon

My name is Jennifer and I have a running jones.

At the start of the year, I gave up 26.2-mile training in favor of doing as many 13.1 races as possible in 2012: easier to train for, easier to complete, easier to do more races. Instead of building towards a crescendo of a single large race in the fall, I’ve been race-ready since my first half-marathon in March.

I’ve run 5 half’s as we call ’em over 4 months across 4 states…pinch me, will ya? Number 6 is just weeks away, to be followed by a few more plus a 200-mile team relay before 2012 is officially over.

This rational thought process has allowed me to do other things besides running on my weekends like kayaking, especially now that I found someone of the male persuasion who can actually stand me on a regular basis.

Then again, I have a compulsive competitive feeling towards running, a true jones. When I’m out getting life done and spot runners enjoying what appears to be a healthy jaunt at a good clip, this oftentimes creates a crazed feeling toward pulling my car over and joining them. Of course, this is likely only to happen on days where I don’t need an extra compression layer on my bottom half, three layers of shirts on the top half, gloves, and warm headgear, as well as a protective layer of Vaseline smeared on my face. Or recent days where one might collapse into a heap of pulsating humidity.

This freakish competitive thing has me obsessing about running my best half in March, and then failing to come close ever since. I feel this imaginary monkey on my back every time I line up for the next half, only to come up at least 5 minutes short…or worse.

The problem with running multiple races of the same distance is that every one is different, based on logistics, weather and emotions. I had my best time in cool weather in Manhattan which was half hills and half flat. I also had no expectations that day, so setting an all-time PR was nothing short of amazing. I subsequently had my worst time on a coolish, but increasingly warmish, completely hillyish course, along with a few ‘Meh’ efforts where I was happy to finish in an upright position and get free race schwag.

2012 ain’t over ’til it’s over… jones-ing for a new PR keeps me looking forward.


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