This runner didn't stumble, but style tripped her up
By LISA LAVA-KELLAR
NEWS SPECIAL WRITER
Last Sunday’s Briarwood Run made me realize I’m not the racing type.
Take clothes, for example. I wore faded green sweat pants and a T-shirt from Banff. Not a color-coordinated red shirt, shorts and shoe ensemble like the guy to my left. Not purple Spandex tights, yellow mesh, high-tech top and a bandana wrapped Rambo-style around my head like the woman front of me.
Even the less-than-fashionable racers had attire my closet will never see. One fellow wore a non-intimidating T-shirt with “Detroit Marathon 1985" emblazoned across his chest. I consoled myself with the notion he got the thing from a mail-order catalog.
Then there’s the issue of timepieces. My watch has hands. Theirs had buttons, lots of them, for time in milliseconds, speed in miles per hour and a sign to beam them up when the going got tough.
My style was different, too. I warmed up by rubbing my hands together. These people warmed up by jogging around the entire mall. Others twisted their bodies into elaborate shapes, rivaling the animals that magicians make from balloons. Racers call that stretching.
I must say, it surprised me that before a race people could be so active. Whatever happened to energy conservation? There was movement everywhere. The only runners I saw standing around were waiting in line for the Porta-potties.
When the gun sounded, I took off too fast and did my first mile in eight minutes. Call it race excitement - I call it the terror of being trampled. By mile two, I kept glancing at my feet to make sure my car key was still tied to my shoelace. By mile three, I tried imagining the pavement was a conveyor.
I told myself to slow down and appreciate the surroundings. There was no time. Always my gaze returned to the ground or to the view in front of me. There were any number of shapes and sizes in this run, and all were passing me. So much for the psychological advantage of being number 747.
My right knee started aching as we turned onto Ellsworth Rd., and I wished I’d run with someone. Occasionally mumbling a few words to a companion makes you forget you are capable of pain. Even the race becomes secondary. You relax a little.
When you run in a race, the road, contrary to the Irish saying, does not rise up to meet you. You must meet it, over and over and over, as your feet hit the pavement. You also realize that the advice to race only against yourself is a crock.
Of course you’re racing against everyone else. No one wants to be last. If last Sunday was any indication, no one even wants to be close to last.
I think I figured out why.
If you are one of the last to cross the finish line, those who have come before you are lined up on both sides of the route for what seems like miles. They are clapping and cheering. They are not sweating. They are happy.
Forget humility if you finish after the majority. You cannot hide, and the later you finish, the more people who know it.
When I crossed, I was not smiling. I was red-faced, gasping and wet. Thing is, I did OK. I brought up the rear on the 10K and still crossed when the clock said 53 minutes and some seconds. That’s an 8 1/2-minute mile.
I’ll take it. I wish I could be so sure about another race.
Lava-Kellar favors the basic sweatsuit for her runs.
'I warmed up by rubbing my bands together,' says Lava-Kellar. 'These people warmed up by jogging around the entire mall.'