Beat The Bridge Results Are In

Frank and I ran the annual Beat the Bridge race a few weeks ago – and together for the first time since the mid-1990’s or so.

I’m a record keeper – so I have all of the race tags from those days forward – and I spent a minute today looking at our statistics. You might think that the obvious question is "how much slower are you than back in the day" and while that is interesting (keep reading for the answer!) the better question is "how much slower are runners in general?"

And the answer to THAT is surprising – they are a LOT slower! At our very speediest (a 6.13 per mile pace back in 1994) we were in the top .04 percent overall, top .05 percent in our gender, and top .05 in our division.

Skip to this year, where we averaged a 7.05 pace (don’t worry – we’re faster than that -but a cold apiece took their cumulative toll on us both). Anyway – running 52 seconds more slowly per mile, here’s how we fared: top .06 overall, top .10 in our gender, and top .11 in our division.

Obviously – the tough SOB’s in our age group aren’t slowing down much. But everyone else is – it’s hard to imagine that we can run almost a minute more slowly – and still be amongst the fastest of the overall finishers.

Maybe it’s because of the walkers – except they have their own race that happens at the same time.  Maybe it’s because more women are running, and although they are catching the men bit by bit, they aren’t there yet. But I think that it’s really because as a community, we’re heavier than we once were, and as individuals, we don’t prize this kind of effort. I don’t mean prize in the sense of cash, but in the sense of hard work, of commitment to an endeavor – and that hard work and commitment (at least when talking about running) often hurts. It means being out of breath, having sore muscles, running in inclement weather, turning down that extra beer, going to bed before the late night show. It means practice. It means running at lunchtime, and weights after work.

And on race day, it means your very best effort. Not the effort you feel like making that morning, but your very best effort. It means when you hit that little hill in the middle, that you suck it up, you shorten your stride a bit, you try to imagine that you are running down hill and you run harder.

It also means arriving at the finish line winded, blistered, with tight muscles, salt on your face and maybe a limp. But also a smile, a sense of wonder and having tried (and done) so well.

I think – that’s why Frank and I keep running – and keep trying.

So – are we slowing down? Yep, no doubt about it. Are we slowing down very much? No, not so much. next year, bar illness or injury, we’ll cross that line a minute faster than this year.

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