Monday, August 6, 2007
How have you been harrassed when running?
Sunday was the first time I was harassed while I was running, and it was by a member of the United States Army to boot. I was running at my normal spot, a 2.5 mile loop through a park in Knoxville. I run here 4 times a week, and this run was no different on my end. I was running 12 miles, at about 9 am on a Sunday. No big deal, right?
Well, this Sunday was a little different, because the Knoxville Army Reserves were doing their 'PT'-Physical Training-testing at the park as well. The reserves are the guys who are only committed to the Army one weekend a month and 2 weeks during the summer. When they get together, it's very basic training and conditioning type things (From what I know through people in the reserves).
So anyways, the reserves were all gathered together at one end of a straightaway in the park I run at. They were at the far end of the straightaway, so I was running towards them. They were getting ready to start running towards me for their out-and-back mile run. Luckily for me, they didn't start running while I was 'In their way'. I was able to run through the straightaway, and the group with no issues, not even any dirty looks. I respected them, they respected me.
At the part of the park with the reserves, is also the part of the park where I turn around. So, I ran through the group, turned around and ended up running back through the group going the same way that they were. Right before they started their timed mile. So, long story short, with a choppy explanation, I ended up in front a bunch of Army reserves on a timed mile. When they sounded their gun, I was about 75 feet in front of them, running the same direction on the same course. And that was when the harassment started. From the Drill Sergeants:
"ARE YOU GONNA LET SKINNY LITTLE RUNNER BOY BEAT YOU?!?!?"
"ARE YOU A MAN?!?" "GO GET THAT CIVILIAN!!!" "ARE YOU TIRED ALREADY??!?"
"SKINNY LITTLE RUNNER BOY ISN'T EVEN BREATHING HARD!!! AND HE'S NOT IN THE ARMY!!!!"
These Drill Sergeants were going nuts on these guys. I totally felt like a rabbit pace setter for these guys, and I sped up just to make sure that none of them would catch me. Like I said before, I was about 75 feet ahead of these guys when they started, and they were running 1/2 mile out and then turning back and going to where they started. For that 1/2 mile, I was cruising pretty good, it was nice to have a little unexpected competition to make my run a little more interesting. One guy almost did catch me, but it was right at his turnaround point, so as soon as we were basically shoulder-to-shoulder, he had to turn around. I just kept going and proceeded on with my 12 mile run.
The run itself was good. I paused briefly at mile 5 for a quick drink and half an energy bar, and kept a 9:22 pace throughout. My breathing never got heavy, but my legs felt tired through miles 9-12. All in all I was happy about the run, and this is for a couple of reasons. First, I have never run 12 miles at once before, so to be able to survive that is an accomplishment by itself. Second, I was able to run at a slower, more deliberate pace. I've said before that I tend to push myself to my limits when running, and run as fast as my body allows rather than run at a pace that I want to. When I felt myself creeping into my usual 8:30/mile pace, I consciously pulled back and got back to 9:15 pace. This is a big step for me.