Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pints to Pasta 10k - Hallelujah

My finish time of 42:53 in today's Pints to Pasta 10K (official) was spurred on by a handful of things -- fantastic weather (sunny, slight breeze, high 50s), a large and lively turnout of fellow runners, a dramatic-to-me footrace with one of those runners over the last half-mile, and a timely shuffle selection of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

Beginning with the latter, I refer to my favorite version of the song, performed by Rufus Wainwright, which came up on my MP3 player somewhere in the depths of mile two when the course was trending uphill. It took all my thoughts off the difficulties afoot and those to come and replaced them with some of the most enchanting song lyrics in the history of song lyrics.

Along the way, somewhere in the first two miles, I picked out a fellow runner in a bright yellow shirt who was maintaining an excellent pace ahead of me. As the miles poured on, and we ran by the crystal-clear waters of the Willamette, I was able to gain slightly on her only to find her pulling away again; I never lost sight of her, but I could not get any closer than roughly 50 yards. As I sensed us nearing the mile 5 marker, I decided to make my final push and began accelerating as much as I could. I passed others over this stretch, and gained ever so slowly on my yellow-shirted nemesis. I finally caught and passed her somewhere in the last half-mile, and noticed that she saw my pass attempt and increased her own speed to compensate. I accelerated a little more until I felt confident I had her safely behind me, only to find her crawl up to me again in the last 100 yards, whereupon I ran with maximum effort over that last stretch and edged her out by a few seconds.

Motivation comes in such trivial forms. I did not and still do not know the person I engaged in this way, but I know I finished considerably faster for having put us in our own little drama.

After the race -- after verifying that she seemed to be in good spirits -- I congratulated her on a race well-run and thanked her for having paced me, however unwittingly. She probably thinks I'm an asshole despite my best efforts to be a good winner about it all, and of course she's right. I am not just an asshole, but a Category Five Asshole. Hallelujah!

I thank the Run with Paula people, the sponsors, and all the volunteers for assembling all the moving parts to make this such an excellent event.

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