I did a swim/run brick from the gym today- a massive (for me) 2500 yard session in the pool followed by an easy- er, moderate- run for an hour.
The run took me up into Orange, eventually past the High Plains Community Center.
Although I've been running road races long enough now (this is the tenth year, which is scary) and have forgotten more races than I remember, there's something familiar about the location. Any doubts I had there used to be a race held there was put to rest when I ran past a line with 3M on it- the three mile mark of a 5K that ends in the parking lot. I ran a little farther- I was near my halfway turnaround, and there was Pine Tree Drive. I headed down it until I hit thirty minutes and then headed back.
It reminded me of the last time I ever judged another athlete based on looks, which was also the first time I remember racing Chris Dickerson.
I think it was 1998, although I can't find the race result, and I'm pretty sure it was this race. I was running sub-seventeen minute 5Ks back then, which of course made me eligible to overestimate my own modest ability. Not to mention under-appreciate it. Anyway, Chris Dickerson was there. Not being from CT, and being generally ignorant about the athletes in the sport I was participating in, I had no idea who Chris was. Which is too bad. Chris is just a great guy, a really awesome runner and stellar competitor.
However, to me, he was just this really big guy with wireframe glasses and white tube socks. Chris kind of runs big, because well, he's big- compared to yours truly, a guy so small that the phrase 'I'm OK with midget' has come out of my mouth a few times. But seriously, I took one look at Chris and thought 'Not a problem' or something like that. Something stupid.
So the race starts and we head down Pine Tree Road. If you know Pine Tree Road (and why would you), it's downhill, a fast but hard mile when you're on Chris's heels. I thought as we hit the mile mark in 5:20 or so, that Chris would start to go off the back. Well, there was plenty of going off the back, only I was doing it. By the time the race was over, Chris had, as he has done a hundred times, crushed me like a grape, then shook my hand and very earnestly told me how well I ran.
Although I was a dumbass that day, I learned a valuable lesson about not judging other athletes before a race, especially based on looks.
But I was thinking about it today and I have a feeling that there is still a little of that which goes on in my head the other way. Transition in triathlon before a race. Let's face it, other people have killer kit, sweeter looking bikes, ironman tattoos, an appropriate number of body piercings (one just isn't enough), cut muscles. And let's face it, most of them are better looking too. The word schlump comes to mind when I compare myself to that.
But you can't tell anything at all about a triathlete by looking at them. Thank goodness. I'm not a great triathlete, but I certain beat plenty of better looking ones every time I race, because of course, I'm not racing them. I'm racing me, and I'm racing the clock. Except when a guy with a 40,41,42,43, or 44 is right in front of me...