HIGH COUNTRY RUNNING: Don’t be slow

JULIE HAMMONDS Special for the Daily Sun

I was in good shape for this year’s Whiskey Basin Half Marathon, and my goal was to push myself the full distance. I came out hard, determined to finish the same.

Aravaipa Running had diverted many of the day’s events due to a fire in the nearby Prescott National Forest. As a result, there were hordes of racers sharing a single track. I spent the first 3 miles passing 10k walkers and mild marathoners.

It can be a tricky negotiation. Sometimes I have to force myself to pass, knowing that the other runners are doing their best, just like me. What if I hurt someone’s morale? My goal is to politely pass by shouting “to your left” long before. I try to speak loudly without sounding rude. It can be difficult.

The day was hot and I was pushing myself. The passage has aged. I stopped worrying so much about how other people felt. Sometimes when I said “to your left”, someone didn’t take a step to the right. These people, I didn’t mind passing by.

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Through the rocky and beautiful middle third of the course, I played hopscotch with two women whose ages added together could barely match mine. I passed them; they passed me. It was good.

We were miraculously standing through a landscape seemingly designed as a tripping hazard. More power for the woman who was able to maintain a good pace in the Granite Dells.

In the last third of the course, the sun was scorching and my legs had lost their juice. I caught up with a group of other runners. I was tired of passing. Their rhythm was gentle. I could make fluffy.

Then I heard a voice in my head. My inner coach told me, “Don’t be slow.

What did that mean? I decided that meant I wouldn’t subconsciously pick up their pace as my own. I came here to push hard. What was I waiting for? That pushing hard would be easy?

Jazzed up by my new mantra, I shouted, “On your left.” Once again, I had my own rhythm and my own race.

“Don’t be slow” took me up a long hill in the last two miles. And with the finish line in sight, when another runner came up behind me, the pace I had was a sprint.

My next half marathon was intentionally quiet. I proudly owned slow that day. Whichever mindset you choose is fine. Just own yours, not someone else’s. If you can, if possible, don’t let another person’s energy mindlessly dictate yours.

My friend George Breed captured this idea with his signature touch of levity: “I don’t let upset in others produce upset in me.”

What state of mind will you possess today?

Julie Hammonds is the editor of this column. Send your running stories to [email protected]

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