"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Saturday, April 2, 2011


I'm supposed to be running right now, but I have to hold off my long run with 6 fast miles because - get this - there's a 10K race being held where I want to run. So why didn't I just sign up for the race? Here's why:

It's $32, which is about a dollar per minute, making a $10 movie (or even a $1000 hooker) sound cheap. There's 600 runners between the 5K and 10K races and that means the competition is spotty; last year, the winner took 36 minutes and the first my age took 40. The year before, the wiiner took 33 and the first master (Arley Anderson, who's pretty good) 38. [The weather was worse last year.] I'm currently in shape to finish second master, just out of the trophies, not that I need to add to the two boxes full of trophies I have already from races no one cares about.

But even if I won, who would give a crap? Can you name who won it last year? Have you ever even heard of the Running Opener 10K (which used to be 8 miles and held in Minneapolis)? And even if I ran some unbelievably spectacular time, say 31 minutes [as if!], it wouldn't matter, because the race isn't certified for records.

A friend of mine set a state age-class record last year, but it wasn't ratified because it wasn't at "a sanctioned meet." He broke the current record again, at a sanctioned race, but it wasn't ratified because there was no paperwork showing the wind conditions.

Minnesota keeps age-class records (most states don't), because there is a long-standing tradition of top performances here. Unfortunately, the record keeping is suspect. The over-50 record is listed as 2:50 something, though Alex Ratelle ran a 2:30 (!) twenty-five years ago, before those recording the records started recording. The record for the 5K for over-50's, the last I checked, was 16:17. Or 15:51, depending upon whether one's looking at roads or tracks. I'm sure, though, that if one thoroughly researched it, there were faster times that've been overlooked.

Added: the records depend upon where you look. I just found a pretty good list.

Again, who would care? And chasing records means running the flattest, most boring courses imaginable. It means driving five hours to run a 5K in 16 minutes. It means running races that draw competition, which means huge races, which means races where you never see your competition before or after the race and everyone who wins an award skips the awards ceremony to beat the traffic caused by the crowds. It means running the same few races in the spring and fall, when the weather's good, whether that's when you're ready or not. It means paying a fortune to race every weekend, waiting for that one day when the weather co-operates and Dan Carlson doesn't show up (we're the same age and he'll rewrite the record books from 10k-1/2 marathon when he turns 50), or Pat Billig, for that matter. Or Doug Keller...

It's enough to make you want to run 100 miles on a trail.

Looking for footage of Mike Slack, I found this. Guys my age from around these parts will LOVE this!


mike_hinterberg said...

Yeah, kinda ranty! =)

If I hadn't lived in Mpls, I'd have the impression that the ~3M loop around Lake Phalen btwn 9 and 11am today was the only place to run! (Hypocritically: I've often trashed and complained about some of the multi-user paths that I love to hate to run). I do get how it can be an inconvenience if you haven't planned for a closure, but improvisation is often the beauty of ultra training: I've had to re-route planned runs due to snow, lightning, moose on the trail, etc.

But to keep in perspective, and as shown by the results you've pointed out, over 90% (let's say 550 out of 600) aren't running FTW or for records...and also aren't paying a $1/minute. I know you know that, though!

Good points on the arbitrariness of record-keeping. And, yes, MN does seem to have a uniquely cool sense of keeping track of such things.

Anyway, back to ultra training...Have fun and slow down! =) Cheers!

Brian said...

I've paid up to $9.54 per mile before in a 10k...got a really nice sweatshirt, but that's pretty ridiculous. Best deal every year seems to be Voyageur...how can anyone say no to just $0.80 per mile!

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Condensed version of this post:

I can run a 16-minute 5k; also, a 32-minute 10k. WAHHHHHH!

Sometimes ya gotta rant - i get that - but Sweet Baby Jebus, SteveQ, you could be more selective about what you rant about because one solution to your "problem" is to be more economical, like me: I just ran a 5k and it took me nearly 25 minutes. Boy, did I ever get MY money's worth! I bet you must envy ME!

I'm a sucky runner and I know it but I don't particularly care. I suppose if I cared I could do "speed work" and "800s" (whatever they are) or some of that other stuff you "serious runners" are always going on about, but let's say I did. BEST case scenario, I get my 5k time down to 21 minutes maybe? ... or ... still 5 FULL MINUTES slower than you.

I'll live with my slowness, thanks.

I'd like to say I feel your poor-me-I'm-so-fast pain ...

But I don't.

SteveQ said...

In typical rant fashion, I completely missed making my point. I've been running in the same place for 35 years, but now there's a race, a walkathon, or some other event every single weekend from April to October. The public address systems awake me and often the roads are closed or parking blocks my car in my yard.