With Yes Louisville 502 Keeps Fit fun runs kicking off and the first leg of the Louisville Triple Crown of Running breaking tape this weekend, it seems appropriate to talk about running.

Many have made a comparison between life and running a race. There are parables and fairy tales and textbooks and self-help guides that include buzzwords and big advice on “staying the course” and “hitting the pavement” and “crossing the finish line.”

So I’ll spare you the pontifications. Instead, I offer real stories from real races I have run and then you can draw the comparisons, lessons and metaphors on your own.

  1. In mile 9 of a 10 mile race last year, I mounted a hill, barely able to breathe and heard a weird rhythm being banged out beside me. I cast my eyes to my right side to see an athlete beginning to barrel past me. And then I looked down. That noise? It was the sound of his “fitness prosthetic” (Yes, I Googled how to refer to this!) bouncing in step on the pavement beside me.
  2. I once ran the hills of Iroquois Park in record time, but forgot something important – I still had four miles to foot before I could call it quits. It’s embarrassing to breakdown miles short of the finish line.
  3. My first half-marathon was the first time I had really seen family members and friends supporting runners from the sidelines. There is something inspiring about cardboard cutouts and Sharpie-smeared poster board with silly puns and movie references even if they aren’t meant specifically for you. Supportive enthusiasm is contagious.
  4. One of the first races I participated in was a Komen Race for the Cure. There was a huge turnout and we elbowed and pushed through the first half mile until we could each find our own footing. In a big road run like that, you learn quickly that there will always be people faster than you and there will always be people moving slower. The only thing you can control is how hard you push. The only person you need to beat is yourself (from the last race).
  5. A gentleman more than twice my age finished just before me in a recent competition. Youth means nothing in the face of determination, wisdom and experience.
  6. The first time I attempted a half marathon, I found myself unable to do much more than trot for the last mile. As I limped toward the end, the first-place finisher flew by me from the opposite direction doing cartwheels. He may have won, but apparently I tried harder.
  7. I love live music all the time- but even a cover band doing a mediocre version of a Killers song sounds like MTV-ready rock royalty when you are desperate for motivation to keep pushing yourself up a hill halfway through Cherokee Park.
  8. I’ve been thirsty enough during a race to contemplate picking up already-used orange peels from the side of the road. I didn’t do it, but I considered it. Make sure you plan the proper places to hydrate.
  9. There is a moment during the Derby Festival Mini Marathon where runners going only the 13-mile route split away from the runners attempting to do the full 26-mile Marathon. No matter how much you hurt in that moment, there is a freedom you feel knowing you have much less left to travel than that other guy you were just running beside.
  10. Pizza tastes great after 10 miles.
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