Saturday, April 4, 2009

On (Not) Running the Bridge

Today is the Cooper River Bridge Run. At 50,000+ participants, it is one of the top ten 10k road races in the USA. Literally thousands of people who do not consider themselves runners will "run" the race, and tomorrow morning they will all be talking about it. And many of them will innocently ask, "so, did you run the bridge?" Even more will ask me, assuming that since I have a drawer full of running clothes and spend two-thirds of the year coaching runners, surely I must have participated in this local event.

But I didn't. (I did jog two easy miles in my neighborhood, but the fact that it was on race day was coincidental). I used to run the Bridge Run pretty regularly. And I raced it. When I was decent, I used to find my name in the next day's newspaper supplement on the first page, in the first column--always in the first thousand finishers, once or twice around the first 500. (Editorial note--even then, I wasn't numbered amond the serious racers... I was a full 2 miles behind the Kenyans, and well out of age-group awards. Of those 50,000 runners, less than 200 are objectively any good.)

I suppose I could run the race like everybody else. Even if I didn't train a lick, I could do the weekend-warrior thing and gut out 6.2 miles on adrenaline and muscle memory. If I went slow enough, I might even be able to walk the next day (which is more than some can say). If I got in minimal shape, I could probably still break 50 minutes, which is about where the local non-runners start to act impressed. (The days of flirting with 40 are gone!) However, I just can't seem to muster up the desire to get up early, drive downtown, park, hang out in that huge crowd, and then fight the crowds home for a t-shirt.

I am not entirely sure when I lost the drive to race. I'm pretty sure it corresponded to me getting slower and being unwilling to pay the price in training that would have been necessary to forestall decline. I keep thinking that someday it would be nice to run occasional "fun runs" again, just for the atmosphere and the experience. Maybe next year!


bekster said...

Of all my years in Charleston, I have never done the bridge run. I have considered it, but then the thought of the crowds and the parking (and the driving even to get to where you park) and all of that have scared me away every time. It seems much more fun just to go walk on the bridge on a regular day when there is nothing special going on. Of course, I'm not real big on local events anyway if it involves downtown and crowds.

Pete said...

but even in your undiscipline, you're more disciplined than 95% of americans.

MichaelPolutta said...

Dude, I understand. The races I have enjoyed the most - and I'm NOT a racer - were the smaller ones. I've run the Cooper River Bridge run. I've run the US 10K (Labor Day) here in Atlanta with 12,000 of my closest friends. But I've run the Silver Comet half-marathon and 10K, and the 300 or so folks made for a much more enjoyable experience. The huge-crowd races are just not that much fun for me either.

I will say, though, that I think you have to find another reason to run/race. Whatcha think?

super Hubby said...

There is always the 50K in January. That would be slow enough for you.

Pete said...


coke + nose = not fun.

Coach Sal said...

50k? Lately, 50k would be a good MONTH, not a good day. I just would like to get back in good enough shape to run about 7 miles in less than an hour without hurting. Summer is coming, so chances are I'll be revving back up again soon.