I ran in a 10K this past weekend. It is really my favorite distance. 5Ks are too fast and marathons are too long. A 10K is just right. It is a nice route, different than the majority of races that take place in Honolulu. Generally they start at Kapiolani Park and head up Diamondhead and sometimes, out towards Kahala and Hawaii Kai. This race, starts a Kapiolani Community College on the other side of the park and the route goes up into the crater itself and then out towards Kahala. It is unique and backwards and I like it.
After my friend and I picked up our numbers and were milling about at the race that morning, I noticed that my arch nemesis was there. I have written about her before. About how she is in my age group and always beats me. Like she will come in right before me. If it is a large race, I might come in 34th and you can bet she’s come in 33rd. I tried really hard and beat her once last year. So, I see her at this race and I’d really like to beat her. I have not been doing any intervals and have no business beating her but it is what I want to do.
Out on the course, I never see her. I look for her at the turnaround. I obsess that the woman running in front of me is her even though her hair is short and straight and arch nemesis’ hair is long and wavy. I finally pass this woman in the last half mile and it is not my arch nemesis. I am puzzled. While I wait for my friend to finish (she ends up texting me while on the course about the awfulness of the sun), my arch nemesis comes over to chat. We were both volunteers at one time. We know each other. She does not know she is my arch nemesis. I realize that she had done the 5K instead of the 10K. She tells me that she pulled her hamstring. So it turns out I was only racing against her in my mind.
My friend and I are not going to stick around for medals but it turns out that absent arch nemesis, I have managed to win my age group. As a bit of level setting here, this is a particularly small race. My semi-walking friend and another mostly walking friend both placed third in their age groups. I’m not saying that it is easy to win a medal but I am going to say that it is easier than in other more robustly attended races.
We decide that we will not stay for medals. Who needs a medal? But as we are walking to my car, we run into arch nemesis and she insists that we stay. She thought that there was some free Jamba cards to be had along with medals for age group winners so we actually went back to the calling out of the winners.
My friend took third and we were so surprised, first by the fact that it happened and then by the complete and utter mangling of her last name, that I did not even take a picture of her receiving her medal. I am officially a bad friend. But then I won my age group and I got to stand on the highest plastic step stool labelled first place. I think it may have been my first ever age group win. I should have been happier or prouder but I know that I didn’t really deserve to win. I know that if arch nemesis had been doing the 10K, that she would have beaten me. And I confirmed that by comparing my finish time to her time last year. It was almost two minutes faster. I would not have beaten her. So, really, it was a hollow victory for me. I felt like I couldn’t savor it as much as I would have liked. My friend said that I should just embrace the win. But I just couldn’t. I am hoping that she heals up for the HPH 10K in March. Maybe I will start doing intervals again to give myself a fighting chance. To win for real.