I get to registration and sign up for the race. The lady at the table asks, "Are you doing the run or walk?" I'm thinking to myself, "Really?" Nothing against walking or walkers, but if I wanted to walk, I would've done that at home. Granted, the race/walk was for a good cause, but you know what I mean. I wanted a good workout, and running with other competitors was the best way to do it.
I do a mile warm-up then head over to the start line. Some guy that I've run into before, came over to me at the start and said hi. He knows me, my name, but I know nothing about this guy except that I've seen him before and that he works for UPS. I didn't want to ask what his name was because I didn't want to offend him (maybe he'll read this and forgive me). Don't tell me that you've never done that before.
The "gun" goes off and we're off. For some reason I had the urge to stay with the top few guys that had a fast pace going. It had been a while since I've done a 5k race, so pacing was out the window. I just said to hell with it because it's just a running race. We get to the 1-mile mark and my watch reads 5:18. Holy crap, what am I doing. After that, I got a massive side sticker on the right hand side of my abdomen. I paid the price for going out super fast, but it was actually…fun.
I clutch my stomach, I try some rhythmic breathing, I try to inhale and exhale real hard,…nothing worked. The pace was too fast and I couldn't get myself to recover. I meandered through the neighborhood, the roads never seemed to flatten out, and I suffered through until I got to the finish line, and then I gasped for air and kept walking while clutching my side. Some guys that finished ahead of me were trying to talk to me, asking if I won, etc. "I guess," I said…that didn't matter to me, I just wanted to recover and feel normal again. The last thing I want to do right after I cross the line of any race, is talk to someone.
I went to my car, changed into warm clothes, and went for a much needed cool down jog. During my cool down, I pass the UPS guy. He says, "Hey Jess, good job." I might have given him a nod that acknowledged his kind words.
I head home after my cool down, and get ready for a ride. The sun was still out and I had enough daylight to get in a good solid 3 hrs. My intention was not to go hard (but no one else knows that when you're out there on the road by yourself), just flush out my legs after the hard effort. But you know when another rider passes you and you know they're trying so hard to stay ahead of you? You can't help but to play with their heads a little bit. I pass some guy on a bike, coming from the other direction. He turns around, chases me down, sneaks up behind me, scaring the daylight out of me. I had a lot on my mind so I was kinda zoned out. After he asks me a couple questions that I had no answers to, he tells me to have a good day and picks up the pace a little bit. He's only riding about 3 bike lengths ahead of me at this point. I hate that.
I just rode behind him for about a mile. He's tapping his ass (to signal something or someone on the road), so you know he knows that I'm still close. We get to an intersection with a car and slowly roll through because they're letting us go. It was on a slight incline, so I just "picked up the pace." I never saw him again. If you're going to pass another rider or ride ahead of one, do it with authority.
On my way back home, I spot Panera Bread. Amazing place for a pick-me-up. It was a little before 5pm, so it was going to get dark soon. I go inside and put in my order to go. I was "starving" at that point so I needed something to continue on with my ride. Walking in all souped up in cycling gear, at dusk, I'm sure the employee working the cashier thought I was crazy. I eat half of the panini sandwich I ordered, and stuffed the other half under my jersey. My stomach was somewhat satiated, and my back was warm for the ride back home. I got some looks as I was leaving Panera, but they don't know half the story. They don't know who I am or what I do.
As I was riding back home, I realized how much unfamiliarity goes on during any given day. The lady at the registration table, the UPS guy, the guys near the finish line, the "annoying" cyclist; the employee and people at Panera. We interact with people every day, whether in person or in passing, whether we know them or not. We are often so "worried" about ourselves, so focused on one thing or destination, that we don't acknowledge what's really going on around us. Maybe a loved one of the lady at the registration table is suffering from stage IV arthritis, maybe I should've politely asked the UPS guy what his name was (I had two opportunities) because he admires my racing endeavors, maybe I should've taken a moment to talk with the guys that asked me a complimentary question; maybe I should've introduced myself to the other cyclist and make him feel welcomed.
We all have busy lives and often forget that it's not all about you. Let's "stop and smell the roses!"
P.S. Someone has to know the UPS guy's name.