Friday, November 4, 2011

I Am A Road Runner

I am what I am, and that’s a roadrunner!

Not the cartoon birds that goes ‘beep beep’ and then vroom off into the highway, evading the vile and wily tactics of Wile E. Coyote. I am a runner who seeks the road well travelled. I will find my way, and I have GPS to guide me.
I rarely run trails, off-road, or cross-country. Well, the closest I have is a bi-monthly time trial for the MR25 club I belong to. That’s because I want to enhance my animal ranking. Every minute less than 25 minutes designates an animal of running prowess. I think that there’s a beast (or varying hirsuteness) that lurks within the hairy-legged me, and I think the roads contain its enthusiasm – occasionally, it rears its ugly head when runners deliberately hog the road during a race, and I cannot overtake. Other than this personal peeve, I am happy as a clean tuxedo on prom-night, to immerse myself with the ever-growing running populace with branded team-names such as F1 Runners and Team Fatbird.

Some may think I am a coward, for avoiding the nastier and nascent trails filled with unruly undulations (of rollercoaster standards), offensive mud baths, wantonly loose gravel, and orphaned twigs. You also play Russian Roulette with the inherent risk of deadfall (crashing dead trees). Others may consider me a hypochondriac, shielding myself from the abundance of dirt. I opt for the road as it is just outside my door. In marsupial style, I hop on a tar road, activate my Garmin 310XT, and start jogging. There is no fuss as to which shoes I need, as I can also run barefoot.

There is a plethora of road races – almost every weekend, for commercial or charitable purposes. Roads, park connectors, pavements and pedestrian walkways mark the designated routes. Follow the yellow brick road…for it leads to the finishing point. We rarely get lost for the visibility is often good, the direction etched by the person in front, or a direction sign with the largest font-size a paintbrush can express. The aid-stations are stacked with a smorgasbord of nutrition, fetched by an efficient courier service on a main vein of a city’s circulation.
We are not alone. We are a global tribe who seek local routes. The Road Runners Club of America is one of the largest running clubs in the USA, with more 1000 running clubs and events nation-wide. The Singapore Marathon expects to lure up to 70,000 runners in all denominations: 10K, 21K and 42.195K.

We may resort to the gym, Pilates and core-stability work to build our leg strength and joint stability. However, we still get the job done. We may look over-dressed at times, and debate the ubiquitous shoe models that mushroom monthly, and argue the case for barefoot or minimalist, forefoot landing or midsole strike. Sure, there are a few faux superheroes bedecked in clinical-quality, compression-wear that may give us pause – to sleep, perchance to dream…but I digress.

Spectators prefer to throng the roadside to encourage us on; as long as there is a Starbucks retail outlet, there will be people eager to watch or satisfy their visual curiosity as they sip on their lukewarm brew. It is this crowd of onlookers and fans that make the run (3-7 hours) and the finish most enticing and enriching.

I may prefer it flat and hard, yet it is the concrete jungle that I hold my place. I am a roadrunner, and I’m sticking to my story, the plotline, and the happy ending.

While you are here, read Amit’s piece on inspiration. If you are inclined up-size everything including your challenge distance, then head to ultra-marathoner Heather Howell’s blog.

Photo-credit: Chiang Mun Wai

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