Last year I volunteered at the Mt. Tabor Doggie Dash, and in return I got a free race entry. It was a pretty great deal – just hanging out and pouring beer for people for a couple of hours, and then if you use the race entry for a half marathon and wait until the last day to register, it’s almost a $100 value! I think they’ve wised up to this, because I’ve seen some since that have a $45 limit, but mine did not. It did have to be used by the end of 2013 however, so Run Like Hell was the last event I could use it for.
I’m still not running (the previous entries are misleading – my running success was short-lived, and I got upset and stopped blogging for a while), and so I had two options: give it away on my blog like I did last year, or give it to someone I know doing the race. Okay, sell it to someone I know doing the race, but for way cheaper. It turned out that my friend Quinn, who had just come back to town after a couple years in Thailand, was training to do the half marathon with some friends from crew, and was happy to buy the entry from me. I wish that this was the scenario that had played out, but instead Quinn died in a car accident early Tuesday morning.
All of a sudden I found myself down one Quinn and up one race entry for a race I couldn’t run. If you knew Quinn, you can confirm that this is the worst possible place to be in. I can’t decide if I should try to explain why he was so amazing to those of you who didn’t know him, or if I should just let it slide for now, because I don’t think I can do him justice with a few sentences in my blog. I’ll just say that this week the phrase “one of a kind” has been coming up non-stop, and it’s completely accurate.
The race entry on hand was far less troublesome, but still needed to be addressed. I dealt with this issue like I’ve been dealing with everything this week. I asked myself, “what would Quinn do?” I imagined that if he were in my place, Quinn would register for the half-marathon, but pay extra to get the VIP package, and power through the 13.1 miles as a tribute run, injuries and lack of training be damned. I would show up to the race start, repeat “I’ve made a huge mistake” several times, and then do the race anyway.
Even though I’m trying to think like Quinn this week, the fact is that I’m not actually Quinn, so I decided to meet him in the middle. I signed up for the 5k, and told myself that I would walk it, even though I’ve had little success walking in races when I was injured. Typically I just run no matter what, because walking is terrible. I’m happy to report that today was different.
I think my normal issue is that I get too competitive and can’t stand to walk because then I’m surrounded with people way slower than I am, and I get too discouraged. Today I shifted my mindset, and decided to try to beat all of the slow joggers in my own personal speed-walking competition. Walking normal with the slow joggers is upsetting. Trying to pass them in a ridiculous all-out, arms-pumping, speed-walk, is exciting. And I like to think that Quinn would have appreciated it.
It turns out that it’s hard to walk faster than any jogger, even when you’re speed-walking. Usually I looked for the people who were taking walking breaks up ahead, and tried to catch up with them until they started jogging again, and then I would find a new target. This was exciting and frustrating at the same time. Some people would take a walk break when they weren’t even sweating or breathing hard. I wanted to yell/cheer at them to not give up, and challenge them to at least walk at my pace if they were going to take a break. I decided that nobody likes when a walker is going faster than their run and starts yelling at them to go faster, so I restrained myself.
About halfway through the race, as I speed-walked down Naito, I started thinking about the Starlight Run that I did with Quinn my senior year of high school. A lot of our friends were talking about doing it, and I got Quinn on board. By the time the run rolled around, everyone else had dropped out, so it was just me and Quinn. After a mile or so, the hip pain that plagued me for all of senior year kicked in, and I told Quinn to go on without me, as I slowed to an embarrassing slow-jogger pace. At the end of the race we met up again, and Quinn started laughing about the fact that I had promised him an awesome fun run with at least ten of our friends, and somehow that turned in to him doing the Starlight Run all by himself. I apologized but he didn’t care, he just thought it was funny. Today I couldn’t help but thinking that this was karma – Quinn thought he was going to run with a big group of friends, and found himself doing a 5k alone. I thought I was going to be sleeping in bed while Quinn did the half marathon, but instead found myself doing a 5k alone. Obviously these situations aren’t really very comparable at all, but it made me feel a little like things with Quinn had come full circle. Or maybe my mind is just searching for small comforting thoughts to help me start processing everything that has happened.
Either way, I tried again to take the Quinn approach, and enjoy my time out there, with or without a pack of friends around me. It turns out that I am an awesome speed-walker, and finished with a time of 36:38, which is 11:47 minutes per mile. I can say that this equates to an awesome time because I have no idea how fast decent speed-walkers go, so I only have myself to compare myself with. See what I did there? Here’s a picture of me coming into the finishing chute. I blacked out the lady behind me so she wouldn’t be embarrassed of being beaten by a walker during a run, and also because her face and shirt matched my own face and shirt too closely, and she was blending in to me.
I am semi-tempted to become a hardcore speed-walker right now, but I will probably get back into running as soon as my leg allows it. It’s been a few years since I went on a run with Quinn, but this week I’ve been having vivid memories of my runs with him as I drive around Portland, past our old running routes. Like everyone that met him, I’m so grateful for the time we had together, but having a hard time keeping it together when I remember that I won’t get to go on any more runs with him, or make any new Quinn memories at all.
I don’t want to leave things on too sad a note, because there’s been a lot of sadness lately, so instead I’ll share the video that Quinn sent me last week. He said he knew I would think it was hilarious, which I did – Quinn get me.