The Return of the Reluctant Runner

Bay to Breakers is almost here again, and I have discovered that – for the second year in a row – I am alarmingly unprepared for this event. Frustrating? Yes. Surprising? Not really. Not to anyone who really knows me, that is. I am a unique combination of major anticipator and classic procrastinator, which causes me to build my expectations about almost everything in my life to an almost-unbearable level of jittery excitement and then sink into overwhelming despair when I realize that I have yet again failed to completely prepare for the thing I was so eagerly anticipating. It’s a truly exhausting process, and I can feel it coming on as Bay to Breakers approaches in just 6 weeks.

But let me back up and explain: Bay to Breakers is a 12K run/walk (7.5 miles) in San Francisco that begins at the Embarcadero with the long and mysterious tradition of throwing corn tortillas out of the starting gates and ends in Golden Gate Park with the long and much-celebrated tradition of a beer garden. Everyone dresses in costume (or dresses not at all – nudity is also a less-celebrated but equally entertaining tradition of B2B) and except for a die-hard few (read: obsessed) no one takes it seriously. Which means I shouldn’t be stressed, because this is a run in which local residents sell Jell-O shots for $1 along the race lines and a vast majority of participants come to the race with floats containing various quantities and varieties of alcohol. But I’m flying down to San Francisco to run the thing (with my brother, who beat me last year by a good 10 minutes despite the fact that I passed him as he waited in line for the Port-a-Potty about halfway through – dammit) so I feel like I can’t go all that way and spend all that money just to walk it. And since I haven’t been running consistently (again, not surprising) I feel like I have a long way to go. As a self-proclaimed “reluctant runner” I’ve found that it’s tough to get back in the running game after a long hiatus, but also that once I’m back, running comes so naturally to me…causing me to wonder why I haven’t been keeping up the pace all along.

The race begins!

Off to a slow start…I think it was Will’s (right) master plan to lull me into a false sense of security as my running buddy and then leave me in the dust and beat me in the end. It worked.

So, as with last year, I am preparing for B2B with just weeks to go until the race – but this year, with several advantages:

a) knowledge of the course (to my nemesis Hayes St. hill: I will destroy you),
b) desire to kick my brother’s ass,
c) desire to kick my own ass, and
d) the big picture of the end goal: to enjoy the hell out of the thing, because it’s going to be a great day – time with my bro, a crazy/memorable run, a refreshing cold one at the end and lots of much-needed family time over the course of the weekend.

The end – and the beer! – are in sight upon entering Golden Gate Park.

I’m putting this out there, because as an anticipator I need to actually do the work to prepare and not just build it up in my mind. As my friend Rachel says, goals should be APV Active, Public and Voluntary – which help the goal-setter achieve them. And with a little advance preparation, perhaps this year I can avoid the last-minute stress before my trip and simply enjoy the ride (or run, in this case). So, armed with sage advice (and perhaps a little of that productivity-inducing panic so innate in my personality) the reluctant runner returns to the road…and hopefully, this year, I’ll stay there.

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