The guy who passes you in the other direction sprinting towards the finish when you’ve still got like a mile before the turning-around point and later you discover he finished the race in 15 minutes flat? Screw that guy. He probably runs all the time and he’s super annoying about it, like I bet he does those ostentatious look-at-me leg stretches during meetings and when someone finally reluctantly asks him what’s up he’s all, “Duuuude, ran an ultra this weekend. Just trying to limber up before I race a live cheetah this afternoon, brah.”

Don’t get too cocky when you actually feel pretty good at the start of the race, because guess what, bitch? You’ve got THIRTY MINUTES TO GO.

Sure, some people have fancy sports-specific earbuds that are meant for running, but how many people have made ingenious use of a metal binder clip in order to keep the cord from bouncing all over the place? Yeah, that’s right. Can’t touch this.

If, at the 1.5-mile-mark, you are struck breathless with a miserable side cramp, I suggest adopting a sort of Quasimodo-like hunched-over shuffle where you basically look like the victim of a sniper with bad aim. Move along at the fastest pace you are capable of, which will be slightly detectable by the naked eye but is best captured via slow shutter speed. It helps if you peel your lips all the way back while grimacing in pain, because that way any passing insects will get trapped in your teeth and potentially provide you with a quick energy boost.

Never mind the septuagenarians who finished many minutes before you and are lazing around the finish line eating free bananas while you are openly weeping at the sign reading “2 MILES”. Perhaps once you get there you can vomit on their orthopedic shoes.

When the going gets tough, try lowering your gaze to the ground and focus on—oh look! Eighty million billion little splotches of moist phlegmy saliva, spat there by 600 runners in front of you. On second thought, look straight up.

Brrrrrrt! What? Oh, say, you know what was mmmmmaybe not such a great idea? The bran cereal you had at breakfast.

Almost there . . . almost there . . . just a few more yards . . . holy fuck, YOU DID IT. WOOOOOO! ALL RIGHT! So is there a trophy? A ribbon? A cash reward? . . . no? Just . . . your name on a hastily-printed piece of 8.5×11 paper, over there on that board? Hmm, okay, fine, well at least you got this free t-shirt, which you optimistically asked for in a size small, and . . . yeah, wow, that SO doesn’t fit.

Hey, there’s Mr. 15-minute Guy himself, over there by that tree surrounded by a group of fawning admirers. WhatEVER. As you limp by, make sure to inquire rudely as to whether or not he’s known for speedy finishes in all aspects of life, if you know what I mean and I THINK YOU DO. Only say this in your head, of course, because it’s not like you can talk right now, what with all the gasping and wheezing and so on.

When some lady hands you a flyer for an upcoming road race in June, plan to throw the thing away as soon as you find a recycling bin, because yeah RIGHT like you’re ever going to do this crazy shit again. Then, find yourself folding it up and carefully putting it in your backpack. Huh.


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15 years ago

I ran my first ever 5K today…and I have to tell you that I was thinking about what you wrote about your experience….I found myself laughing while I was running! You were dead-on! Thanks for the inspiration and the laughs!

15 years ago

“a sort of Quasimodo-like hunched-over shuffle where you basically look like the victim of a sniper with bad aim” – my husband said that I looked “like a question mark” when he saw me 2 miles into my race. Pretty sure the hunched/slumped position indicates a near-death experience.