In The Running: My Super Bowl Story

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On Super Bowl Sunday I ran in a 7 mile race, aptly called the Super Bowl Run. It’s a unique and fun race, with staggered start times and individual handicaps. Part of the fun is all the pre-race begging and complaining and bribery that goes on when runners receive their handicaps, which are not revealed until race day. There are great prizes too — the top 25 runners receive a bottle of red wine. Good wine.

Fast forward to the finish line. There I am, running as hard as I can and the race director is yelling “Hazel, you got the last bottle of wine!” I’m happy, I’m proud and I look down at the finishing stick that was handed to me. Even without my glasses the number looks clear: 26. Bummer.

One second I’m in the running and the next I’m out of the running. Originally, I had planned to do the Kaiser San Francisco Half Marathon that day but I changed my mind a few weeks ago since I hadn’t been able to get in enough distance running and opted for the Super Bowl Run instead. Did I say the race was fun? Well, it is if you like running uphill, or walking uphill. It’s that steep in places. Seven miles of hilly fire roads and single track trails that wrap part way around Mt. Tamalpais, which is about 30 minutes north of San Francisco. There’s a phrase that many instructors use when teaching ChiRunning “feel what it feels like”. Of course, we use it in the context of good running form. I was feeling what it feels like to miss the mark by a factor of one.

I was in pain. Not mental pain (it was just a fun race after all), nor running pain. Mostly I was just short of breath and experiencing that feeling after a race when you’ve pushed yourself hard and people around you have already recovered but you’re still in another zone. Finally, I was ready to enjoy the fun. Other racers had already started socializing or diving into the post race potluck brunch. One of the things I love about running is that runners love to eat. That’s my kind of company.

As I start running back to my car to grab a change of clothes I realize that I’m examining the running form of other finishers who were still coming in. Mostly, they were sprinting and power running. I thought back to the last third of the last mile when one of my friends passed me. His running form didn’t look good. (Not you, Kurt). Still, he had the last laugh as he beat me. In contrast, one of the other guys who had passed me towards the end had floated by me with one of the smoothest and efficient running forms I’ve seen. He’s only 24 and runs a 10K in 31 minutes and change. That’s what’s also fun about a handicap race  — you can observe, albeit briefly, runners of different abilities and so many different running styles.


Super Bowl Run Awards … "Hazel is out of the running"

During the potluck brunch and at the informal awards ceremony shown here I received plenty of teasing for the honor of being the one that finished out of the running. On the way home I did think about what I could have done differently and reflected upon my running form that day. I decided that I need to work more on using my obliques when running uphill and relax and let my pelvis rotate on the downhill. I remembered one of my favorite articles that Danny wrote a long time ago but still holds true “Float and Flow: Using the Elements to Run Hills”.

Have you ever missed your mark by a fraction (mine was 6 seconds)? What was your experience? Did you do a post race analysis or just let it go?


Posted in Technique

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