As I was reading about all of my friends' races this weekend on http://www.dailymile.com, I started thinking about how I race and what it means. I've really only been in a handful of races, but I've been in enough to know what I am looking for in a race experience.
Racing for me I very personal. It is a solo activity. That doesn't mean it isn't somewhat social. I will talk to people during long races. I will find "pace partners" to run with. But the experience is ultimately all about me.
I don't race with headphones. At first I did it because I heard some races don't allow them and didn't want to be thrown off if I planned on having them and couldn't. Now, however, it is part of the experience. I want to hear my breathing and compare it to the people around me. I want to hear the entertainment at big races. I definitely don't want to be distracted from the experience.
Except for about 1.5 races, I race alone. My first 5k, I ran the first half with my wife. A recent one, I ran with her the whole way (which was awesome!). Racing is definitely about doing the best I can on that day, but don't be fooled - I'm racing against other people too. At multiple times during the race, I will say to myself, "I am NOT letting that person beat me!". Reeling people in at the end of the race always gives me great pleasure.
All that being said, I think I'm ready to race with other people. I loved pacing my wife and can only imagine how much it would help to have someone pace me and how much more fun it would be to run with someone.
That will have to wait though, because I have a 5k in a month and, even though I am out of shape, I'm looking for a PR. So watch out! I'm going to be reeling you in!