I couldn’t nail down the perfect distance, so that at least could be a relatively easy part of this wish. After experiencing success to some degree at distances from the 5K clear up to the half, I honestly don’t have a preference. Each has their upsides and downsides, but ‘fast’ can be applied in regards to distance and the effort is going to be relatively similar at the finish line. From the zoned out long strides of the 5K, trying to run as fast as my lungs can let me, to the almost casual overdrive mode of the half, not letting my mind think about what my body is doing for 13.1 miles, the opportunity for something incredible to happen is an open window.
In regards to the course itself, I believe there would be a couple of hills in the perfect race. Not mean enough to totally throw off the pace, but with enough difficulty to allow the flat-out speedsters to be humbled. It takes a lot of strength, at any pace, to master hills. It could be street or paved trail, as long as the surface was not littered with potholes and bumps, but even the soft, ethereal qualities of a solid trail could have their place. Some things that would not be present are turnarounds ( I don’t care if we have the whole road to use, pulling a 180 while racing is not pleasurable), clay (slogging is not fun), or ice (no explanation necessary).
This may be surprising, but I don’t envision myself winning the perfect race. In all fairness, I try to visualize winning almost every race I toe the line for, but the truly meaningful ones can even be the events where I must pull out all the stops to break the top 10. The defining concept is not necessarily the podium finish, but the competition. The trick is finding the event where there are others running the same pace, or even slightly faster, where it is necessary to find the next gear and disregarding the ‘can’t’. Working with the very people you want to defeat, a strange concept found in very few sports, is a great part of running. Even the duel, a one on one battle with someone so close, that leads to running abreast or alternating the lead, is an incredible learning experience.
A capable runner must find oneself outside in all manners of weather. That being said, most of us have a preference for our own version of perfect running weather. For me, that would be the low to mid 50’s. Warm enough to wear minimal clothing, but cool enough that overheating and dehydration are not a factor. Dry is optimal, but even a light rain is tolerable at that temperature. But please, no wind. That is an element I am not overly fond of, especially on race day.
The location is flexible, but it would be defined by the crowd. The huge events in downtown Portland are one kind of fun, the mid-sized ones in the metro area another, and the small ones in Yamhill County also have their merits. The running community is a supportive one, oftentimes regardless of whether we know each other or not. We cheer on strangers and friends alike, share insight and necessities alike in times of need, assist the competition in staying on course and bolster faith in humanity in countless ways. But there are definitely huge differences in interactions when considering a 60 person race and a 6000+ one. Regardless, I am going to know at least a few people. But the intimacy and friendliness of the small to mid size ones are my favorite. Acknowledging a number of friends and supporters before and after the event (and sometimes during) is a big part of running. I have built up a certain amount of notoriety in some part due to the frequency of my attendance and the caliber of my performance. I just hope that my partial deafness and confidence in my abilities would not present an air of arrogance that would be off-putting.
So if anyone with a special connection to St. Nick could just forward this that would be awesome. I may not be at the top of the ‘nice’ list but I don’t believe this is a coal year. I did have a lot of barbecues last year, which was fun, but I learned my lesson. I don’t think I ask for much, but if this little insignificant chance event could occur that would be jolly.
Oh and that Lamborghini? It would be a Gallardo LP 570-4. In blue.