Ladies and gentleman, drum roll please….bangity, bangity, bangity, bangity (and so on)…
I am a runner.
Lift your jaws off the floor and I’ll explain.
Today was race day. The half marathon that I have been dreading for 2 months arrived way too fast. I’ve spent the last 2 weeks in a state of complete angst over this. I wasn’t ready, not even close. My longest run before today was 6.6 miles and I walked half of that and it still was awful! Cold and windy.
But enough about that run. Let’s go back a couple weeks…
I was getting ready to go for run. It was a perfect day for it. I will say that the day before it snowed…that’s right, on April 23rd, we got over an inch of snow at my house. But this day was perfect. I was actually in my running clothes, planning to do 7-8 miles, when I slipped on a wet spot on the deck, came down on my right knee 1st then bounced my face against the deck, biting halfway through my lip.
Are you kidding me??!!??
No run that day…or that week. I was hobbling around for several days. It wasn’t a bad injury. A seasoned “runner” probably could’ve pushed through it better than I did. It was just the principle of it. Why is every step I take trying to be a runner so dang hard?
I did a whopping 2.5 miles the following Saturday. I was cranky, disgruntled and trying to figure out how to justify skipping this whole stupid race and not feel like a quitter. This is not how you become a runner.
A few days ago a marathon running friend of mine gave me an idea and it lead to a great solution.
I would run…but I would not run 13.1 miles. I would run 7-8. Isn’t that the same as quitting? Isn’t that failing?
See, my reasons for taking on this challenge were not to see if I could run 13.1 miles. I knew I wouldn’t be able to reach that in the short time I trained. I walked 2 half marathons in a weekend when I did the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer so I knew that I could walk that distance. I didn’t have to prove that.
The reasons that I signed up for this in the first place were to pull myself out of a negative hole that I had been sinking in and give me something positive to focus on. (http://www.beyondmediocre.net/?p=354)
I also wanted to support my friend that had already signed up for the race. It turns out that she didn’t need any encouragement from me. She was pretty determined all by herself. She’s a rockstar in my book.
I also wanted to push myself farther than I had before and learn to enjoy running. That was the only thing I still had left to prove come race day. I wasn’t doing very well with this. My mind often got the best of me while running and I was struggling with the learning to enjoy it part. So, I decided that I would rather run 8 miles, which would still be a push, and have a positive experience and want to run again then drag myself 13 miles alone and hate every minute of it.
That’s what I did.
I joined my friend at mile 5. She was starting to slow down a bit by that point which is the only reason I was able to keep up. She cheered me on. She poked and prodded and almost dragged me at times. She was a constant source of encouragement.
“You can do it. Baby steps. You got this. Breathe slower. We’re almost there. It’s all mental.“
At one point I was having a hard time catching my breath (which often happens to me on hills) and it was her that kept me from having a mini panic attack (which happened during one of my training runs when I was having trouble breathing going up a hill. Tip, panic doesn’t make breathing easier.). The truth is, without her, I wouldn’t have done as well as I did. I still would have finished. But I would have taken much longer and had a constant negative mental debate the entire time. It wouldn’t have been an experience that I would ever want to repeat.
Yes, you need to be able to push yourself. Take yourself to a place that stretches what you think you’re capable of without relying on others. But, there is something to be said for surrounding yourself with people who have strength where you’re weak. People that will encourage you to reach further than you thought you could go. People that will help you reach your goals. She was that for me today. It’s appropriate given that she is my oldest friend. Our support for each other goes back 20 years. I’m glad that I took this challenge with her. I’m inspired by the determination and strength that she has. She’s an amazing example for her kids.
Side note – her 3 year old daughter ran in a kids 1K fun run after our race. Watching her finish with a huge smile on her face and showing us her medal was a highlight of the day. The next generation of runners is born.
My friend’s next step – a marathon in the fall. Wow. Mine – not a marathon, that’s for sure! Maybe a couple 5Ks, a 10K in the fall and I would like to actually complete this half marathon next year. No, I do not see myself doing a marathon. Not this year. Probably not next year either. I’m going to take it slow from here on out. I’m going to stay in a place where I can enjoy this and not want to run the opposite direction (pun intended) because of the pressure. I’ll just run when it feels good and see where it goes from here…
Moral of the story: Push yourself. You’ll never know what you can accomplish until you try. And surround yourself with people that understand what you’re doing and will support you the whole way, especially when it gets hard.
Thanks for taking this running journey with me and listening to my whining and complaining about this. Let’s talk about something else for a while. It’s almost summer, on to the garden…