*Disclaimer* this week for Throwback Thursday, I forgot to hit "publish" and instead just hit "Save". Rookie Mistake! Hope you guys still enjoy the post!
The throwbacks I've been sharing have intentionally been throwbacks from times where I was racing and running better. Between my instagram and this blog and my vdot and strava, I have so much content on injuries, and I don't want to be defined by my injuries. I don't even want to be defined by my running or my races. This post really speaks to how I feel about running right now. It is a huge part of who I am, but it's not all of me. It's probably my number one teacher, and the closest I get to being able to feel and hear God (maybe for you, whatever higher power you subscribe to)... but it's not all of me. It' is my passion; good and bad... and this post was a real turning point in my running career so I thought I'd share. I wrote it the night before my first half marathon. Enjoy!
Runners Set, March 20, 2010
It's time to go...
I just finished my last training run before the race. A whole 25 minutes! Tomorrow at this time, I will be just a little more than 1/3 of my way to the finish line at the New Bedford Half Marathon... I'm surprisingly really nervous... this is a good sign. When I get nervous it's because I am walking a narrow path to greatness.
My right side feels better with the new shoes. The tightness is still present, but with the increase in shock absorption, it hasn't been as painful... and each day with the foam roller, stick, stretching... whatever... I feel like there are improvements. My hope is that my legs are now a "normal" tightness, and I'm just being paranoid. I always have issues with my right side, but considering how much work I've put into this one race in addition to the fact that it's the longest race I've done, I guess I'm just a little more anxious than I would be for a 5k. If I felt this way for a 5k, I wouldn't be worried at all.
So I've made my goal clear. Sub 1:25... but let me clarify something else, something very important. Whatever the clock says tomorrow will not change how I value myself. I feel like a lot of runners put a lot of stock in one particular race, and if it doesn't go according to plan, they feel like less of a person then they would be if they had run their goal time. I used to feel this way very much (in college especially), but I've gotten better at letting go of the bad aspects of a race and taking some good learning experiences with me... I think it's one of the reasons I am never at a total loss if I race poorly. I have put a lot into this race, and I know I can run the time above (I actually think I can run sub 1:20, but I'm not ready to start at a pace necessary to do that yet... I'll take this one learning experience at a time)... but this race, despite what I may have led you to believe, was never about the time.
I ran a terrible race at Mayors Cup this past year. Possibly the worst race of my life... I had no excuses. I was not sick (anymore), I did not cramp up, I was not injured.... I simply stopped caring. I stopped trying. I needed to run poorly that day... I can go on and on about how slow some of the times were due to a really wet and slippery course, but I'd be lying if I said that was a factor. Caitlyn Clark does not run 19:48 in the 5k... but I did. I ran mile 1 slightly slower than I normally would, and then decided somewhere in the second loop that I was sick of running the 5k... so I gave up. I was mad at myself for not training harder and I felt sorry for myself for running in this competitive race without fitness. I let everyone in the world pass me as I dropped to probably 7 minute pace... or slower... but then in mile 3 I "rallied" just to get it over with. I ran my fastest mile of the race. What bothered me most is how easy it was for me to pass everyone around me. There were so many people running as hard as they could, trying their absolute best, and I just blew by them because I was bored from jogging and wanted to just finish. I was so ashamed. Each person I passed deserved to beat me that day, but they didn't because I have some natural ability and had been leaning on it the whole season... I guess I had forgotten that you can't lean on natural ability at the Mayors cup... and I shouldn't be running races that way anywhere else, either. I should be giving my best.
My coach laughed at me in disgust... "What the hell were you doing out there?" ... I just shrugged, possibly had a tear or two, and said "I can't do this anymore" ... What I meant is that I couldn't keep running the same races I ran when I was in the best shape of my life. I was tired of comparing the runner I presently was to the runner I was two years prior (even though I always suck at Mayors Cup, this was over a minute slower than what I classified as "sucky" two years before)... I was always coming up short... I knew in my heart that the lack of training was just a phase I had to go through while finishing my masters, but there was no way I could continue to have a positive outlook being consistently 2 minutes slower than my 5k PR. I had set the bar really high in nearly every event... and it was tiring to keep feeling like I was less of a person when I didn't run as fast, when really I was trying to become more of a person... a person not just a runner. I decided right there that I needed a new goal... Something I've never done before... Something that would require different training, and would give my running new life because it was something out of the ordinary for me. I decided to train for the Half! My thought was that once the half was over, I would find myself in some of the best fitness I've been in for a while, so when I switch back to the shorter track races, it wouldn't be so unreasonable and so out of reach to shoot for some PR's again.
The Half-Marathon training has helped me to focus on the process... and letting go of expectations. I still wish I had run that 3k faster, and the 5k, and the 10M... None of them were PRs, but I have learned through out this whole experience, that I actually like running for the sake of running. I used to only care about times... and I can't completely detach from that... But I have been able to detach from it just enough to approach this race in a balanced way.
My goal is to run sub 1:25. If I do, AWESOME! I'll be so happy! If I don't, I'll still be happy. I'm sure I'll look back and have some regrets, but I will not let the clock determine if my Half Marathon is "good" or "bad"... The training is part of the whole experience too, and apart from neglecting to get new shoes, there is not much I can say I regret about training. I did everything I could possibly control... So I go into this race hoping for something Awesome, but knowing that I'll hold my head high either way. I have run 81 days in a row... a personal record by about 70 days... and I am so proud!
So tomorrow while I'm racing, I'll keep in mind that I trained more consistently for this race than any other race I've done ... and since my Favorite Person Ever (Matthew) just texted me, I'll include what he wrote (he's in San Fransisco so he'll miss the race) "remember that you are a strong, focused, and an accomplished runner"... I am strong, I am focused, I am accomplished...
I am all these things either way... BUT IT SURE WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE THE RESULT TO PROVE IT! :) ;)
Forgive the Throwbacks for limited or mismatched photos. It was a real process back then and selfies weren't a thing! The photo above with the sunglasses is actually from the Half Marathon. The one at the very top is from a 5k... I don't have a ton of non-track photos on the starting line, and it was appropriate for the blog title!) I ended up running 1:25:59. I am still pretty proud of that race but I got very sick during it with chills and the next day had a fever... so I still believe my training indicated more, and I believe I will go back to New Bedford and run a time much stronger than that some day (my PR is 1:25:21 in Philly)... Not to Prove my worth, but because I just love the challenge and the process of trying to do something I've never done before.
Process over product. Right now I'm just happy to go to the gym and take deep breaths and get my heart rate up in whatever way I can.
Welcome to my blog! I've been blogging for a long time on various platforms. My intention has never been to reach the masses, but rather to give myself a chance to reflect and journal. I feel it at least challenges me to be somewhat coherent, however you can expect ramblings and grammatical incorrectness here!
I've recently been diagnosed with CECS and fPAES and had it treated with BOTOX of all things... So I suspect to see more and more people looking for answers with that in the future and hope to continue blogging so there will be easy to access follow-ups as that was helpful for me.
NOTE: Apologies that some of the pictures incorrectly load sometimes. I try to keep up with the glitches, but can't always! Hope it doesn't impact the blog experience for all the PAES visitors.