I had a rough run this past week. It was a 10K here in Raleigh that I had signed up for a while ago. A man, was that a hard 6 miles.
It was my own fault; I fully admit that. I hadn’t trained well, I hadn’t been staying hydrated, I didn’t warm up a lot beforehand. I also spent the previous week at a trade show for work which meant three days of standing for eight hours straight in high heels. Not the ideal way to spend the week before a race. Plus, it was cold and rainy outside. Basically, it was the perfect storm of awfulness.
This was also my first 10K. Actually, it was my first race that was not a half-marathon. Half-marathons are all about pacing. 10Ks are a bit different. Too short to need to put as much focus on pace, but too long to just run all out. I had planned to try to focus on training on getting a little more speed. I was simply hoping to break the 1:00:00 mark. But a number of things going on in the past few weeks and months had gotten me out of the habit of running and training as I had planned.
And the moment I started running this race, I could tell it was not going well. My legs felt heavy and I was immediately exhausted. I also did not run with my phone, which I usually do. I got the new iPhone and it doesn’t fit in the pocket very well, so I figured I would just go for it without timing myself and see what happens. (Yah, I know, I need a watch.) I also somehow ended up at the front of the pack when the race started. It was a small race, only like 115 people, but still, I am not a front of the pack kind of runner. So I immediately got myself over to the side so the other faster people could pass, but then I realized just how depressing it is to see dozens of people passing you along the way.
I kept telling myself to just keep moving. It was hard. The course was very hilly, especially at the Start/Finish line area. I felt like I was moving at a snail’s pace. I kept trying to figure out in my head how long it was going to take me, since I didn’t have my phone to help me pace. I felt for sure that I was doing like a 13:00 mile, which is slower than I’ve run for all three of my half-marathons.
Much to my surprise, however, I ended up running across the finish line at 1:02:54. I was both excited that I was not running nearly as slow as I thought (It was actually a 10:08 pace), and also frustrated that I was so close to my goal and didn’t quite make it. I knew that if I had trained just a little better or if I had been pacing myself during the race, I probably could have cut off those 3 minutes. But of course, I can’t go back.
I am not fast and let’s be honest, no matter how hard I train, I will never be a race winner. I am just not built for it and I am fine admitting that. But I do at least want to feel like I am a competitor. As I was running and watching so many people pass by me and feeling sorry for myself, I had to keep reminding myself that I was not there to race anybody. I was only racing against myself. I was only fighting my own body.
And you know… isn’t that what we have spent so many years doing? Pushing ourselves… Moving on in spite of the pain… Searching frantically for the finish line… And that’s part of what I love about running. It’s such a great metaphor for our life and our journey through it. It’s not always easy, it’s not always fun, and sometimes it just downright sucks. But if we keep going and keep pushing ourselves to take that next step, we can get to where we’re going. And no ostomy or Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can hold us back.