Spoiler…I did NOT win the race. I know…I know…but there is always next year.
Last night (in prep for today’s Ten Mile) I ate my pasta dinner, drank lots of water, got all of my gear ready, and went to bed at 9:30. Well, I tried to go to bed at 9:30 but instead played Gems with Friends and Scramble with Friends and Words with Friends until it made me sleepy enough to go to bed for real. At 4:30am I climbed out of bed, got my layers on, did my make-up, threw on a hat, and by 5:15am I was in the Starbucks drive-through. It is simply AMAZING how quickly they can make a microwave sandwich and chai tea latte when there is NOBODY ELSE in the store or in drive-through (or awake for that matter). Who knew?!
I met my girlfriends at yet another Starbucks, we pinned on our bibs, took ibuprofen, organized our fanny packs, and we were on our way. I told you last night that despite my lack of training and being injured…I wasn’t all that worried about this race. I had decided long ago (when I got injured during training) that I was a failure so just showing up was going to be something of a success. Over the past few days as I stalked weather.com, I was so worried that it would rain (I’m not a fan of blisters or chaffing…both of which have a tendency to show up when running in the rain), because if it rained I wasn’t certain I could even bear to show up.
But it didn’t rain. In fact, it was dry and sunny and beautiful. Perfect day to show up to a race you’re not physically prepared to run!
But mentally? I was ready. I wasn’t ready for the run itself…I was ready for it to be over. I needed it to be over. For the past six weeks I have felt like a big fat failure, like a loser, I’ve stayed away from the gym, avoided talking about this run, and I’ve been generally miserable when it comes to how I feel about my ability to follow through on anything. Another plan gone by the wayside. Another goal that likely wouldn’t be accomplished. Another instance of being all talk. Sometimes when I feel like a failure I do everything in my power to become a failure of epic proportions. On the first day of ninth grade I had a health teacher, Mr. Schmidt (who always wore plaid golf pants…classic), who told us if we were going to mess up we should really try to mess up BIG. He told us not to bother getting booted from class for not listening or for talking to our neighbors…no…if we wanted to screw up we should throw a desk out the window or do something grand. At the time I thought it was sooo funny. But I think I took that to heart and have been subconsciously thinking that way ever since. Why just get bad grades in college when instead you can drink all the time and get KICKED OUT of college (late 1990s)?! Why put on a few pounds when instead you could put on 100 lbs (early2000s)?! Why do your best to train even a little for the ten mile when instead you can shut down, stop exercising completely, and while we’re at it gain a few lbs to make it even more difficult (past six weeks)?! Yeah…now THAT sounds like a plan.
I’ve spent the past six weeks telling myself that I suck. That the injury is my own fault. That I might have to back out of this race that I talked three of my girlfriends into doing (and by “talking into” I may actually mean twisting arms). That I’m ignoring my health (and yet not ignoring feeling sh-tty about that). I’ve been stuck in my head constantly telling myself terrible things. Things that I wouldn’t even tell someone I don’t like. And yet I had no problem talking to myself that way.
Earlier this week I realized what an a-shole I’ve been to myself lately. And for the first time I started feeling eager for this race. Instead of dreading it I started to look at it as the beginning of something better than what the past six weeks have been. A time for kindness, and forgiveness, and renewed energy for being as healthful as I can. I knew it was possible I’d re-injur myself pretty significantly, I knew it was probable that it would f-cking suck, I knew it was almost certainly the last time I’d run this fall (and possibly this year) and absolutely the last time I’d attempt to do any distance over a 5k, but I also knew that if it was the beginning of something better? I was totally up for the challenge.
Of the four of us, two had trained, and two of us had not. I knew I’d be hella slow because of that and because I didn’t want my injury to worsen. We started in the same corral and as my two speedy girlfriends ran off, my friend Gee and I stayed back and took it slow.
It. Was. Beautiful. As we started the run it felt foreign and it wasn’t awesome…but the scenery was distracting. I mean really distracting. So much so that as we started to pass mile markers it was hard for me to compute. ‘This totally sucks…and it’s obvious that this isn’t going to be easy but…hey look is that a crew team? I always did want to go to Harvard. Sigh. Wait what? Mile three???’ The fall colors were peaking out and steam was rising from the river and the air was crisp and the grass was green and somehow the mile markers kept going up and while again, it didn’t feel awesome, it also wasn’t the worst thing ever. It was a lovely morning, we were among thousands of people, and the fact that I was running like sh-t didn’t make one ounce of difference. I was there. I showed up. I wasn’t a failure this morning even if we were running slow.
We ran, and we walked, and by five miles we were having fun. I don’t mean merely “having fun.” We were having FUN! Running into people we knew, enjoying the fabulous cheer teams and water stop volunteers, and generally feeling so happy to be there. In fact…I don’t say this often but…I felt blessed to be there. Right? I know.
We finished, we gobbled bananas and chocolate milk and bread and salted nut rolls (a little piece of heaven), we had our pictures taken, medals(!!!) were put around our necks, we got shirts, and we tracked down my husband who had just watched us cross the finish line on the jumbotron. I couldn’t stop talking about how amazing it was and how beautiful it was and how it just really wasn’t that bad. Gee, my husband, and I went for french toast and I checked in with our two speedier girlfriends. It was unanimous. We all want to do it again next year. It went amazingly well for all four of us.
I thought this might be the last day of my running career but instead it reinforced the LOVE in the love/hate relationship I have with running. It also reinforced my faith in myself and my abilities…a faith that has been sorely lacking over the past six weeks. Just as I knew it would, my recent misery and self-loathing came to a sudden halt.
Because today I am a finisher…I never feel like a finisher…but now I have a medal to prove it.
TODAY: What if sometimes just showing up makes all the difference in the world (and one’s outlook on the world)?
PS – Huge thanks to Gee who could have gone faster but hung back with me instead. That made such a difference in how the run went for me!