Yesterday I planned to go for a short run after work before I picked up Peanut from daycare. My first run since my race on Sunday. Three to four miles. Quick and easy. (That's all relative, I know.) Get back out there. Get the old legs pumping again. I decided not to go. But first, I called My Director for reassurance. "I don't feel like running today. You think that's ok?"
"Yes," she said. "You just ran a half-marathon. You're allowed to take a break."
You see, that's my problem. I'm incapable of giving myself a break. Even when I do give myself a break physically, I beat myself up for it mentally. A lot of that comes from the fat kid who lives within me. And yet, that fat kid is part of the reason why I run. It's a vicious cycle. And sometimes I need to get out of it. So yesterday, I did.
I gave it my all on Sunday. I thought the stars had aligned. I had a good warmup, a good stretch, a good morning overall. I was pumped. The horn sounded and we were off, and I was flying. (Relatively speaking, of course.) Throughout all of training, mind you, I struggled to get off to a decent start on my long runs. Those first two or three miles were always slow, plodding, frustrating. What was I doing wrong? How will I fix this by race day? If this happens on race day, how will I overcome it to make up the time and still reach my goal?
I never did find an answer to those questions. No matter what I did, no matter what I changed in my pre-run routine, I could not get off to a good start. And now here I was on race day, and I was killing it. My goal was to run the 13.1 miles in less than two hours (a 9:13/mile pace). But since my training didn't go well, I had amended my goal. I just wanted to beat my personal record time (2:04:22 last year).
But this amazing start, with the adrenaline coursing through me, had wiped away all of those concerns. I was in the zone. I was imagining myself beating last year's record. I had even pictured a time: 1:59:57. Why be greedy, right? I mean, under two is under two no matter how many seconds are involved. I envisioned walking through the door and hugging My Director, crying, and saying, "I did it." A raging narcissist, I was even writing the freakin' blog post in my head already. It was going to be called "Conquering Doubt in 1:59:57." I sh1t you not.
Around mile four, I spotted an inspirational sign that someone posted on their lawn for us runners. I wish I could thank the person who made that sign. It read, "Today is your someday." Instantly, that became my new race mantra. Every race I adopt a four-to-five word sentence that I repeat to myself when I need a confidence boost. (Or to settle down my spaztastic brain.)
Damn straight, I thought. How many times have I said, "Someday I'm going to run a half-marathon in under two hours?" Dozens. Well why the hell not today? So riding the adrenaline wave, I kept the pedal to the medal. Those four words carried me.
|My unofficial time. I hit 13.1 on my watch|
a minute or so before crossing the finish line.
Anyone can be a runner, which is one of the things I love about it. Even though I'm a runner, I'm not a fast guy. I have built up my stamina over the years to be able to get through these long races. In hindsight, I didn't train as hard as I did last year, when I hit my personal best time despite an injured hamstring. I think I figured that since I hurt myself last year, all I had to do was stay healthy, get my long runs in, show up on race day and finish in under two hours. Didn't work. So even though I was feeling it, even though I went for it, even though I finished and accomplished something that My Director calls "impressive," I'm disappointed.
I'm also too hard on myself sometimes, I know.
I still haven't looked up my official time. One day I will. For now, I'm taking a break from the distance races for a while. I'm going to work on my speed. Go after some new goals, some different ones.
And when I'm ready, I'll check that official time. It's probably not as bad as I think. I'll eventually run another half-marathon. But right now, this one is a reminder of a missed opportunity. Today is my someday? No, maybe another day.