As the crow flies straight, so to did I focus solely on my mission of running major race events this year and becoming a “runner”. Major events for me, anyways. Specializing in a way I never have. I do not know exactly how many miles I put in, though it was never enough. At least, it never felt like it was enough. Every time I stepped up to that start line I felt unprepared.
It is true that running defined my vocabulary this year. It also took over my free thoughts and ‘made me’ feel guilty when I was doing anything else but something related to my training programs. Thinking about much else other than all the running I had to do was very difficult anyways when attempting to dial in that 20 – 30km distance. I could never shake the feeling that giving my all in any given moment wasn’t good enough. I found myself so overwhelmed with training and logging miles that I`d sacrifice friends and sleep and nutrition and even my own miles and then go out and race and wonder why I never achieved much.
My worst performance this year, by far, was a half marathon I signed up for last minute with a work colleague while in San Francisco this fall. Brutal it was but in hindsight it was exactly as it should have been. 6 weeks off with no running, a stomach infection from a volunteer stint in Peru and 12 miles of mountain biking in Marin County the day before and a brutal run in with a piece of rebar all equates to a big fat character builder.
Pictured: Me building character – it was painful.
This race turned out to be a very important one for me. Aside from the kick-ass participation medals (yay for no zeros, lol) and finding out the hard way that San Francisco truly is just one big bleeping hill repeat – I look back on it knowing that despite all the literal shit I went through I somehow pulled myself together and finished strong. I recall watching the 2:45 minute pacer passing me… yes I said 2:45… and in that moment I muscled up a year’s worth of grit and determination and forced my feet to move. And move they did. I had my best finish. Well, save and except for my glorious golden puke of course – that was sheer greatness.
Running in San Francisco the way I did also made me realize that I did train really, really hard this year. As hard as I could have managing all of the obligations and priorities I have. And that I am capable of great things when I do giver my all even if that means I finish mid pack. Because you know what? The middle of the pack means I am surrounded by hard triers. Ahead of me and behind me – My kind of people.
The world works in mysterious ways. If I had kept training as hard as I did this past year for all of the other races I ran prior to crossing that Golden Gate, for this half – then I wouldn’t have appreciated mid packers as much as I do in this moment. Nor would I have appreciated me and my investments this year.
I truly am happy of myself.
And you can be too (of yourself). Contrary to my description of trying to become a runner, running is actually simple. Don’t let this post scare you away. We all make excuses – the weather, weak ankles, sore back, too old, too young, too tired, too busy, my knees hurt, etc. etc. etc. But the truth is, we all have capacity for this movement. You just need to move. Go forward. Put your feet to pavement, to trail, to mountain top, to grocery store – just. move. forward. It does not need to be fast or far or even frequent. It just needs to be in your vocabulary. Just TRY.
Because if you try and I try?
There is a good chance we’ll be running shoulder to shoulder in a race one day.
How awesome is that.