Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Running My Race

I ran 4 miles this morning. When I started (by walking to the corner), the air felt cool and crisp... well, as cool and crisp as air can feel in this desert in July! Then I started running. Thankfully, my bones didn't creak as much as they usually do, so I was off to a good start. By mile 2, I was really feeling good--a major plus, considering that I only had 2 miles to go.

Saturday I ran 15 miles. Yes, you read that right. FIFTEEN miles. Five miles into that run, I happened to look down at my feet. I was wearing my blue running shoes. My blue RETIRED running shoes. I wore them to deliver papers that morning, thinking I would change before I went running. Oops. Well, five miles into a 15-mile run is no time to run home to switch shoes, so I kept running...

Running is such a funny sport. Do you ever see people running along the side of the road and wonder what on earth they are running from? After all, they are rarely smiling. They are sweating. Profusely. Obviously exerting obscene amounts of energy. Surely there is a carrot being dangled ahead of them SOMEWHERE.

Actually, some people really do run for FUN. I am not one of those people. Running for the sake of running is a prescription for me to roll over and get another hour of sleep. I want to get somewhere. Do something. Have something to show for it. I signed up for the St. George Marathon this year with three objectives in mind:

1. To get in shape to hike rim to rim of the Grand Canyon in November.

2. To jumpstart my metabolism in hopes of losing the extra weight that resulted from my sixth pregnancy.

3. To finish the marathon and obtain my third St. George Marathon medal.

Some of the women I have trained with this year have a much loftier goal: Qualify for Boston. As we started running together, I quickly surmised that they were out of my league. Way. Out of. My. League. Suddenly my enjoyment had been replaced with dread, exhaustion, and self-doubt. It was time to pull back and re-evaluate.

While I enjoy running with other women for social and safety reasons, my favorite runs are by myself. I hope that doesn't make me anti-social, but I enjoy plugging into my tunes and being alone with my thoughts and my pace. When I run with my Soon-to-be-Boston-Marathoner friends, they sometimes ask me questions to which I respond, "GASP, Can I-, GASP, answer that, GASP, at the next, GASP, water break...?" And of course, their water breaks are never long enough for me to answer their questions with the depth that I would like. Of course.

When I am by myself and running up a hill, I mentally chant the mantra, "I can do hard things. I am strong. I can do hard things." When I start out with a group that eventually leaves me in the dust, I remind myself that I am not running THEIR race. I am running MY race. I choose to begin where I am and work from there. Boston has never been my goal, so I am not going to be disappointed when I don't get there. Each run that I finish is cause for celebration.

It's a great parallel to life really. How often do we try to run somebody else's race? They may be prettier, have an impressive career, cook amazingly well, have the most gifted children... and good for them! Good for THEM. They are running THEIR race. But what is YOUR race? What part of you will you share with the world?

You don't have to answer now... I'll wait until the next water break.;)