UPS AND DOWNS
This morning I ran in a local 5K. It's a route I run frequently and therefore know every inch of. I'd been looking forward to it for weeks. When I woke up this morning, it was already pretty warm and muggy. I did my normal pre-run routine and got to the registration table in plenty of time.
I hate being early to races because then you have more time to stand around getting nervous. I found a patch of shade and just kind of stood there... getting nervous. I wasn't out to break any world records, that's for sure. But I wanted to do well. My PR for a 5K is 26:55 (although if we wanna get technical, that was a race without a chip so I suppose it could have been a few seconds less than that.)
Over the years, I've definitely improved. I used to always be in the 28:00 range. I guess what would make me really happy would be to break 26:00... even if it were just 25:59. There's something about having that 25.
So anyway, I'm standing there minding my own business when this lady who's stretching beside me says,
"Guess we're all fighting for the shade today, huh?"
"Yeah. It's pretty hot already," I answered.
"Yeah - I hope I don't go down again."
"Last week I collapsed in the middle of the SoAndSo Classic, see?" She pointed to her nose. There was a scab on it and one on her cheek.
"Ouch! I bet that sucked," I replied.
"Yeah, I really pushed myself. I'm not so good in the heat. Last year I went down in a 5K right at mile 3. I could see the finish line! Not today. I'm taking it easy. Gonna jog it. Not pushing for more than a 24:00."
Great. I should have known she was one of "those people" by her 2% body fat. She proceeded to tell me all about how fast she can run and how she only needs a 4:10 to qualify for Boston because she's 51. Then, the dreaded question:
"How fast do you usually average a 5K?"
"Uhh.. like 25 or 26," I lied.
"Oh good. Maybe I'll just stick by you today then."
"You know, you're young. You could really improve your time with some speedwork," she offered.
"Yeah well, I haven't really been running that long," I lied again.
"Hey, I'm gonna so get some water - I'll be right back!"
When she walked away, I quickly rounded the corner and lost myself in the crowd. She'd totally fucked up my self-esteem and I was pissed. Pissed at myself for not running more or doing speedwork. Pissed at ice cream for being so creamy, sweet, and evil.
As I was running the race, I started letting go of my bad feelings. So what if I am not the world's fastest runner? At least I am not insane enough to push myself to the point of passing out in a race... seemingly on a regular basis! So what if I don't have 2% body fat? Who cares what the clock says anway? I passed younger, fitter people and had a really good race, despite the oppressive heat and hilly course.
When I got to the clock at the end, it said 27:50 (without chips). Although a little deflated, I still felt pretty good. I was out there doing something that not everyone can do, and I did it to the best of my ability.
And now I need to go take a shower and get to a graduation party. A friend of mine from high school just earned her law degree from Fordham and I'll get to see a bunch of people I haven't seen in 13 years. And 13 years ago, I wasn't a runner and was 30 lbs. heavier. So there's hope that my ego may bounce back today after all!