This past weekend I ran the Rock the Parkway Half Marathon, sort of on a whim. And by whim I don’t mean I just woke up one day without ever running a block, laced up and busted out a half marathon. I run. A lot. Lately, my long run distances are 10-12 miles, so to be completely honest, I wasn’t even nervous. I knew I could do the miles so when my AMAZINGLY smart and talented (more on that later) running group suggested I join them 4 days before the race, I said “Fo sho!”.
Never in my running / triathlon career have I been worried about time. I haven’t cared about PR’s (personal records), pace, splits or timing chips. The only goal I have ever set for myself before each race is that I will not walk. Even if I am running so slow that the frozen grapes I put in my pocket for fuel have actually had time to ferment, turn into wine and are being gulped by all of the people who’ve actually crossed the finish line. I’m sodetermined to not walk that during my first half marathon ever, I actually peed myself so I didn’t have to stop at a porta-potty. Yep. I’m hardcore.
*Sidebar: If you tell me you’ve never tinkled or doodied in your pants while running, it’s only a matter of time, friend. Or you’re lying.
The friends I was running with on Saturday all had personal time goals. Some were faster than what I run, some were slower. And one was RIGHT where I should be if I really challenged myself. So I did. I adopted her goal to run the half in under 2:00. That’s a 9 minute mile. For 13 miles. I’ve never done that before – I have always run a pace that was “comfortable”. We agreed to follow the pacer (a dude who runs in an orange shirt while carrying a tall stick with my goal of 2:00 printed on it). As long as the pacer was behind us, we knew we’d break 2:00. Easy, right?
The miles ticked by and I continued to feel strong. My knees felt great, my breathing was steady, I was hydrating with my Homemade Honey Sports Drink, and I was focused. Then I hit it. The wall. It happened when I was approaching mile marker 10, only to discover it was only mile marker 9. UGH. Suddenly my brain started telling me lies:
“You can’t keep this pace up for another 4 miles.Slow down to where it’s comfortable.”
“Your feet are blistering and probably bleeding.”
“You should just walk through this aid station. It’s only 30 seconds. Just walk.”
“Why do you do this? You hate running.”
“If you feel like this NOW, you’ll never finish a full marathon.”
“Husband is still sleeping. You could be, too.”
Some athletes hit the wall in the form of physical exhaustion. My wall materializes in the form of a bratty, spoiled little bully. If you’ve never seen the movie “Run Fatboy Run”, this is exactly what was going on in my noggin from mile 9-12:
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I took it one mile at a time. I told myself:
“You can run a mile. Just one more mile, then you can stop. Okay, how ’bout one more?”
“Don’t slow down. You’ll be so mad if you slow down.”
“See that girl with the annoyingly cute striped tank top? Don’t let her beat you.”
“Don’t you DARE let the pacer pass you.”
“You’ve told people your goal. Do you want to tell them you didn’t make it?”
“Husband is still sleeping. While you are kicking ‘boose and taking names!”
And I broke through. I took that little brat by the pigtails, gave her a swirly, then beat her to the finish line. The last mile I pushed as hard as I could, and crossed the finish at an 8:09 mile! Eat my shorts, you little guttersnipe (when I googled “another word for brat”, that’s what came up. Hey – I didn’t write the internet!)!
Oh yea, and I broke 2:00. By 2 minutes and 3 seconds. And you know what? Now I want to do better. So, I guess I care about time now.
And what do you do after a great day of running? Brunch, of course! Remember how I said my running group is amazingly smart and talented? Here’s why: Runners come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and colors. We are a group of writers, lawyers, singers, engineers, architects, marketers, trainers, accountants, doctors, administrators and the HARDEST job of all – MOMMIES!! We work hard, we celebrate victories, and we drink wine when our bodies decide it’s had enough. We wake up before the sun, we buy each other coffee, and we jump out of the crowd to run alongside each other to the finish. None of us really know what we are doing, but we are doing it together. And THAT is why I love my running group.