Our running group just wrapped up week 4 of marathon training and, if I do say so myself, we are looking pretty good.
It feels great to be reunited with this bunch of like-minded freakazoids who’s idea of a relaxing Sunday morning is lacing up their sneakers for miles of sweating. I really missed the camaraderie of the group over the summer; it is a lot harder to push yourself to go a little farther and a little faster when there isn’t any one else holding you accountable, and it’s also a lot less fun.
Last weekend I skipped the group run for the second of the BioAstin Marathon Readiness Series races. This was a 20k (or 12.4ish mile) race that consisted of three laps of a 4+ mile loop. It was hot and a little boring, and overall I felt tired and was disappointed with my time of 2:02. I had hoped to run it in less than two hours, but I guess I should have run a little faster. I’m still working on moderating my pace early in the run so that I can finish strong instead of dwindling to a sluggish stagger at the end. Today, I suffered a similar fate.
We gathered this morning at the Kualoa Beach park for a 10 mile out and back along the coast. This is a run I have done a few times before and, while it is a lovely run with ocean views, it can be quite hot as there is little shade. Today we got lucky and there were some tradewinds blowing, but it was still warm. Although I enjoy this run because it is quite scenic, I kind of always sputter out at the end; there is something about an out and back or a repeated loop that psychs me out.
I think the spontaneity of an unfamiliar route helps keep me engaged when I run; I can’t fall into the trap of remembering that I was going a little faster when I passed that stump the first time, or, I wasn’t quite so hot and sweaty when I saw that dead bird before. I get mentally bogged down by having “been there and done that” already, and it is a habit I need to break. Today, I ran a little above my pace on the way out, and, as I left the safe harbor of the aid station at the turn around point, I felt my legs protest when I began to run.
My gut instinct, when my legs feel rubbery and I’m hot, tired and can’t breathe, is to get discouraged. It is easy to look at the backs of the faster runners receding into the distance and think ” you guys have it made,” but, honestly, running sucks for everyone. This is important to remember. It doesn’t matter if you’re fast or slow. If you’re running 10 miles or 5; running sucks (although, yes, it’s safe to say that there is twice as much suck if you are running 10 miles compared to 5). Running sucks, and it isn’t easy.
I reminded myself of this as I started on the second half of our run. My legs felt heavy and rubbery, my lungs had collapsed, and I was leaving a trail of sweat droplets in my wake. I saw the pair of ladies who had left the aid station after me pass me and then surge off over the horizon, and, just as I started to think “it’s easier for them,” I caught myself and instead thought “you go girls.”
As soon as I let go of that discouraging thought, I felt better. So what if it was hot out and I was running at a 12 minute pace, at least I was running. And so what if those ladies, who I am normally ahead of, were having a great day and I couldn’t keep up; good for them. They were just as hot as I was, they were breathing the same humid air, and they were working at least as hard as the rest of us. Kudos to them.
I allowed myself the luxury of plodding along for a couple of miles and then felt rested enough to try for a strong finish for the last three. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I was running along the sparkling ocean; another great day to be alive. Next time, I will remember to slow down at the beginning of the run and not try to keep up with those who are feeling fresh and fast if I’m not also feeling it. You’ve got to run on the legs you have and not the ones you wish you had, and some days are better than others.