This weekend was my first attempt at a run longer than the half marathon distance. My previous long run of 13.2 was technically longer, but it was supposed to be a 14-miler, and I crashed and burned so badly it was a run hardly worth celebrating. I assessed the damage when I got home: I had waited too long in the day, and ran in the sun in an exposed course. Coupled with bar hijinks from the night before, it was no wonder I failed.
This time I did everything right. I was talked into joining a group run with some Your Pace or Mine runners on the Paint Creek Trail at 6am. The leader, Sue, assured me that I wouldn’t slow anyone up. She was running double sixteen mile days all weekend in preparation for an ultra and told me if anything, I’d be pacing her. I ate a big carby meal the night before and went to bed early. I was going to KILL this run! I kept up with the group for the first six miles until disaster struck.
Since I wasn’t able to, ahem, “relieve” myself before the run, my stomach started acting up at mile seven. When that finally calmed down my shin started screaming. Soon I didn’t even notice my shin because my hips were screaming louder. The other runners were so far ahead at this point they were out of sight. The only runner trailing me was Sue, who had already run 48 miles in the previous two days. This was a huge blow to my confidence. Toward the end of the run a spontaneous whimper came out of my throat, as if my body had run out of healing options and crying was the only thing left.
When I finally got back to my car, some of the other runners were still hanging around the parking lot. “How was your run? Are you okay? What happened out there?” They all asked. I hate pity. I’ll tell you what happened: you’re all experienced marathoners/triathletes and I’m not as strong as you! I told you all I was slow! And to the girl who is also training for her first marathon and claimed to be slow, but kept up with the group the whole time, fuck you! Fuck you lots!!!
Okay, I didn’t say that. I just blamed my stomach and shrugged my shoulders and got in my car so I could get as far away from these people as possible before the tears came. They didn’t come, at least not until that night.
I kept my hurt feelings from Randy when I got home. After walking around the Renaissance Festival in the hot sun for four hours (my bright idea!), and drinking plenty of mead, I was spent. As we sat watching TV that night, I just started bawling. I told Randy about my disastrous run and how I doubted I could complete a marathon after all. Why was I forcing something that wasn’t meant to happen? I’m not a good runner, and today’s run permanently sealed my fate. All my life I had just wanted one thing to be really good at, and running sure as hell wasn’t it. After my bulimia running had made me feel heatlhy and stong, now I was feeling weak again. Maybe my family was right, running was a waste of my time which would be better spent making grandchildren.
After trying to console me repeatedly with all of my accomplishments thus far, Randy finally said, “Don’t worry about everyone else. Just run your own race. I’m proud of you. Now be proud of yourself.” For a man who can barely spell, Randy sure can be smart sometimes.
Run my own race. Don’t run for the approval of others. That’s exactly what I needed to hear. Overcoming this doubt has made me more determined than ever. Every run is a learning experience and I already know what I need to do differently next time. Number one change: run by myself.
I’ll leave you all with a quote from one of my favorite movies. If you know it, you win my undying respect and admiration:
‘It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”