And just like that, weeks of training for Cap City have come to a close.
It’s really amazing when you stop and think about it.
The hundreds, thousands, of people surrounding you on race day have spent the last three months lacing up that same pair of shoes, day after day…after day.
Early mornings, last-minute late-night jogs, concrete legs, beeping Garmins, legs up the wall.
There were days you felt light and buoyant, your runner’s high coupled with your ‘Best of the 90s’ playlist could carry you beyond your set mileage, if you wanted.
When everything in the world felt right.
You notice things you wouldn’t in the car. When the world is moving all too fast.
Rushing for groceries, school pickup, that appointment, happy hour, presentation, coffee date.
But you now see the birds you had only heard chirp before.
And the family you regularly see leave in their mini-van, headed to ball games, is home, playing catch in the front yard.
The smell of backyard barbecue. Or freshly-cut grass.
Pelotonia riders training, riding in sync, with cancer ribbons tied around their handlebars.
You run further than planned, because there is so much more to see.
And then there were the quiet victories on the treadmill. Stronger performances in Clocked, The course. A faster mile time at Tread.
Your shock over your improvement motivates you to continue, as you carry a grin from class into the parking lot.
And those hundreds, thousands, surrounding you on the starting line also struggled.
Abandoned long runs.
Doubt. Fear. Anxiety.
But it’s race day. And you’re standing at that starting line with others who know exactly what it’s like to put themselves out there, get uncomfortable…and smell like Tiger Balm on the regular.
That is how I felt yesterday.
It has been a number of years since I raced Cap City. Four? Five, maybe?
Like, actually trained, set a time goal, got uncomfortable.
And it was pretty damn exciting.
As late as February, I wasn’t running regularly.
I wasn’t attending SOS classes regularly.
And, now I’m doing both.
But I made a cardinal mistake on race day.
I could say it was because I had an off day, that my new wireless headphones I bought specifically for that day weren’t working, that I didn’t get enough sleep, or the weather conditions weren’t right.
It wasn’t any of those things. (Well, my headphones weren’t working but that can’t stand as a reason)
I simply went out too fast.
In an attempt to improve quicker, to get back to “old” Emily faster, I went out at a pace I wasn’t prepared to hold.
Sometimes, as a yogi, I like to think a lot of the work is mental—and it is, but mindfulness can only do so much.
It can enhance, but not create, performance.
I started with the 8:00 mile pace group.
Tried to keep my mind from wandering. And hunker down beside the three incredibly chatty pacers holding a pizza spatula, a mobile Papa John’s advertisement.
Wow. This feels fast. Why does this feel fast? This shouldn’t feel fast. I ran this pace run several times. Never felt like this. Nope. Never.
But wait. It’s mile 1. You’re never supposed to judge a run based off of the first mile.
CHILL OUT, Em. Geez. Your banana has barely digested and you’re already worked up.
We hit the first mile marker at 8:15.
I see Jenny. JENNY! Jenny!
In Forrest-Gump like glee I throw my hands up, and Kuzmic sees me.
Ok. I’ve got this. This isn’t too bad.
I mean, my headphones don’t work so I get to hear my labored breathing. That’s cool.
Nothing more encouraging than hearing yourself pant like a dog.
The second mile, 7:57.
I see Molly in front of me. I reach her and smile, “You don’t have to talk! I’m just so happy to see you! You look GREAT!”
She gives me that humble smile of hers and I continue.
Jenny! Molly! Maybe I’ll see an SOS-er every mile! Stronger Together!
And the third, 7:54.
And the fourth, 8:01.
I know I’m in a bad place when I become extraordinarily negative. Because I’m just not a negative person. Usually, I’m the annoyingly-happy runner commenting on all the things, talking to all the people, “beautiful dog!”, “thanks for your help today, officer!”, “oh, I love your sign!”, high fiving all the children, singing to the good (and not-so-good bands).
But all I could focus on was how heavy my legs were,
my labored breathing,
the wind (the wind!),
the sun (I know, an Ohioan complaining about sun….like, you know I was in a bad place).
My water bottle felt heavy…all eight ounces of it.
That, somewhere, after three miles, it morphed into a medicine ball strapped to my wrist.
Umm, Gabe? Trummer? Are you guys missing Course equipment? I seem to be carrying some.
And the fifth: 8:12
I thought about the next eight miles.
And I dreaded them.
I didn’t want to go further.
And this wasn’t a “gosh-golly-gee whiz, Em”, just push through it and you’ll be fine.
It just wasn’t my day. I went out faster than I should have and paid the price.
As I ran down Goodale, and saw the quarter marathoners turn left, and the half turn right, I decided to turn left.
But what about the TREAD blog?!?! What will you say? Can you do that?!?
I thought about the readers of this blog. The many whom I didn’t even know before they walked up to me and said, “Hey! I read your blog and I really enjoy it.”
What provided me the greatest amount of comfort at mile five was knowing that those people enjoyed it because I was just being me. Transparent, vulnerable, not-perfect me.
And, that gave me the space to turn left.
To know that not every day is going to go your way and Cap City is not the end but the beginning.
I have a new 10k time now to serve as my baseline, 52:13, and a newfound respect for the SOS community.
Deep admiration for those who trained for and surpassed their goal (another post about these amazing individuals) as well as those who, despite what many may call a failure, celebrated my quarter marathon as a victory. Because I tried.
“You got out there and showed up. Don’t be hard on yourself. It’s amazing. I know it was deeper than just the miles, so be proud.”
So to everyone, the TREAD trainers and runners as well as the larger SOS community, thank you. I love you long time and you best bet I’m breaking 52:13 very, very soon.
Running is the victory. #EMSOS