Monday, June 6, 2011

Running...The View From (Back) Here.

Today was the worst running day ever.

Sometimes with running, as with anything else in life, you can just inexplicably have a really bad day. Today was one of those sometimes.

As a runner, you can only hope that the aforementioned bad day will happen during training and not on race day. Today was race day.

Today was not an important race. I wasn't trying to qualify for Boston. It was just a local charity race, that I was going to enjoy with Kristi and Elizabeth, two friends who run the same pace as I do. Today should've been a perfect day. I was trained, rested and hydrated. And 15km is my favourite distance. It should've been easy, a no brainer, a cake walk, a walk in the park. It should've been... but it wasn't. Today was anything but easy.

I knew from the get go, that I wasn't going to have a good race, but since it always takes me 5km to convince my body to actually come running with me, I thought I'd eventually just find my groove. But that didn't happen today. I struggled to get to 1km, was falling behind by 2km, and at 3km, I told Kristi and Elizabeth to go ahead without me. They didn't want to leave me behind, but I was holding them back. They suggested that perhaps I turn around and just do the 5km race. No. I wasn't going to do that. My bib said I was running 15km, so that was what I was going to do. Quitting wasn't an option. Neither was walking. I was just going to have to run slowly. Very slowly.

I watched my friends pull ahead and away from me. They kept turning around to see if I was okay. But at around 4km, they disappeared around a bend. I knew I couldn't catch them. My race was over. So I made the shift in my head...this was no longer a was just a run. Time was no longer going to be a factor. There wasn't going to be any chest bumping, fist pumping, personal best success story for me when I got to the finish line. Not today.

I had to change my goal. My new goal was just to finish the race...however long it took.

Dozens of people started to pass me. People who I never normally see. I don't usually see them, because I'm so far ahead of them. Today I got to see what they always see. I got to see the backs of all the other runners.

I soon began to realize, that for some people this is what every race looks like. Every km marker seems like it's located 10 miles away and every hill feels like climbing Everest. Yes, I was struggling today, but some of these runners struggle every single day.

The overweight runners, the older runners, the runners with disabilities or chronic illness, the ones with issues and addictions. And all the runners who are just plain slow. Here I was running alongside them. And some of them were passing me.  

Although I was losing time, I was starting to gain something. Perspective.

Because time no longer factored into my race run,  I was able to talk to the elderly gentleman in his 70's who shuffled along. I was able to chat with an overweight woman who'd already lost about 100lbs. I was able to hug the last woman runner at the turnaround and tell her to keep going. And I was able to run the last km with a woman who had knee trouble.

I saw some extraordinary ordinary people at the back of the race. And I felt priviledged to run with some of them. They are the unseen winners at every single race. And I usually miss them while I'm up ahead. They don't fly around the course in record time. They never make it to the podium. They simply compete to complete.They just want to finish. 

Today will go not go down in my record books as one I can brag about. But if you really want to see my race stats, you can view them here

Today I was at the back of the race. I hope I don't have to be there again, but it was okay to be there, at least just for today. 

Today was just about getting to the finish line. I did that. And in doing that, I met some inspiring people along the way. So I guess it wasn't such a bad day at the races after all.

Catching up with Elizabeth and Kristi at the all important finish line!

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