This race was different from the other races I’ve done. It was different because I was trying to race it. The goal wasn't Just finish and have fun this time. I was excited because that was exactly why I wanted to be a part of this team. I wanted to be challenged and aim for goals I would never push myself to on my own.
I missed my goal. By a lot. From the moment I saw the goal I knew it was aggressive. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, I was nervous. I was nervous for about 11.5 miles. I didn't have any major cramps or walls or stomach issues, but my legs weren't sold on the pace. By 11.5, I was just pumping towards the finish line. I knew I wasn’t going to hit my goal and I focused solely on breezing down
5th street to the celebration where I got to stop moving. I looked at my watch constantly, checking my pace.
I could watch marathoners and read their stories/splits/workouts for days on end. I don’t know what it is about people who can run long distances at crazy fast speeds, but it just impresses the heck out of me. The thing that really intrigues me is What’s going on in their head? For me to run a consistent, aggressive pace, I need strongly prefer someone dogging me. A speed workout with a constant view of your coach with a stopwatch is one thing. Miles of road with the opportunity for your mind to drift and your pace to slide are another. Yes, it’s physically hard to maintain that pace for 13 miles, but my mind struggled to focus too. I shift into autopilot, following people, taking in sights, mentally counting dinner plates for Thanksgiving dinner. And suddenly, I glance down at my watch and my that mile was 45 seconds off pace. How in the heck do people focus for 13.1 miles, never mind 26.2?
Conclusion? I like to run. I haven’t made up my mind about racing yet. Yes, I want to run races and I want to run them faster each time. I want 8 min miles to feel comfortably hard, and I want to be able to do them without laser focus on my watch. I want to be able to do them relaxed, to enjoy the sights and crowds, to run with friends. I've never actually run a race with someone. Like, start to finish or even most of the race. I would really like to try that one day, but it's a little hard to convince the fast ones to take a race at your pace, and even harder to convince first-timers that this will be FUN.
I will keep running. I will do more halfs, hopefully more fulls. There are more times to hit, more goals to achieve. Not just yet, but soon. A week after my race, it is freakin freezing and solidly in tights and mittens to run weather. The stiffness has left my lower body (took a few days) and almost all of the skin under my arms has grown back. I have thoroughly enjoyed hitting the snooze button for 40 minutes each morning, luxuriating in the warmth under my covers. I have run a little, gone to a few spin classes, and raked a rediculous amount of leaves the past two weekends.
I'm not registered for any races yet, but I'm not aimlessly floundering with no challenge in sight. This week, we host Thanksgiving and this girl has never cooked a turkey. (Or gravy.) Game on.