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tough being terrible

May 2nd, 2010

Race bib and medal

This morning, I got up at 6am, showered, pulled and pried myself into various forms of performance spandex, and drove across town with the sole purpose of running for a little more than an hour with 12,000 other insane souls.

Since November, I’ve been struggling with shin splints; worse on my left leg than right, but noticeable on both. I’ve been to the doctor. I’ve rested. I’ve stretched. I’ve cross trained. I’ve done it all, and they still haunt me. Going into this race, I was pain free for several weeks until my last few training runs. Then, more discomfort on the left shin and calf. I opted to take more time off rather than push it. I rested for three weeks until this morning, and decided to go as slow as I felt I should, even if I ended up walking the whole route.

I won’t lie.

The first 2 miles felt pretty rough. Barely a third of the way in, my calves and shins cramped up terribly. I was near tears, and if it wasn’t for Moira, I may have called it quits. Instead, I walked until it felt better, and was surprised that it did feel better after a little while.

By the 4th kilometer, I started to enjoy myself.

Somewhere around 6km, I remembered exactly why I love to run; that incredible feeling of invincibility, when my feet barely touched the pavement, when I floated, when I flew, when I felt that I could just run forever.

I finished the race at 1 hour 11 minutes and 52 seconds. Well over 7 minutes a kilometer, and a slow enough time to place me approximately 10,500th in the race overall.

And yet, although I only beat 12.5% of the participants to the finish line, I am so freaking proud of myself right now.

For someone as competitive as me, it can be tough to be terrible. I like to go all out. I do the research, I learn as much as I can, and I try for the best at every challenge. Almost a year after I started running, I’ve realized that my inability to be the best at this is precisely why I love to run.

I’m never going to be the fastest. (Unless maybe I’m running marathons into my 90s!) I’m likely never going to place in the top 10 of any race for my age group and gender.

And I’m totally, 100% ok with that.

For me, running races is about the journey my mind and body go through along the way. It’s about the very personal challenge of pushing through when it feels hopeless. Of saying “I can… maybe…” instead of “not a chance.” Of focusing on the things within me; my core, my breath, my stride. And the things outside; the pack, the weather, the spectators, and the scenery.

This is why I run. For myself. To be inside my own head and body for a half hour, an hour, or two. To put on some good tunes. To feel my feet fly.

And it’s also, maybe, a little about the bling.

The Bling!

The best part about racing? If you finish, you win. At least in my mind.

I may be a terrible runner, but I finished today, much faster than I thought I could, with my hands raised above my head and a huge smile on my face.

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14 Responses to “tough being terrible”

  1. vicky Says:

    great blog entry!!
    You are brave to fight thru pain.
    I would have quit..I know it.
    I had an awesome day too.
    Read my blog entry (if you want)

  2. stephanie Says:

    Love love love love this, a million times. Pretty much every word resonated with me in terms of my own journey with running. I’m slow, but the challenge of long races lights this fire in me that I don’t get with things that I do to mastery. It’s hard, and it’s painful, and it’s (most) every day. 🙂

  3. Kirsten Says:

    I absolutely LOVE this. I’m so slow with running, often walking in between, but it’s this exact feeling that makes me persevere. I haven’t done any races/marathons and I don’t think I will for a while but honestly, this post inspires me to try that much harder.

  4. mizzbananie Says:

    i totally get this… i can’t run cuz of a sciatica issue, but i can ride my bike. it makes me feel so many good, powerful things. and i experience a part of life that was closed to me before. it’s so great, huh? congratulations!

  5. Molly Says:

    well you feel about running the way I feel about knitting – and vice versa. I’m really good at running – and take it pretty seriously. and I love, love, love it. But with knitting – I’m a beginner and I will never be a designer or publish a book or have a blog with gorgeous professional looking photos or knit even half the complicated things that you have. But I knit and I learn new things and I’ve finished some nice things that I’m really proud of. Things that I wear and things that keep the people I love warm. And that’s pretty great.

    Isn’t funny how at some point in our lives we do things to be the best at them. And then it’s ok to do things just to love them and not worry about measuring yourself? I guess that’s growing and becoming more wise.

  6. Nicky Says:

    Congrats on finishing! It sounds like you’re enjoying it, which really in the end is all that matters.

  7. Dr. Steph Says:

    Go you!

    I find it feels bad until I hit 3.5km. Too bad I’m only running 5km right now!

    Congrats on the run. And finding something you love to do.

  8. Cindy Says:

    I’m about to enter my first event – THe Vancouver Sun Run (well it will be a walk – can’t run that far yet). I’ve had trouble with shin splints the last while too and I’ve found that if I start slow – excruciatingly slow – and flat, I can avoid them. By 2km I can walk my fast pace (with a bit of run thrown in). Finishing is the important part though!

  9. Jamie Says:

    I had big issues with shin splints years ago and discovered it was at least partially due to my sneakers. I usually wore nikes, but had bought adidas because they were cheaper and that was the season my shin splints started! I switched shoes again and made sure to do lots of stretches before during and after – holding each stretch for a count of 30. Plus there was the icing/heat treatment each evening – 10 mins each and switch. Heat heals the ice soothes.
    Congrats on completing the run despite it all! So awesome! I am jealous jealous jealous! Here’s to many more! And yes, the medals are awesome!

  10. Lee Ann Says:

    Dude, I’m so proud of you. You are made of win.

  11. Lucretia Says:

    I love this: “The best part about racing? If you finish, you win. At least in my mind.” Beautifully said. I agree with you 100%!

  12. anne Says:

    Love it. My whole office (of non-runners) decided to do 10 miles a week, then whomever missed the mark, buys a round of beers the following week.

    Albeit, I’m a bit poorer, I’ve accomplished a lot more than I thought I could. It’s totally about getting out there and laying down some track – not how fast, or how hard, etc. etc. Keep it up! Also, is it coincidence that your anti-spam word is “alpaca?”

  13. Leigh Says:

    It’s not like I show my medals or anything, but I do love getting the bling!

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