So the saying has been around for a while, but it’s always one of those that you think about when you see it on a shirt or something similar but in the heat of the sucky runs, you don’t truly appreciate it.
Yesterday, I had the fortune of representing Fitness Sports at the 36th running of the Capital Striders Capital Pursuit 10 mile. I was the race director for this event for 2 years and know the difficulty behind putting on this event, but have never had the opportunity to run it even in my years before becoming RD or years after. It’s an amazing event and one that the city of Des Moines should be really proud of putting on…but I digress…
I signed up late on Wednesday as I’ve been dealing with a weird calf issue and wanted to make sure that was all set before I gave the race a go. I did a 10 mile training run earlier in the day just to test to see how the leg would respond to the distance as I haven’t really put much distance on it in the last couple of weeks. I wanted to give a nice hard effort to see what I was capable of. Needless to say, it felt great, I signed up and Sunday morning comes around.
I came into the race with a good feeling of being confident in my ability to run well, but knew that a really fast time wasn’t going to happen because of the projected heat and humidity. I’ve run in hotter temps, but the exertion level is so much different when you have a pretty stout goal in mind during a 10 mile race and it’s 80 then when it’s 100 during an ultra.
We started a few minutes late due to a train on the course and the miles were actually feeling really good. Breathing was good, heart rate was good, my legs felt strong. A systems were checking off really well…then we got to the Drake neighborhood and this is where the fecal matter hit the rotary oscillator. I wiped my face and nothing came off of my face…ruh ro Rorge…4.5 miles in and I’ve already stopped sweating….this isn’t going to end well….
I was running with my AMAZING friend Sara and she was running STRONG and is a freaking BADASS!!!!! She’s known me for years and has seen me at my lowest lows as she’s been a part of my crew for 2 ultras and is one of the most inspirational and motivating people that I’ve had the pleasure of being friends with (and if your kid is in the Roosevelt school district, they need to go out for track/cross country to be coached by her). I peeled off and just said “Get it…” and she had to have assumed that something was going wrong. I stopped to get my heart rate back down and take in some more water. I tend to get pretty dehydrated pretty quickly and always carry a handheld bottle with me. We weren’t even to 5 miles yet and the bottle was dry. No bueno. At this moment, I knew the rest of the race was going to suck and I truly needed to embrace it to the best of my ability.
I took more walk breaks than I had planned and was getting really frustrated with myself, but kept looking around and realizing that I’m pretty darned lucky to be out on the course. Sure I was getting passed, but I made sure to give everyone a “great job” or “keep it up” as they went passed. Once I got my heart rate back down and felt like I could run again, I would. I was trying to smile and give high fives to people that were out spectating. I was looking at my watch and just telling myself that it was perfectly fine to suffer during the event. That’s what we’re there for. Running is a thing that brings me great joy, it’s also a thing that brings me great suffering….and I love it.
We, as a society, get really caught up in being comfortable and find it difficult to embrace the things that make us uncomfortable. When you are in the middle of that training run or race, look around you and realize that there are a lot of people who would LOVE to be in your position right now. Chronic illness, injury, or mental/emotional things can keep people from being able to do these things…that we pay for…and we need to embrace those super sucky moments. The heat of the morning took out a lot of really great runners. I saw people finish 10-30 minutes slower than what their goal time was but the thing I kept coming back to was the fact that they did it. They worked through the heat and humidity and knocked it out of the park.10 miles on foot is difficult, but they made it happen.
At the end of the day, I finished…even “racing” someone in the last 200 meters…and set a new personal best..pretty significantly… I’ve never run a 10 mile race before, but I needed that confidence in the remaining weeks leading up to the marathon. Sure, it wasn’t the result I was hoping for, but I was able to push through those really crappy moments and cross that finish line with a smile.
I hope the last couple of weeks training is going well for you. It’s going to cool down at some point…hopefully… 😉
Stay Strong, Run Long