The race went well.
But, man, I’ve been struggling with that whole “run your own race” concept.
I read a lot of blogs by female runners now. I read them for inspiration. I read them for information. I read them for encouragement, for product reviews, for tips and tricks and advice. I read running blogs by the big bloggers and small bloggers alike. Each of these blogs teaches me something about myself, about running, about health, about life. I have learned so much since I started actively seeking out running blogs this past fall.
I have also learned that I am not the fastest runner.
It’s kind of a bummer at times.
I’ll be running along, happy as a running clam, and a time check-in will sound on my Runkeeper app. Hearing my average pace and my current pace often makes me sad. Especially on, say, mile 10.5 of an 11 mile run. While I could easily turn off the pace check-ins, they are important to me right now as this return to running has been a learning process for me. My body, after that back injury in 2010, feels new and different. I am not quite in a place where I want to give up information about pace. I don’t yet trust my body to hit and stay at my preferred speed — either too fast or too slow.
And so, the app tells me my pace, and for a moment I think, “Woo! Right where I wanted to be today. Look at me go!” And then I’ll have a flash of a recent post or tweet by a much-faster-runner and my face falls. I then begin talking to myself. (I talk to myself a lot on runs, so if you see me run by and my lips are moving, just smile and nod. Maybe wave. Holding up signs is also acceptable.) I repeat, “Run your own race. RUN your OWN race. Run YOUR own RACE. RUN YOUR OWN RACE!” And then I get all Baz Luhrmann and deep and emo-before-emo-was-a-thing and repeat, “The race is long. And in the end, it’s only with yourself.” Then I remember that I forgot to put on sunscreen. And then for a little bit I get lost in memories from 1999 and eventually wind up back at, “Man, I was so much more fit and ran so much faster in 1999.” Then I sigh and go back to chanting, “Run your own race, Jenna! RUN YOUR OWN RACE IN 2013!”
This whole process has been hard. Which, I mean, obviously. If running a half marathon was easy, everyone would do it. Like getting tattoos. Or something. Running longer distances may feel easier now than it used to, but any time I do a speed workout, I feel like I’m going to die or going to fall over or pass out or cry or just plain old quit. Great running friends have reassured me that speed will come in time, but I get all, “I don’t have time for “in time.” I want it now!” Something about our present day culture and immediate gratification belongs here, but I’m stuck with the fact that I am slower than I want to be. I will finish my first half marathon, I have no doubt. Finishing my first 11 mile run this past weekend feeling downright giddy showed me that, but it will be a slow finish.
And that’s okay. This is my own race.
I am forced to put my perfectionist personality aside and focus on running this race with and against myself. It’s good for me; to focus on just running the best race I can at any given time on any given run forces me to look at other areas of my life. Comparing myself to others on any number of topics isn’t fair to myself or others. Weight loss, career success, writing, fashion, oh my goodness all of my gray hair, our kitchen, and, you know, parenting. Letting go of the comparison and just letting myself be in the moment, running the best race I can or writing the best piece I can or being the best mom I can is remarkably freeing. I struggle with it, but I’m getting there.