This weekend, I watched one of my fabulous bloggy friends Samantha run a half marathon (Hampton Half Marathon) and despite freezing my bum off, I walked away from the day with a few a-ha moments tucked into the back of my brain.
I fully expected the familiar ‘anxiety’ feelings to arise as I saw runners whizz past me, emulating the feelings that I usually get when it’s me in that flurry of runners. But instead? I started to feel a bit of renewed sense of faith in running (as evidenced also by my guest post on running for me) and even, just maybe, the racing aspect that I tend to
hate dislike so much. Because what I saw was the camaraderie of those cheering their family and friends on, and the glimmers of happiness in the eyes of those runners as they saw their family and friends rooting them on. I was glad to give Samantha a little moral boost, when I finally saw her, and know from personal experience that it really does help to see friendly faces in the crowd.
But beyond that, it was some words of advice I got on Sunday that really resonated with me. I met up with Meaghan - finally – who I’m pretty convinced will become a fast friend (she’s awesome!) – and talking to her about my past struggles with racing (read her recent post here too, that partially recaps the day). On how I pretty much choke on race day (anxiety, breathing trouble, the whole 9 yards), and I asked her how she’s been able to put that pressure out of her mind (given her 10 marathons(!) she’s run!), and she simply said, ” ‘you just do.’ It’s you and 5,000 other runners out there, you can’t let that affect you.”
Simply stated, but so very true.
The only pressure is the pressure I put on myself and 99% of that pressure is completely unnecessary! I know I am not the fastest runner out there, and I am not running to win, I am running to accomplish my personal goal, no matter what time I cross that finish line. This is something that was so hard for me to see when I ran those two half marathons in years past, and I just feel as though I’m gaining so much clarity in what is compelling me to run and bringing me back to the question of…what is my plan? Do I want to attempt another half? Does it even matter? Do I care? And the answer…I think…is yes, I do. Because I clearly keep going back to that question for a reason.
So when Meaghan asked me what my plan was, coincidentally, when it comes to any planned races, I actually had an answer (sort of). While I’m still working out the specifics in my head, and what I want, or don’t want to do, I do know this: I am determined to do a half marathon to see how I actually finish, since the last two that I’ve run, I let the race get to me, and I choked. I finished, but I choked. I have never ran a half marathon (or any race whatsoever, whether that be a 5K, or a 5 miler or whatever) and run it with success. Yet, I have run many a run with success. And I know I can translate that into an actual race day performance. I just need to separate in my head that it’s a race and that it’s a performance. Because for me, it’s neither of those things. For me, it’s just another run (with oh, anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand other runners…). Right?
So my faith in running is certainly back….and maybe, just maybe, so is my faith in conquering a race, and more importantly, conquering my fear of what that means. It’s only a race against myself and nobody else.