If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. – Marcus Garvey
So yesterday, we parted just as the race got underway…I know, what a cheap way to build suspense! But if you are back, that means it worked, so there! Let’s pick up the action, shall we?
Having made the decision to run barefoot, it took me a few minutes of playing Goldilocks to pick which part of the sand to run on – I could choose the loose, fluffy stuff high on the beach (This one is too soft!); the medium packed, freshly raked area where umbrellas and chairs get set up (This one is too bumpy!); or right at water’s edge, dodging the surf as waves broke and ebbed (This one is just right!) I found that the firm, flat. moist sand has just the right amount of resilience, and the occasional wave cools off the feet very nicely!
The late start meant the sun was blazing away on us, which is no small thing when you are talking about South Texas. Very quickly it became apparent that wearing a FuelBelt was another smart choice; we had been promised water stations every two miles, but the shortage of volunteers meant we did not see the first relief until the 5K mark…a very ominous sign for all the runners heading up the sand empty-handed. They also had ONLY water, no electrolyte replenishment…which meant that having my belt full of Nuun lemon-lime was another great decision! (So much of racing is mental; lessons learned during training are wasted unless we carry that knowledge with us!)
I reached the half-way turn-around feeling strong, but I still took a minute to fuel up and drink plenty of water. I picked up that gel from the expo, on the “leftovers” table; it was really tasty and easy on the stomach…too bad I didn’t think to pay attention to the brand 😦 I was starting to get excited by the fact that I had not seen very many runners heading back the other way…surely I couldn’t be among the leaders? I did see quite a few runners looking awfully dehydrated on the way to the midpoint, having been three miles without a drink. I actually gave away two of my bottles of Nuun to folks looking pretty rough. (They were both kind enough to give them back at the lunch during the awards ceremony.)
About the ten-mile mark, it finally happened…my ankles, both sides, really began complaining; those tendons have taken quite a beating the last few weeks. I’m pretty sure that soreness comes from ramping my mileage so quickly – I went from 12 miles per week to 25, within 30 days, which of course is totally against all the advice I read – but I
lived through loved every step of every one of those miles! Like everything else, though, love comes with a price…in my case, it’s a glass ceiling at 10 miles. Here was that choice-point I wrote about yesterday – should I push ahead, suck up the pain in pursuit of a goal; or should I accept my current limits, avoid the risk of injury, and ease up, live to fight another day? What would a real runner do?
That thought passed by, and I was shocked by it…”real runner”? I AM a real runner, right? So that means I HAVE the answer to that question: a real runner would do listen to what his body is telling him, compare that to his experience in other races and in training, and make the right decision…and I did! I stopped, went down into the cool water, stretched a few times, walked about a 1/4 mile, and eased back into a steady run – I decided that finishing strong was better than failing fast, and so I took care of myself. Once I got moving again, I still felt the twinges, but soon the sound of the wind in my ears and the roar of the waves did their magic again, and I lost myself in the magic of the run…because that is what real runners do. I quit listening to my tracking, in fact turned off the sound, and I just ran…and before you know it, there was the finish line, and the clock…and I found I had a sprint left in me after all! The Final Result:
So I have a new shirt for my small-but-growing collection of race shirts, my first race medal, and a new PR that I can be proud of…all in all, a fine outcome, I’d say! I also have a new set of goals, a new direction to explore in training…and a Marathon lottery to register for this weekend! I hope to get in, I’m also signing up for the ABB 5K that runs on Saturday, before Sunday’s Marathon and Half-Marathon…if I get in and finish both, there is a special third medal for the double-up, and now I really want one! I also have my eye on some other races – an 8K in San Antonio in September, benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project; the Houston Half, in October; the Jailbreak mud run, also in October – you know, the one I want to turn into a running blogger meet-up/charity event? I’d love to hear in the comments about your experiences organizing and/or participating in benefit races…I have
almost no clue about how to do this!) The biggest thing is to not lose momentum; earlier today I commented that I will not get enamored of this success, and get “off stride”, but I will look at it instead as a new base to stand upon, as I reach even higher – because that is also what real runners do!