As a Pisces, I am supposed to like water. I live on a lake. I enjoy swimming, long hot showers, and taking strolls along riverside beds. But, running in the rain? Not so much. But weather is not to blame for my latest and most lackluster race ever.
I’ll be frank. This wasn’t my best performance. Whistlestop 2012 will go down as the little engine that could… but almost didn’t. I could give you a host of excuses: inconsistent training and a nasty cold winding down as I lined up for the race, topping that list. But, when the rubber hit the road, I was my worse enemy.
The day started with my alarm going off and me not wanting to get out of bed. This was odd for me, given my first two races resulted in me being so excited I could barely sleep. The forecast of cooler temps and rain was a total turn-off. This paired with a runner who didn’t feel good and knew in her heart, she hadn’t trained as much as she’d hope.
By the time we parked at the start, I was feeling worse. I didn’t want to get out of the car. I eventually did, only to head to the porta-potty. It turns out, this was yet another mistake. Standing in line with less than 10-minutes to start, I felt my heart sink. Surrounded by a sea of performance gear, athletic buffs brought out my worse insecurities. My head started spinning with self-doubt. I didn’t train hard enough. I didn’t lose that 10-pounds. I didn’t stretch, get enough sleep, eat right, do enough core strengthening… by the time the Star Spangled Banner was playing, I was ready to quit.
I lined up in back and made small talk with some walkers. We joked a bit. The race started. I waved to my husband as the herd moved toward the start line. But, when my official race clock started, I checked out. And, the three mile pity party began.
I had no energy. No desire. I was cold. Tired. I knew I was going to finish at the bottom of the pack… again. And, in that moment, it just didn’t seem worth it. By mile 3, I was setting a pace of nearly 4 minutes per mile SLOWER than last year. It was time to quit. Nobody would care. I was sick. I had a hundred excuses to not finish this race. It’d be fine. I picked up my phone to call Steve as more walkers flooded past me. But I couldn’t do it.
I’m not sure why but that stubborn Fin in me reared her ugly head. I had put myself in this predicament and the Erickson in me decided I needed to get myself out. The only way to do that was to finish. Maybe I’d come in dead last. But, at least I’d finish.
It was that simple. Despite race rules, I cranked up the volume on my I-Tunes. And, I started putting one foot in front of the other. I quit caring about everything I hadn’t done right and instead moved. Guess what? It worked. It turns out while I hadn’t trained perfectly, I had trained. By mile 6, I was wet, cold and miserable but I was moving. I was hitting my times and undoing some of the damage during my pity party. As I got closer to the finish, my speed increased.
At mile 10 I was hopeful I’d somehow hit the goal I had set but my body was telling me different. I had made up time but not that much. I was running out of juice and the time space continuum didn’t allow for pity parties. But I kept pushing. I pushed hard enough that some folks inadvertently mistook me as a lead full-marathoner. If only they knew. I corrected them as I jogged on by, just hoping to shave a few more seconds off my time.
As I rounded that final corner, the few folks braving the wet weather cheered me on. To them, I was just another faceless runner crossing the finish line. But for me, that line represented something else. I never have been and never will allow myself to be a quitter. The rest is just details
The stats: I finished at 3:23 or 1,395 out of 1,474, missing my goal by 13 minutes. I didn’t set a PR, but I shaved 12-minutes off my time from last year’s race.