I’m taking an extra day off today.
It’s sunny, calm, and Monday morning is happening without me. I love it.
Three of the five browser windows on my iPhone all show weather. I don’t even look at them now — yesterday is done. I was scouring and updating weather on three different locations around the 10k race route that I ran yesterday. How cold would it be at the start? How much wind would be coming off the water as the race course follows the ocean’s edge? How cold was it at home compared to the start location?
I ran another 10k race yesterday. I often want to do well out of fear: fear of not being good enough, to have nothing to “show” for all my training, fear of comparing myself to others and not being as good, fear that all the time, effort, and energy others spend on me makes no difference.
My last two weeks of training have gone really well. I felt more relaxed. I ran smoother and easier. I hurt more. I pushed myself.
I overcame some mental hurdles. I let myself feel more – I accepted that things could be better.
Standing in the corral waiting for the countdown to start, we had a minute of silence for Boston and the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. There are people affected by this tragedy who will never run again. When we wrap ourselves in our focus so tightly we lose perspective. I often revert to trying to control everything as my mechanism for coping. I think it works, but it doesn’t and it’s tiring. Being able to let go of that rigidity gives me more space to breathe, to appreciate, and more energy.
I run because I enjoy it. I like the physical activity, I love the community, and I want to get better at it. Races are a focal point and a goal to aim towards. They are a point of motivation when I just don’t want to run. I also generally dread them.
I first ran this race in 2008 with zero experience or expectation. Since then I have never run the course faster. I’ve been close, but never faster. I’ve trained and been determined but each time I get to the start line it’s like I am trying to force something so that I am better.
Yesterday I ran again. I could see my coach and friends on the sidelines cheering. I wanted to stop but I wanted to finish more. I wanted to give myself the opportunity to succeed without expectations.
As we were lining up someone asked me how fast I expected to run the course. I said I wanted to run how my body felt and that I had no expectations. I knew I was ready, I just had to go and run MY race.
My result was almost 2 min faster than my original time from 2008. It actually took a few hours for this to sink in. I read my watch time wrong – by a whole minute. I assumed that people who came in after me were still faster than me. When I saw the results I was looking at gun time vs chip time. I was shocked and elated.
My husband was not surprised. He has been with me through the fear, my constant running, my determination and pain, and my compulsive need to keep going. He has heard me worry for 5 years. He said that he always knew I had it in me, I just took a long way around to getting there.
Yesterday, I watched a TedTalk about vulnerability. What really resonated with me is that when we withdraw from situations and refuse to be vulnerable, we make ourselves numb. We numb our emotions to control how we feel and react. But the poignant part was when we numb out feeling worthless, or shame, or sadness, or not-good-enough, we numb out all other feelings as well. We do not experience joy or gratitude or pleasure or happiness. We live in a small grey box of feelings that cannot express how we feel and we are never really sure what is wrong or what to do.
For me, that grey box grew yesterday because I was willing to allow and accept. It took me a long time to get to this pretty basic point. But for me it’s that feeling of acceptance that leaves me with more elation than the time on the clock when I cross the finish line.
I was willing to accept that I had worked hard, and done well, and was supported. I was willing to accept that whatever showed up on the clock was the time it took me to run 10k and nothing more. This race may have started 5 years ago for me, but today I get to feel the joy of all that effort.