Monday, December 5, 2011

Just Chalk It Up and Move On

I ran an awful half-marathon Saturday. Let me back up: I ran my best-ever half-marathon two weeks ago. So I'm trying to figure out what went right the first time and what went wrong Saturday.

I think it all comes down to having a plan, sticking to it if possible, and having a back-up plan/goal. In my positive race, I had a target pace, stuck to it for the first half of the race, then realized I had enough in me to kick it up a little. I finished strong, well under my target time. In my second race, I guess I felt a little cocky & wanted to see how much I had in me. I had a strong start, but when the wind picked up, I didn't have enough left in me to maintain it. Then I was disappointed that I wasn't going to be as fast as I hoped. Then I thought about giving up -- what was the point of finishing in pain if I wasn't going to set any personal records?

In perspective and in all fairness to myself, Saturday's race was the second fastest half-marathon I have run. Would I have been happy with my performance had I not just run one much faster? Probably. So why am I beating myself up? I don't think in the end that it is about the time on the clock or about where I placed in my age division. I hate where I went emotionally on that run. I was THIS close to flagging down a passing police cruiser and asking for a ride to the finish line. I was THIS close to walking the last couple of miles.

All in all, I learned some lessons from my most recent race. I need to come to the starting line more prepared next time. For one thing, I need to pay closer attention to what I eat before and during a race. I'm certain that poor fueling played a role in my near-meltdown. Second, I need to have back-up goals. There will always be factors out of my control, and I need to prepared to adjust my expectations if something goes awry. Third, I need to appreciate that I can get out there and run at all. A finish line is a finish line.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An Ode to Running

I'm fast approaching my two-year "runniversary" and it is hard to imagine what the past two years would have been like without running. I practiced real estate law in a crummy real estate market. The BP oil spill terrified & damaged my community. Finances are tighter than ever. My children aren't babies anymore. My business went under. In sum, my world has been a scary and challenging place over the past two years. Most of it is completely out of my control, and that is something I have a hard time accepting.

Running helps me maintain my Zen. It's not just the endorphins, although the Runner's High is a very real and very lovely experience. When I run, I am forced to put away the phone and the computer and the kids, and just be. I can focus on things that have been bothering me, and I can gain perspective. Or I can just focus on one foot in front of the other, and forget about my problems for an hour or two while I enjoy the beauty of God's creation.

Running has given me a new sense of identity. Before running, I defined myself as a working mother/wife and an attorney. Being a wife and being a mother are the most beautiful and important roles in my life, but they describe my relationships, not who I am. Being an attorney was a big source of pride for me, but I never fully identified with or enjoyed the career. Something about running just clicks with my soul. It is more than just an activity that I enjoy. And it is something that is all mine.

Running is something I can control. I love sitting down and planning my training schedule, considering all the different schools of thought on training, tracking my target race paces, setting goals. I can get frequent gratification, whether through racing my fastest half-marathon or watching the sunrise on a slow training run.

Almost as an afterthought, running keeps me fit. I may not rock a bikini like I did at age 20, but I am strong and I have a body that is capable of doing things I never dreamed. Running 26.2 miles? Been there, done that, can't wait to do it again!