I set my alarm to get up and run before church, but it was another early morning failure. It didn't matter, because everyone woke up late. Once I got up, I had breakfast, but I didn't actually get out of the house. I did not start running until after 10AM, so I was really hungry on the run. The route I chose had lots of hills. I thought that I would pick up the pace a little, but that didn't happen. It was truly a long, slow run (17 miles @ 9:25). It was pretty enjoyable for maybe the first ten miles. Then, it turned into work. The last 3 miles were difficult.
I have been thinking a great deal lately about why I run, and what will it take to keep me running in ten years. Competition is what has driven me up to this point, but I know that it won’t be enough to motivate me running for a lifetime. I ran my first 5K at the age of 39. My story is not unlike many women. After I had kids, I stopped working out, but when my kids got a little older, I started to take better care of myself. Working out gradually led to jogging, which eventually led to me running my first 5K. I was hooked with that first race. I had never done anything competitive before. I didn’t know a single girl, before I entered high school, that participated in any organized sport. Approaching middle age, I knew that I loved the outdoors and that there were periods in my life when I loved to workout, but I had never actually experienced the thrill of competition.
I found out that the thrill of competition wasn’t figurative. It is an actual thrill. I started taking training more seriously, and I did well. I ran 5ks thru half marathons for a few years. Below is a picture of my first half marathon. I'm pretty sure that I am wearing a skirt sports running skirt. I just gave that skirt away a few months ago, because it was too big.
|Half Marathon, Santa Barbara 2010|
I told myself that I would run a marathon if I ever ran 1500 miles in a year. I got close, but in 2015, I ran 1500 miles, so I felt like I was ready to take on a marathon. That first marathon was the best race of my life. I had put so much into the training, and I had no expectations of myself. It was the first time that I ever felt that I had already achieved my goal before I even started. I was happy and chatty for almost the entire race. It got miserable around mile 20, but I think that is the nature of a marathon. I truly loved that experience. I love to compete, but I loved running for the joy of the experience.
For me it is difficult to put down the burden of expectation. I get closest during some trail races. There is often a time during a trail race when you know that you aren’t lost, and you are running completely alone. I love those moments. The expectations melt away, and I am just happy. Frankly, most of the time, I’m running for time, competing against myself or someone else and seeking AG awards. I enjoy competition, but that just isn’t going to cut it in long run. It is going to be the joy that keeps me doing this over the long term. I’m not really there yet, but I’ve had a taste of what it can be like and that is my goal.