Monday, May 31, 2010

Struggling; Acceptance

We lined up for the Bolder/Boulder, and I savored the anticipation of the gun going off. I was ready, and I knew it.
Oh, it was going to be a tough race. It always is. It's one of the tougher 10Ks in the state, if not the country, and it was already warm, despite the 7 a.m. start.
But I love this race. It's the largest 10K in the country. It's a race that sparked my running, and this was my sixth. I could call myself a veteran. I knew the course. I was excited to run fast, and I was in a fast wave, the fifth-fastest, so I was with some damn good runners, most of them, I have to admit, better than me. I was probably really suited for a couple waves back. But that's not what you want to think about right before a race.
I told people it may not work out. That I may bomb out. That I may not be ready to run a tough race not even three weeks after a marathon. But I didn't believe it. I never do. I'm terrific at handing out advice about rest and tapering and accepting the fact that racing so close after a tough, long race may not work. I'm terrible at accepting that advice on my own.
So the gun went off, and sure enough, I was feeling good. I ran the first mile in 7:22, and I thought that was smart. I thought I was fine.
I started feeling it by mile 2. The troll was already at work. Slow down. Walk. It's OK. I still hit the mat at 15 minutes, and I thought a PR was possible.
That's when the bottom dropped. More realistically, that's when the hills began to wear on me.
The BB is a tough course, with hills, hills and more hills. They're gradual, but they're also constant, and I've yet to find a good way to tackle them.
Let's make it short. I ran 8:25 for the third mile, somehow managed to hit 8:20 on the fourth, but then I puked, and mile 5 was 8:45 or so, or the pace I ran the first 20 miles of my marathon.
I crossed the finish in 50 minutes, my worst time in four years.
My friends, who are all experienced runners (and all of whom turned out their usual great times), told me that it was too soon. This was, to be honest, the first week where I even remotely felt myself, and even last Monday that wasn't true. I'm still surprised how long it's really taking to recover from the marathon. As I said, I'm great at dishing out advice and not so good at accepting it for myself.
But there's another form of acceptance, and it's one I may have to face soon.
I'm just not an elite runner. I am not my friends. Not even close.
My running partner finished 9th in her age group, which is amazing, considering there are 50,000 runners. Another who met us at the start finished 15th, and she's 31. I have friends who have done Ironmans, qualified for the Boston Marathon (no small feat) and ran 100 miles in a race.
Me? Well, I guess when you compare me to the average person, I'm good, and the average runner, I"m not bad. But I have to admit something. I am famous for climbing mountains even when I'm not feeling my best. That's something I can do. I've done it hundreds of times, and that's how I finished all of Colorado's 54 14ers (I'm only one of 1,500 to do that). But I'm not an athlete. Not really. I feel like today, with more guts, and more oomph, I could get past the marathon blues and turn out a good time. I didn't do that. I can't do that.
I may just have to accept the fact that I'm not in their class. It should be fairly easy for me to accept. I never was an athlete. I played in the band in high school and in college. It's only recently that I transformed myself. And yet I put in the work, and I'm seeing mediocre results, at least compared to my friends.
Should I accept that? I'll know in a few weeks. That's when the marathon becomes a memory. And no longer an excuse.


Memphis MOJO said...

my worst time in four years.

Is time the only way to measure if your run has been successful?

kurokitty said...

Agreed with Mojo -- it's good to finish and you just ran a marathon recently!

kurokitty said...

Also- I think the Boulder is the 2nd largest? From their own PR materials...

The DICK’S Sporting Goods BolderBOULDER 10K, a Running USA Founding
Member, is the 2nd largest running race in the USA and the 3rd largest in the world

Atlanta's Peachtree 10K claims to be the largest, but I have no way of knowing for sure...

The AJC Peachtree Road Race is the largest running event in the United
States with 55,000 participants.

Alan aka RecessRampage said...

Oh shit, kuro talking shit over 10k cred! :)

Ok, first off, of all people, I didn't think time mattered as much to you. I mean I know it's one of the measuring sticks but I've always read your posts and I thought here's a guy who runs with a purpose beyond time. For me, time would be the only thing that matters... but that's because I don't enjoy running. I don't appreciate the stuff that you do during a run (like presence of others, sunrise, smell of grass, etc etc).

But if time matters, dude, snap out of it. My bball coach always used to say "stop feeling sorry for yourself and get back on D" after we miss a shot or get blocked, etc. How does that relate to running? Dude, I'm not even gonna pretend to know what running a marathon is like but I do know it's a big deal... not the training and the lifestyle change but running that much distance in and of itself really does damage to your body. It's also your first one so you probably don't know what's best for your body's recovery. I mean everyone has different shit that works for them individually.

Stop worrying about the other runners. Use them as motivation which it seems like you are doing... but don't let what seems daunting to you (the other elite runners) get you down. Though I can't relate, I'll use this analogy anyways.... it's like climbing one of your most intimidating mountains. Before the climb, you had to have had mountains where you were like oh shit... but then you tackle it and you concur it. Same thing with elite runners. Even if you feel that the talent dept may not be at the elite level, you can make a lot of that up by being tough mentally and training harder. Believe me, this I know. I ran track in college and though I was semi talented, I was not a D1 college athlete talent... but I had a lot of guts, determination and worked out much harder than everyone else on the team. That was good enough to make me captain AND be the fastest 400m runner on the team... that's not saying much considering we weren't a top notch program but still, I was competitive... considering my talent level, that's all I can ask for.

I'm playing poker and writing this comment so I'm all over the place.

To summarize, I love your blog, get your chin up, and you'll do fine. Happy recoveries!