the curse OR why run a race
This year I made a commitment to myself, a challenge rather, to run a race every month. 12 races this year. And to run at least one 10K, if not more.
It’s a big challenge, and one I’m gladly accepting (having run 3 of them so far, one when it was raining and cold, one when I was sick and one while it was REALLY cold and snowing.)
So far I’m registered for 2 10Ks, an 8K, a 4 miler and a bunch of 5Ks.
Some of you might wonder what makes race day so different than any other day. I mean, I run 4 or 5 miles every other day, so why should 3.1 miles (a 5K) be any different? ((And my goal is to get to 8 miles, as my long run, so why would 6.2 miles (a 10K) be any different?))
I wonder that too. I wonder how it is that I’m often totally exhausted even 24 hours after crossing the finish line, but on a normal run day I’m often out the next day circuit training, swimming or vinyasa-ing.
I think it’s because, when I’m racing, I’m really pushing myself. My best times have been during races. My biggest achievements (running the whole thing, running up all the hills, beating the old man I started with) have happened during races. For some reason, being in a race helps me push myself beyond my comfort zone. I want to win. Even though I know I won’t, not even in my category (women, 35-44).
((For the record, there is a woman who also runs almost all the same races as me, and she’s 42, and she always wins with amazing times. I hope when I’m 42 I’m half as fast as she is. I would like to meet her, but unfortunately, I never know her bib number until after the race. And I’m certain that she starts way at the front with all the fast people. I’m always blissfully in the back with the dogs and strollers. For now.))
But I race against myself. Remember when I said that? The last time I wrote a blog post… which was almost a year ago? You only compete against yourself. Just like in life.
And with one exception, I’ve beat myself every. single. time.
Knowing that I’ve got a race coming up forces me to lace up my shoes and go for the run, get to the gym, head to the pool or do those extra vinyasas.
I think this is why: there is still a fear in me that I’ll end up embarrassing myself at the race. I’ll be last. I’ll run out of gas. I won’t be fast enough.
I know these things won’t happen. I know I’ll finish, and I won’t be last ((there are always folks walking. I’m at least a little faster than that.))
But there will always be inside me a 15-year-old girl who was ALWAYS last. A chunky spunky teen who laughed at herself as others were laughing at her for not being able to finish running a mile in gym class. The girl who was always picked last for just about anything physical. I was fat, and fat was such a curse then. And, really, it still is. We’ve come a long way with body acceptance in our culture, but I’m certain there is still a girl in gym class, right now, being picked last for something, because her classmates don’t want a slow fatty on their team. There’s an overweight pimply guy somewhere, trying to run the mile, but struggling and trying not to cry while the kids snicker behind his back.
Most of the time we are really trying. At that age puberty hits us like a ton of bricks, and our bodies go all weird and we gain weight. Or we lose it. And we get emotional. And we don’t know how to deal with that emotional crap. So maybe we eat too many cookies or ice cream or chips, because we feel good when we eat, at least temporarily. Or we find solace in TV, movies, video games, YouTube, books, or knitting and crafting. And we don’t have anyone to tell us, “Hey, go outside and go for a walk. You’ll fell better.”
Or maybe, no matter what we do, our bodies still backfire. And our hormones go crazy. And we get frustrated that we can’t get to a comfortable body size. So we give up. And give in. And find solace in ice cream or XBox or a skein.
My fellow former fat teen comrades will most likely agree that we carry that fear with us our whole lives. That fear of humiliation. Of being laughed at. Of being rejected for something we don’t have much control over.
No matter what I do, no matter how skinny I get, I’ll always carry that deep fear, of essentially, rejection.
Maybe that’s why I run. To run away from that fear.
When will I realize that I’m only running from myself?
Hopefully not until I get to 8 miles away. Even though I’m running away from myself, it’s really getting me places.
((I’m always going to be scared of the humiliation of pooping my pants in public. I don’t think anyone is strong enough for that. That’s why you should NEVER laugh at someone who poops their pants in public. NEVER.))