First, thank you all for your beautiful words of encouragement, support, and in several cases, ‘getting’ why yesterday’s half marathon felt like a failure to me.
What I realize after yesterday’s half marathon is this: I am a RUNNER, not a RACER.
The racing element to running is just simply not for me. I don’t need to run half marathons to prove that I can do it. I can run 13.1 miles to prove that I can run 13.1 miles, without the pomp and circumstance of an actual race.
I did this half marathon because I told myself (and you!) that I would.
So I did.
And I finished.
But this is the last race I will likely ever do.
Because while training for this race eventually became what I wanted it to be…testing myself in increasing my mileage, kicking my running struggles to the curb, learning to breathe and *not* think about it, and finally enjoying running again, it felt more like work, and less like fun.
And I never want to hate running. Because I don’t.
I never want to feel anxiety over a pending ‘deadline’ of a race. I never want to feel nervous about being the last runner into the gate. It’s not me. I am a self-professed slow(er) runner and I will never be in the ranks of 7-8 minute miler and that’s okay. I run for me, I run to spend time with M, and in a way, as the beautiful Melissa put it in her absolutely astoundingly inspiring post (please read it!), I want to impress myself. I am not afraid to admit that.
What I am
almost afraid to admit is this: I don’t think I ran this race so much for me as I did it because ‘I said I would’ and because well, my sister ran it too (and killed it! check out her day two recap with pictures!) and we do everything together. But as another bloggy friend pointed out to me separately, (and as Jess actually put it in her post I linked to above), just because she does it, doesn’t mean I have to, too. This may be the very first time we have not done the same thing workout/challenge wise. And while I thought I would hate that, it is easier to swallow than I thought.
Because she thrives in the racing atmosphere. I do not.
I am a RUNNER, not a RACER.
And I am content with that. I look back at the two half marathons, multiple 5Ks and 5-miler races I have done and not one of them has ever been a good race for me, a good experience, one that I ended with a runner’s high. No, they always had some element of anxiety, stress, side cramps or panic that I never really put two and two together on before. Sure, I could keep trying to ‘fix’ my anxiety when it comes to the race element, but for what? What drives me to run is me, and what drives me to race is well…I don’t know that I have a proper answer to that. It used to be a ‘running group’ I joined with a few local runners/friends when I first started going through divorce, as a way to get me out and about and trying new things. But that group has long since dissipated. I don’t need to race. I need to run. For me.
I may go with the ‘never say never’ mantra because you never know…but for now, for me, I am a runner. Not a racer.
To be continued tomorrow on how I plan to keep challenging myself with my running…I have a bit of a challenge up my sleeve that I am excited to face.