The World Through My Shoes is my look at living this incredible gift God has given us. As a busy wife, mother and daughter I relish the alone time I receive on my early morning runs. It is in the stillness of those predawn mornings where I often am inspired. Thank you for taking the time to read my words.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Me? Speed?

Speed. I don’t have it. I want it. Somewhere in the midst of my distance running I lost my desire for going faster. Training for a marathon changes the perspective of a runner. Well, it did for me anyway. No longer did I think about how fast I was running my normal 4 mile loop, but where I was in relation to my long run that week. Everything became justifiable to the long run.

“Oh, I have to take it easy today because this is my first run after my long run this weekend.”

“I can’t push it too hard today because I have my 18 miler in a couple days and I need to go the distance”.

“I think I need to figure out what my “easy pace” is…nope, don’t have a clue what that is, so I’ll just take it nice and slow so I can run good this weekend”.

Somewhere along the line I realized I stopped believing in my ability to have both. I excused myself right smack into the middle of slug-dom. And each marathon I ran left a big slimey trail of self disrespect. If you would have happened to be behind me that day, September 13, 2009, you would have found a marathon course peppered with my words of “I can’t do this”, “This weather has sucked the life right out of me”, “oh well, another lack-luster marathon” spewing from my mind.

The negative self-talk and blatant disrespect for myself and the training I had put in had to stop but what was it going to take?

Two weeks after that horrible marathon where I ended up walking more than I had ever wanted to, I found myself standing on the start line of another race. My sister had signed up for her very first half marathon and to support her through this tremendous decision, I too had signed up for the race. I expected a sense of dread after my horrible marathon just two weeks previous. What I didn’t expect was my excitement to be toeing a starting line again. At the prospect of having to run 13.1 miles instead of 26.2 miles gave me an incredible let’s-just-have-fun-with-this attitude. For the first time in a year and a half I was excited to run a race.

The excitement showed up in my pace. I had run the fastest I’d run in a long, long time. When I crossed the finish line in under 2 hours I was ecstatic. Though my final time of 1:59:58 was nowhere near my personal best of 1:52:43, it was the strongest race I’d run in almost 2 years. And the difference was my attitude.

The winter had proven to be a mild one allowing me to run through the darkest and coldest months. My weekend runs were 10 to 12 miles long consistently. In the spring I signed up to run a local 15k. As this distance was shorter than the long runs I was currently turning out, I felt a great sense of ease going into this race. Imagine my complete surprise when I crossed the finish line as 3rd in my age group! What??? ME??!?!?

An amazing thing happened after that, the negative self talk began to quiet. The results of some hard strong running I’d done was beginning to show. For the first time in my adult life I realized I wasn’t just a runner. No, I was becoming more than that. With my simple, yellow, cheesy “third in age group” ribbon, (which hangs proudly on my wall by the way), I felt like – could it be?- an athlete.

So here I sit a few weeks later and one of the newest members of a local running group. We are an eclectic bunch of people from all backgrounds of life. No matter what happens during the day, when we get together we are all runners in running shoes striving for one thing – to get faster. Some of us have the speed required to qualify for the Boston Marathon and other have the speed to break a sub-4 hour marathon. The current speed we each come to training runs with really doesn’t matter. We all recognize and respect the blood, sweat and tears we each are pouring into our training and that transcends pace.

Week one of training is behind us. Tomorrow we will leave our jobs to come together at the track of the college in town. We will laugh, we will run, we will train. And together we will become faster.