|Me and my new-running-friend Roger.|
You see he does exist!
Today, I ran a 10K race with little -okay, closer to no- training; testing my limits and giving the proverbial finger to life and everything she wants to dish out at me.
I wrote yesterday, that prepping for the race, felt like a marker in life; a hint that today, I would learn something about myself, my running and about the community I live in. I did.
I had no expectations on this race. I just wanted to finish. I am so glad that this was my only goal. I think if I was concentrating on getting a PB and not enjoying the ride, I would have missed out on so much.
The race started -as they usually do- with the hares at the front and the tortoises at the back. I placed myself in the mid-pack, knowing that really thats not where I should be. This was the start of my life re-education:
Lesson #1 - life is fast. Control and determination is not about pushing every limit, but learning which boundaries to test.
As I started in the mid-pack, I became more contented as I let the hares pass me by and to run the race at a pace I knew would allow me to finish. Just because I wasn't running a 8:30 mile, didn't mean I wasn't determined, but that I had the courage to back off and run and live life at the pace that meant I got the job done.
Lesson #2 - Your life is an on-going series of personal connections. Embrace them all, but accept that not all of them will develop. As I started the run, I used a few people as involuntary and unknowing pacers. I needed to keep myself grounded, and I needed to keep myself slow. I always feel guilty about using the person in front of me as an unknowing pacer; I know how irritating it can be to hear footsteps on your heel whilst you silently wish, "just overtake me already". So, I would always say 'Hi' to the person and apologise to them about what I was inadvertently doing. Today, these burgeoning interactions didn't create any connections. Meh, maybe next time.
Lesson #3 - As you flail, life throws you a line. Roger, what can I say about you? Thank you is not enough. As I was doubting why I was running this race, Roger comes along and makes a comment about my awesome INB (InkNBurn to all you -soon to be hip- uneducated kids out there) calf sleeves. A simple comment, changed a race I wanted to forget, to a race I really enjoyed and learnt from. It is safe to say, without Roger, I am not sure if and how I would ended my race today.
Lesson #4 - The most interesting people are those pushing their limits. Yep, Roger, it's back to you Mate. I commented to Roger, that the reason I run races are to share them, not with the hares who run forty-minute 10K's once a week, but to share it with those who were pushing their own boundaries. I stand by that comment. Roger -I found out- usually runs a 5K once a week, but on Tuesday was offered a bib from a friend who was injured. He has only run three 10K's and his longest run is a seven-miler. He was taking on a challenge he hadn't planned and he was pushing his boundaries. The most inspiring people are those who take on life -and instead of winning or running better than X,Y,Z- are there just to see what they can do.
Lesson #5 - An goal shared is a goal achieved. It is believed that -in the end- running is a solitary sport. Wrong. Running is about taking your goals, your limits and your personal achievements and sharing them. Today, my goal was to run a 10K, my limit was to battle a broken body and my personal achievements were all the races I had run before. I shared all of these with the people I met today on the course and together we fought all our demons and we revelled in every small success; together we shared and in the end we all achieved.
Lesson #6 - Slowing down to help each other is not a sign of failure. There are many runners out there who's aim is to get to the end in a certain time; to be better, quicker, faster, stronger. Wrong - so, so wrong. As I ran today, there were a few times I slowed right down. Sometimes I had to do it so I could keep going, but sometimes I did it because I knew someone else needed to take a breather, so they could keep going. It could have been someone who was using me as one of those involuntary pacers. It could be a new-found friend who was having an issue with a section of the course. My goal was to run all of the race, but then as I walked with someone -thereby failing in one of my aims- I realised that this was not a failure. This is what racing should be, and now as I had failed in a goal, I came to remember, that this was the real reason I run.
Lesson #7 - Laugher is always the best medicine. At the end, my friends' partner mentioned I was too enthusiastic in my non-running exploits. High-fiving the kids as I passed, or making a comment to a volunteer. I did probably spend more energy being a goof than I should have done, but then I would not of finished if I had toned it down. All of those over-the-top-goofball-theatrics were the reason I kept going. Just to make someone smile, made me smile and I would not have reached that finish without it.
Lesson #8 - The only i in team is the hole in the 'A'. Okay, that made no sense unless you have seen the meme on the internet. Write the word 'TEAM' in that old-fashioned 'Tetris' block type writing you used to do as a kid, and then you will find the letter 'i' in the middle of the letter 'A'. Anyway, I am digressing a little. The point is, you may be running the race, but you would not be there if it wasn't for everyone else out there. You may get your PB and pat yourself on the back, but think: Did you thank ALL of those volunteers who got up before you and then stood there in the cold, wind and rain and directed you onto the path of personal victory? Did you thank those people who unwittingly got you to that PB as you used them as pacers then raced past them? When you were low, did you thank the stranger who spurred you on? Did you thank all of your running buddies who trained with you two-three-four-more times a week and told you could do it? If you didn't then you are the 'i' in the 'A'-hole. Get on FaceBook, Twitter, whatever and do it now. Without them, you couldn't brag about the shiny new medal and that glow of your new PB. (So, just to make sure I have covered everyone, here goes: Thank you to: All of the organisers and volunteers out there today; Everyone who helped me and didn't know it -I wish I had some of your names; To Roger, who got me to the end; To my friends, who sent me luck; To Nikki, who got me to the start; To Nikki's family who brightened my day; and to my Family. Thank you for being there at the end. So Am I covered now? Is that medal all mine now? *grin*)
Lesson #9 - Everyone is pushing their limits. Today a Canadian Facebook friend of mine, reminded my in his post that this weekend is 'Terry Fox Run' weekend. I am not sure if there is anyone outside of Canucksville who will know who Terry Fox is. He is a Canadian legend. At the age of 22, after having his leg amputated due to cancer, he embarked on a run across Canada to enlighten others to the struggle of those battling Cancer and raise funds at the time. His goal was to run a marathon a day and to show that disability was not a hinderance. He died of cancer before he could reach his target, but that does not mean he didn't push his -and everyone who watched him-boundaries. Every year around the third weekend of September, people run in his name and raise funds for Cancer research. His legacy and reminder is still poignant thirty-plus years later. Everyone is pushing their limits. You may not know it, or even understand it, but everyone you meet has their battles to fight. Respect that.
So, did I learn something today in my race? You betcha! Was this race a 'life-marker'? Hell, yeah. Was I reminded why I race? Definitely. Would I do it again? Probably, but ask me when I have sobered up - that medicinal alcohol is bound to wear off soon.