“Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all about.”
~PattiSue Plumer, U.S. Olympian
It was the day of my first 10k (6.2 miles) and my first road race I ran by myself (several months after my sister and I completed our marathon together, we walked the whole marathon - maybe a story for another day). I was feeling pretty good about my fitness and was excited for this new challenging distance. I reviewed the course map and saw that there was a water station every mile. I decided that I could probably run 6 miles with a short walk break at every water station with a solid .2 mile ‘kick’ to finish it off.
Up until this point the most I had ever run in one stretch was 1 mile, and even that was a challenge. All my training had always been run/walk in short intervals, run 5 minutes/walk 2 minutes, that sort of thing. So I knew this was going to be difficult, but I thought I could do it! My plan was set!
I showed up at the start line ready for the challenge! I was well rested, hydrated, had a small breakfast in my tummy and full of excitement! I lined up towards the back of the pack, and when the starting gun went off I was swept away in the energy of it all! Off I went at my trot of a run. Breath in trot-trot-trot, breath out trot-trot-trot, in trot-trot-trot, out trot-trot-trot. I found my rhythm and was on my way, enjoying the day, the other runners, the energy. I passed the first mile marker - water station must be just ahead. In trot-trot-trot, out trot-trot-trot. Felt good, a bit of a breeze, what a great day! In trot-trot-trot, out trot-trot-trot. And then there it was, mile marker 2 with the water station just beyond! It sure didn’t seem like I had run 2 miles but there it was, clear as day, mile marker 2! How did that happen!?!
I took my walk break at the water station and decided to try run to the next one another two miles out. I did it again! What?!? Who is this person? I ran another mile, feeling strong and decided to take a short walk break so that I would have the energy to pick up the pace in the last mile and really kick it in high gear for the final .2 . I passed a ton of people in that last 1.2 miles. I finished strong! Not stumbling, not at a shuffle of a walk, I was going all out across the finish line and feeling great! I finished that race in 1:22:31 not an amazing time by any means, but it felt amazing to me!
What an amazing feeling!
Running two miles straight really isn’t much, and it’s not as if I had in my mind that ‘once I run two miles straight then I know I am a real runner’. But before this I didn’t even think I could run two miles straight. It didn’t even occur to me to try. I had made my race plan thinking it would be my biggest challenge yet. I thought running the race with short walk breaks every mile would have been an awesome success! I had in my mind what I was capable of, and yet remarkably and unexpectedly that day I just tipped right over that perceived boundary.
Could there be anything better?