4 years ago I trained with TEAM in Training to compete in the Anchorage, Alaska marathon. It was one of the best experiences of my life, but I’m not sure it’s something I want to repeat any time soon. Since then I’ve competed in 5 half marathons. I’m not a racer, I actually enjoy training more. When I sign up for races, I wonder “why in the world did I sign up for this?” But last year I didn’t sign up, and Matt and I passed a bunch of the runners and I thought, “why didn’t I sign up? I’m missing out on the race!” I can’t win.
My normal thought process goes like this: The day before the race I begin to wonder why in the world I decided to sign up. At 5AM on the day of the race, I wonder if I should just sleep in and miss the race. I finally show up and drag myself to the start line (after using the port-a-potties at least twice). At mile 5 I really start to wonder what I was thinking. After mile 8 I wish I could take everything back. When I finally cross the finish line I usually think “Phew, done. Totally worth it.” Well, except yesterday. Yesterday’s Naples Daily News Half Marathon was tougher than most. My back hasn’t fully healed from my car accident so it started cramping up soon into the run. I didn’t train for the race – just a few long runs. I was on my feet the entire day before. It was a recipe for disaster.
But I’m glad I did it. I’m glad I raced. I’m glad I put myself in that position at least once a year. I think it’s good for all of us to challenge ourselves in a way that forces us to grow a little. For me, that’s doing things that don’t come natural to me. Calling someone I don’t know on the phone. Running for 2 hours at a pace I can’t keep for 20 minutes. Raising over $4000 for a cause I believe in. Traveling too long to run too far to get too lost while I’m way too sore in the middle of Denali National Park. But all of these things that I force myself to do help me to branch out and grow. I get a little more determined. I learn to do something that causes great physical and mental anguish. I tell myslef “dont’ ever do that again” and yet I know I will. Because ultimately I come out a better person. I just hate the process.