To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Confession and Acceptance

Hello, my name is R*nda and I'm a slow runner.
[Hi Slow Runner!]

I'm trying to maturely just accept the fact that I am not fast, nor will I ever be what runners would call fast. I'll never be the girl running in just a sports bra and undies. That one time I got first in my age group, that was AWESOME! Months later I am still in disbelief about it, actually. How on earth did I pull that off? I think I was just lucky. I figure the fast runners stayed home versus going out in the cold, very rainy morning. Seriously, that was a rather miserable race - conditions wise. I suppose trying to out run a girl 10 years younger than me that I naively thought was in the 30-34 group probably helped me to that win. I really did push hard. I mean it wasn't just a piece of cake to win that medal that I so badly coveted.

I haven't run a 5K race since New Year's at midnight. I did pretty good. Had the course not been block with walkers for the first mile I could have possibly gotten 3rd in my age group. But alas, I didn't. Now I'm in a whole new territory, that of the long-distance race. As I train for these half marathons I find myself going through so many emotions. Happy, sad, ecstatic, stressed, satisfied, miserable, telling everybody how great I did, wanting to just cry and quit. I've realized that I put a lot of pressure on myself. My whole life I have always done the best I can do. I was always front row, center during dance class because my teacher knew that everybody always looked to me for the steps. In marching band (seriously, why am I admitting this?) others in my section would always know that I knew the direction to be moving, so they'd follow me. I was often "first chair" of the flute section. I was the lead piano player in the Jazz band. When the percussion section needed help, I was the one back there picking up the slack on the chimes, bells and marimba. Senior year I won my only trophy - first place in the FBLA State Skills competition for my awesome skills on an adding machine. I graduated from high school earning the Business Department award. I unanimously won the "best butt" contest in the hot tub during our band trip to Disneyland in 10th grade. (Woohoo!) I swept the City woman's bowling tournament in college. I kicked ass as a Disney cast member, training many people that went on to be really awesome themselves. I've always excelled at whatever I put my mind to. And then came running.

A former band member, and boyfriend, finished a 10K not even 3 minutes after I got my 5K PR. Our races started at the same time. Another friend recently won a 10K race in Eugene. Biker Boy has been outrunning me since our very first run together, and has to slow himself down to stay at my pace. I have this other friend that recently came to me for "coaching" - ha! As if I know anything other than things I've read in books or things that Lesley drilled into me? He, of course, ignored my advice, ran too long, too fast and tore his Achilles something or other. This was in April. Last weekend, at 42 years old, he ran his first race of any kind with minimal training - a half marathon. He did it in 1:53. That is one hour faster than my first half marathon that I trained over a year for. A coworker of mine, also in his forties, got his BQ in Eugene and is aiming to do it again with a faster time next month because he wasn't fully satisfied with his finish time.

And then there's me. Every time I race I have to go to work and have people ask, "How did you place? Did you win? Did you finish up at the top?" Finally, today, when I was told I should go to the big New York marathon I just had to say, "I'm not fast." 
I idolize one of the greatest runners ever. When I hit .4 miles during my runs I realize he's already gone more than a mile by that point. He was just so awesome. All I can do is strive to be a fraction of the person he was. But at the same time I think I have to not beat myself up when I always come in at the middle of the pack or slower. Sure, I had Meniere's attacks during two big races, but I don't want that to be a reason to be slow. Especially now that I feel like the new meds are working better and I'm taking them before races, I have less reason to struggle.

I just need to keep reading I guess. I need to figure out what all that algebra looking speed work stuff means. I certainly want to improve, I just need to figure out how to do it. I think these last races have REALLY made me mentally stronger, and that's a relief. Running the Eugene Half Marathon was probably the best thing to happen to my running. My confidence increased and I learned that I am tougher than I thought. Plus, I met Pre's sister .... and she hugged me when I cried on her shoulder .... oh, and yeah, she e-mailed me last night. Just had to slide that one in here!

So this is just me babbling. Processing the fact that my best this time isn't THE best. I'm giving it my best, but I want MY best to be better.

* * * * * * * *

“A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more. Nobody is going to win a 5,000 meter race after running an easy 2 miles. Not with me. If I loose forcing the pace all the way, well, at least I can live with myself.” - Steve Prefontaine


  1. Biker BoyMay 10, 2011

    You know...I think that you are awesome. I think all of you bloggers are...I mean you talk the talk and run the run...what do I do...just sit and cheer. As for running faster than you...keep in mind that you are training for a goal..something that you have in front of you that you want to do...I am just running so that I can spend time with you...and if I go to fast and hurt myself or need to doesn't matter because I don't need to get in 10 miles for training. You...and all of the running readers of this blog are out doing it...the rest of us aren't and that is something that you should be proud of...I know that I am proud of you for what you are doing. Whenever I talk about you to another runner they say that you are doing screw the non-runners!

  2. Are you running to win? Or because you enjoy it?

    I thought so.

    I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I could have 10,000 hours of training and still not be as fast as half the blogs I read. Because that's my body and my legs.

    You are the only person you should be racing against.

    And, you're still lapping people who never get off the couch.

  3. HA! "That algebra looking stuff" :D You're hilarious!

    I say, do what makes you happy. If you are happy with your runs/races right now...then keep doing what you're doing. If you think it would be pleasurable to try some speed work and see if you can become faster, then try it out...and if you don't like it - go back to what made you happy in the first place :-)

    I like to keep things simple.

  4. FF, you may not have the speed you desire, but you have heart, and that is going to keep you running longer and farther than speed ever could.
    YOU ARE A RUNNER. Fast, slow, BQ or not. I think you are awesome and proving more to yourself every time you get out there. :)

  5. Okay, the blogger bastard ate my huge, long comment. I will condense: You are not slow, by any means. Those runners up front are doing it by (a) having natural talent and (b) being in major pain. You can get faster by doing speed work -- I can easily see you getting into the eight minute miles without much work -- but in a 5K distance. It takes talent to run longer distances, and to run them consistently. Ultramarathoners routinely log 15-16 minute miles, but over 30 to 100 miles. I've talked with fast marathoners and they tell me they can't imagine being on their feet and in pain for the six+ hours it took me to do the marathon. Well, I had some discomfort, sure, but I wasn't in pain. Why would I run if it hurt majorly, every single time?

    Anyhow, stupid blogger eating my comment. You are a fabulous runner. You have a definite talent for the middle distance races. Many, many runners can only do short distances; they can't even do the half marathons. Ultimately, in running, you are running against yourself. And you're kicking your ass! :)

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  7. Do you know how many people get to win a race? One, that's it. Out of the thousands of runners that show up at the start line, we all know we will all be losers accept for that very first person to cross the finish line :) Does that stop anyone from showing up, heck no! Run cause you love it (and from reading your blog it sounds like you do!) The only person who cares about your time is yourself. I know I am slow compared to my cousin who can run a half marathon in an hour 50 minutes, but she thinks she is slow because she knows people who run them in 1 hour 20 minutes. There will always be someone finishing ahead of you and someone finishing after you... and if there's not, would you make fun of the person coming in last - um no! You'd be so excited for them because they finished and got out there and did it! Just get out there and enjoy yourself... and of course enjoy the competitiveness you feel with yourself as you try and better your time during your races!

  8. What Rose said. Be proud of how FAR you've come, and the things you've accomplished! I used to be so jealous of The H, because he is FAST. But he can't run more than 4 miles at a time, ever. We can totally kick his ass at a half :D.

    You're awesome. Don't doubt it. Ever.

  9. SO many good comments here, R!! I am proud of you for giving YOUR best and LOVING what you do.

    Alos- I love the new photos on your blog side bar :)

  10. I could have totally written this post. In fact, I've been rolling something similar around in my head for awhile. I've never been fast and now I have knee issues. I've gotten so many people involved in running and I end up watching them get involved and then pass me by. I'd love to run faster and I'm not giving up yet. I agree with everyone else that the important thing is that we love it and that we make the choice to do it. Not only that, but I get to meet awesome people like you to share it with. I'll run with you any day :)

  11. Firstly, you are not alone in the slow runners club. I am a very proud member of it. If I run a 13:30mile, that's a miracle of a day for me. My fellow running friends are much faster (almost literally twice as fast). And as much as I would like to run the same pace as them, I know that that is not a possibility for me, at least not right now. One major lesson I have had to learn (and am still learning) is that I cannot compare myself to other people's paces. I just can't. Otherwise, I depress myself and that's just not fun.
    I ran one 5k where I was the VERY LAST person to cross the finish line... but guess what? I still crossed it! That's more than a lot of people. Like Biker Boy said, don't worry about your speed, be proud in the fact that you are running so long and so far because there are even more people out there who aren't doing anything at all. You rock! Just remember that!

  12. Fly, you and I will be the ones finishing in the middle of the pack with smiles on our faces and chatting to the person that we decided to run with that race. We might even help them finish a little faster than they thought they would. So long as STR and the rest of them save us a couple of beers, I'm OK with it. I'm SLOW too.

  13. Heck, I will never win an age group award. Even in teenie tiny races, I can't come close. These Dallas runners are FAST. I almost puked running a 26 min 5k and was barely in the top half of my age group. I'll never win. I'm competitive with myself. That's the only person you can compare to. Sadly, a lot of your potential is genetically pre-determined... all you can do is live up to your potential.

    With that said, girl, you have a lot of speed in there still developing... give it some time. I bet over the next 2 years you will surprise yourself with your half marathon improvement. You've already improved your half time by over 30 sec/mile. That is HUGE. I would do crazy things for 30 sec/mile. And you've only been at this distance a couple months.

  14. You are a runner no matter how fast or slow it takes you to finish the race or training run. What matters is that you enjoy running... and you do, so keep doing what you're doing!

    I used to run 10-minute miles when I started running. Over time, adding more mileage, strength-training, a little speedwork here and there, yoga, and even dropping a few pounds (which happened as I trained for my first half-marathon) helped me become faster. 8 to 8 1/2 minute miles is where my pace is now.

    5 years after I started running, I won my first race. If you want a good shot at winning a race or an age group award, check out the races sponsored by Calico Racing, based in Nevada.

  15. Already a winner in my book. You cross finish lines. You give your best. And you are always determined.
    PRetty RAD to me!

  16. Oh wow. I could have written this. I still have a hard time considering myself a "real" runner because I am so slow.

    But you are getting out there and starting and finishing races!! You are improving and I would love to be as fast as you! :)

    You are awesome!!

  17. We are what we are and should accept that. You don't need to run against others, just run with yourself! There is nothing wrong with being taking your time and enjoying the scenery!

  18. I completely agree with what Emily said above. This could have been written by me! I too would love to be as fast as you.

    You are doing such a great job with everything, don't ever doubt yourself or your running! :)

  19. I think we all are striving for our 'best to be better'! I love that. That is what I love about running. It is so individual. Fast is relative. Fast for me, may not be fast for someone else. Slow for me may be fast to someone else. We are all out there trying to reach personal goals and be better than the last! What an amazing feeling to push ourselves past what we thought we were capable of!! Keep it up and keep pushing down the next wall. There is always more ahead!! :)

  20. is overrated. I say the only reason to run fast is if it's raining..


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