Yesterday I ran in the Bay Days 5 Miler and had a fantastic run! My recap will be coming on Monday, but during the run and even for a few hours after my mind kept returning to two distinct ideas that I constantly remind myself of while participating in a race. Consider them my rules, so to speak. The words of encouragement and motivation I constantly repeat to myself when the finish line seems so very, very far away and I think I’ll never get to the end.
The interesting thing about this is that when I ran in the very same race last week, there were people who finished well over 50 minutes. Which means if I had made this year my first year I wouldn’t have been last. I couldn’t tell you where I fell in the line-up this year but I can tell you that I went from a 47:40 to a 43:03.
Likewise, I spent most of the Bay Days 5 Miler in the pack of the back. And when I say in the back of the pack I mean I spent the majority of it in the last 5 people and for a while I was the last person. This was a huge race so to know I was trailing everyone might make it easy to make a snap judgement about my pace, except I kept checking my time on my HRM at every mile marker and was running a fairly consistent 14 minute mile, which was close to what I ran for the St. Malachi 5 Miler back in cold, sleety, snowy March. Considering the amount of heat and humidity going on yesterday I was incredibly happy with that time, so while I might have been one of the slowest runners at Bay Days I was by no means running slow. Comparing my race to another person’s race is pointless.
What is not pointless is comparing my time to my time. The whole time I was running yesterday I was keeping track of my pace because I knew what I had done at the St. Malachi and wanted to come as close to that time as possible. I do this with every race as each new one is an opportunity for improvement and a possible PR.
I am well aware that I am not a fast runner. I will never place in the top of my age group and I will often be at the back of the pack. But I’m okay with that because in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter how fast or slow the person in front or behind me are going. Their times have absolutely no effect on my own and unless you actually are trying to place than it also doesn’t matter how many people cross that finish line ahead of you. What matters is that you cross that finish line.
Because of the heat I admittedly had to walk a fair amount of the race — which says a lot then about my keeping that 14 minute pace for the whole thing. If there is one thing I have learned over the year and a half of running it’s that there are times when I can walk faster than I can run. Or, at the very least, can cover ground more efficiently walking.
This is especially true in the summer with increased heat and humidity. Yesterday started off overcast and cool but when those clouds broke, holy hell. My shirt was soaked by the time I was done (so that racing shirt came in handy when I went out to brunch with my parents. Bonus: it’s a womens fitted size Large. Booyah!) And when I say soaked I mean so much sweat you could feel the weight of it.
I know I can run 5 full miles. But I also know that there was no way in hell I could have done it yesterday without potentially passing out and that’s okay. I started strong and I finished strong, gaining a bit of speed at the very end when I saw the finish line in sight. In between I let my body set the rhythm: When it said it was tired I started walking and I could always feel when it had caught its breath and was ready to pick up the pace.
Running brings so much to my life and I want to be able to continue doing it for a very long time. But the only way to make that happen is to take care of my body and that means letting it guide me and my pace during races and if that means walking parts of the course, so be it.
What are some of your race rules or things you use to keep yourself motivated?
Love from the ashes,