Yesterday I finished the B.A.A. Half Marathon with over 5000 other runners. It was a good course, with lots of hills and shade, and even a short bit through the Franklin Park Zoo. It was my first half marathon. I had two set goals for the race and I accomplished them both. It was a good day.
I loved the moments before the race spent with my friend Nigel, who has been pulling me along through the training process. We drove to the race with our friend George, and another couple. Even though we were all running the same course, we all had different goals for ourselves. We were all running our own race.
When I was 13 and on my high school cross country team, I could barely bring myself to finish a less than three mile race. I always went out too hard, too fast, then would have nothing left to finish the race. I didn't set attainable goals for myself according to my own abilities. I just wanted to run hard and keep up with the more experienced runners. Of course, I couldn't. I hadn't logged the miles.
One of the most crucial things I have learned through training for this race is that rest is a necessary tool that I have never employed. I always want to push further and harder. Prior to this sabbatical, I didn't take breaks; I didn't say no to new projects, and I didn't see the havoc this pace was wreaking on my body and personal well being.
Last fall, I nearly collapsed. I ended up in the emergency room with one of my best friends beside me offering me an I-told-you-so glance and a quiet helpful hand. My adrenal gland was on overcharge, my hair started falling out in handfuls, and I lost a ton of weight. I have been trying to figure out a sustainable life pace ever since.
While running the 13.1 yesterday, I listened to my own needs and I was able to go the distance. I also paid attention to the runners around me. I didn't throw my water cups near anyone. When I needed to take it a little slower because I was overdoing it in the heat, I made sure I didn't slow down in front of anyone who was coming up behind me. I moved to the side and let them pass.
I walked at water stations to make sure I got all the nutrients I needed to keep going. With one kidney in 80 degree weather, overdoing it was not an option. I walked with my hands up a couple of times when the swelling was too much until my hands stopped throbbing. That's ok. Important thing is that those little breaks allowed me to continue. By the end of the race, some of the runners who passed me were stopped on the side of the road, others were walking, and others were in the medical tent at the eleventh mile. others were running along side me. Some passed me, and others moved out of my way when they sensed me approaching. It was great to see other runners affording me the same courtesy of moving to the side and being courteous to not throw their gu when I was passing them.
Pushing myself to the point of injury or collapse is no longer an option. Knowing my limits, and planning to overcome them through dedication, continual training, and practice will keep me going. Rest will allow me to finish.
Right now, I'm resting. I'm reflecting, learning, and planning my new course.
The work I started years ago through TLGUTS... helping to create a scene for visual artists in my home town of Lynn continues. I'm filling my cup, pacing myself, and planning to go the distance. And I'm not listening to the bystanders who are yelling, “there's only 400 meters left, dig deep, push harder!”, when I know there's a mile.
The last eight years of my life have been something like those early cross country races. The next eight, I plan to spend differently.
I've logged the miles.