Sometimes you have to drown your post-run sorrows in a giant piece of watermelon while accepting that you’re not exactly where you want(ermelon) to be.
I’ve had a handful of running successes over the last several months including a huge (5+ minute!) half marathon PR at the NYC Half in March & a strong second go at the Boston Marathon. I feel especially proud of these two accomplishments when I think about how at this time last year I wasn’t running at all. Instead, I was figuring out when the best date to have meniscus surgery would be and if I’d be able to train for Boston after.*
Based on my performances at Boston and, especially, NYC, you could definitely draw a “setbacks can make your stronger” sort of conclusion. And this conclusion might be true, but that’s only the case until the next setback–that’s running, and that’s life.
Sometimes this reality might cause a person to stop mid-run, burst into tears, and slam their amphipod on the sidewalk while a black squirrel nearby witnesses & cackles at the them.
There you have a portrait of me at mile 8 during this morning’s 10-mile run…
My coach prescribed specific paces for my run today:
4 @ 8:15 (fine)
2 @ 7:10 (me: 7:11, poop emoji, 7:13)
1 @ 6:50 (me: 6:57)
2 @ 7:10 (me: 7:28, squirrel tantrum, 7:44)
1 @ 8:15 (me: 8:39, skull face emoji)
I could say it was just a bad day (which might in part be true!), but the fact of the matter is that the last month getting back into running/training has been an incredibly humbling one.
I was on a bit of a high after the successes mentioned above—particularly my half marathon PR, which, by most race prediction calculators, suggests that I should be able to accomplish another goal of mine: breaking 20 minutes in the 5k. My ego decided to insert another word into this sentence: “easily,”—i.e. I should easily be able to break 20 minutes in the 5k. 5k’s response is similar to the cackling squirrel, which is why I call them my nemeses (5ks, not squirrels). I’ve run three 5ks since Boston and not only have I not broken 20 minutes, I have not broken 21 minutes.
I’m not writing this to beat myself up about struggling with faster paces or about being naive to the fact that I might struggle with them. I’m writing to say that I’m not where I want to be and, when it comes to running, I probably never will be. I’ll always want to be better/faster/stronger than I am, but that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with where I am. Races might measure results, but running is a process sport.
*Note: Did NOT have meniscus surgery. Was lucky enough to meet Clint Verran & his team at Clint Verran Sports Medicine who treated me for IT Band Syndrome (which turns out to have been the real problem!) and helped me return to running —without surgery!