I finished last in a 3.4 mile training run yesterday. My legs turned to jello after a mile and a half running with a faster group. I puttered to the last stop light where the run/walk coach was waiting. She told me I had done a good job, but all I could think about were the times when I had finished last in other runs. I always finish, sometimes it just takes me a while. I finished last in a relay marathon when I was the last leg after three slow and steady teammates. (There was no chili left at that finish line by the time I crossed it.) I finished near the back of the pack of the San Diego Rock-n-Roll Marathon after all the bands had stopped.
I decided several weeks ago to train to for the Seattle half-marathon in November. I turn 40 in October and want to mark the occasion by achieving a physical goal. That means strapping on my shoes and hitting the road. Having trained with a group before, I know that is the only way to consistent success. I learned the roads of Austin while training. I made true friends while training. I lost weight while training. I proved things to myself while training. Finishing is great, but training makes the difference. My hope is that training will bring that same meaning, focus and context to my Cincinnati experience.
Saturday morning I cringed as people passed. I huffed and puffed. The pain in my legs grew. It started to rain. I kept going. More people passed. I thought about the months ahead on the road. For a split second I asked myself why was I doing this. This was only the second time the half-marathon group had trained together. It was all I could do to keep from thinking I am in the worst shape of the group. (Not an inspirational thought.)
The two friends I have already made in the group are faster. During the two runs, we have stayed together for about the first mile then they politely put on the ear phones and run on. I have started ahead of the run/walk group during both runs, but have ended with or behind them both times. Maybe if I just train at a run/walk (running three minutes, walking one) pace from the beginning, I will be able to finish strong. I will keep trying to figure out the balance between pushing myself and staying healthy.
I have several months to make it not hurt so much. I have several months to make friends. I have several months to learn the hills of Cincinnati. I have several months to grow stronger. I know the biggest challenge comes on the mornings when I do not want to put my shoes on. Balancing my love of yoga with my love of the outdoors will happen as I move between the studio and the tree-lined streets. I will check in as the process unfolds.