Comparing yourself to others scrapes some joy off the occasion.
Last night was time trial night. I’ve been waiting for it. I know I’ve improved – even if only by a few seconds – and I wanted to have my progress made official. There was no arguing with myself to shoehorn myself out the door last night. I was ready and keen. Until I pulled into the parking lot outside the club fields, that is. Then waves of nausea nicely rounded off the heavy feelings of self-doubt and nerves.
But I told myself to stop being ridiculous and lined up with those sleek and fast young runners that make up the majority of the club. And off we went. It felt like a cracking pace. Except it wasn’t really, because those sleek young runners quickly passed me and widened the gap between us. But it was fine. I was simply going to run as fast as I could. It wasn’t a race between them and me – if it were, there would be no point in turning up.
Out the club grounds, down towards Beach Road and then twice around the Stadium before heading back into the club grounds and doing one lap around the field … my favourite … finishing off a run doing a lap around a field … ugh!
The monkeys were fairly quiet during the run. ‘Just run,’ I said over and over to myself. ‘You came here to run, so run.’ And one line from that Christopher Cross song repeated itself annoyingly in my head … except, instead of ‘ride’ the band sang ‘run’ … ‘Run, run like the wind!’ And, rather unhelpfully, also ‘I’ve got such a long way to go’. ‘It’s not a long way,’ I argued with the band in my head. ‘Just get to 3 kay, just three, then it’s as good as over,’ I told myself as the air rasped through my throat. ‘Just run!’
After 4 km I felt myself slow down. I was putting on the brakes. ‘You can rest all you want when you’re done. Just run!’ But my legs were no longer listening to my head. And I suppose my heart neither, because if I had more heart, maybe I would have run faster. I had slowed down.
All I wanted was to crack 28 minutes. I wasn’t sure that I had run fast enough to do that … but I did it! 27 minutes and 45 seconds, according to the club’s time sheet. I was ridiculously happy! It’s just amazing how a few seconds can bring joy to the heart of a runner. Just a few seconds! That’s all. My last 5 km logged by the club was 29:22 – and then I was beyond happy because I had come in under 30 minutes. I had clocked 28:31 on my run with the Significant Other on Saturday morning – and that had pissed me off because I had clocked 28:24 on my previous 5 km on my own! Just a few seconds can make or break a runner’s day. Amazing.
So I broke the back of 28 minutes. And my fastest kay was 5:09/km – so I can run at about 5:00/km. And I was a grinning loon, feeling most pleased with myself. It was day 14 of 100 days of running and I was definitely improving.
And then this morning I looked at the time sheet. Geez! The fastest time is 17:25! Okay, I know I’m never going to run at that speed. So it’s not even on my radar. I’m hoping to do a 25-minute one day. I’m not sure if that’s beyond my abilities. I don’t know what’s beyond my abilities. I don’t know what my abilities are. I’m going to have to find out.
But I came 74th out of 91. I’m still a back marker. And that tarnished the joy a little, I must say. And that’s just stupid. Because I’m not racing against them. I’m trying to better myself, to run as fast as my fitness level, my age, my body and my talent will allow.
I’m not Mo Farah. I’m some person who decided to pick up running as an activity after she had reached her sell-by date. So suck it up, woman! Be pleased with the achievement … for today. Then get back out there and better it. Run the first kay at 5:09 and then the second one also. Just run.