The Slowest Thing I’ve Ever Done

[NOTE: This has been sitting, half-written, for MONTHS. I did not want to do this for several reasons, including that I wanted to selectively delete this from memory AND that it’s getting SO LAME to keep sharing HOW LAME I’ve been this year. But remembering something about a race way back in January 2015n prompted me to just spit this out.)

Okay, maybe not really THE slowest thing I’ve ever done.  But close.

First, let me say that I presently decided that it is somewhat incongruous that I am a slow runner, as I am not a slow anything-else.  I walk like I’m always in a hurry.  I talk like an auctioneer in training.  Typically, I try to finish a task as quickly as possible, even where efficiency isn’t exactly a requirement.  It just struck me as funny.  And possibly cruel.

Jill and I signed up for the Buffalo Creek Half marathon maybe in August with the intention of finishing rather than racing it.  We registered with too few weeks to train for time.  (Or because we’re slackasses.  You be the judge.)  We stuck fairly well to a plan, building up mileage each week, but I wouldn’t call my preparation “training” in any remotely hardcore sense of the word.  However, I did put in more miles prior to this race than I did prior to Decker’s Creek in June.  So even though I didn’t have a goal time, I thought the race would turn out similarly.  My time in June was 2:38, so I was expecting to finish in that time, plus or minus a few minutes.

With a finish time of 3:02, I’m not sure I could have been more wrong. Really did not see that coming.

At about 2:20 into the race, I started calculating a projected finish time (despite my made-to-be-broken rule to never attempt to combine math and running) and started bitching to Jill about how ridiculous it was that we’d be pushing three hours.  Jill got exasperated with me and said, “Most people can’t even DO this!” (Note: Jill managed to finish just under three hours.)

Point taken.  I dragged my ass out of bed early.  I showed up.  I covered 13.1.

Perspective. Now I have it & that’s what friends are for.

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Cute shirt and medal!

Which is all well and good.  But it also puts me at a crossroads.  I need to make a decision about whether or not I am going to be satisfied next year with signing up for races that I just finish or if I’m going to work toward improving again.

I want to do better, but I have been struggling with consistency for the last few months.  I am having a harder-than-my-ordinary-laziness time getting out of bed in the mornings to work out.  I’m tired, so I can’t get up.  Yet missing my workout makes me more tired.  It’s an ugly, vicious cycle, and I think I actually need to start to  combat it with my diet.

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Okay.  That is where I left off writing this, back in early November.  Have a changed my diet?  Barely.  Have a changed my fitness routine?   A smidgen.  I do have a plan, which I promise, again, I’ll describe later, but for the last two months, it’s been not unlike that race itself – just dragging out the misery (by not making enough changes).  I think I’m finally in a position to get down to business with all of it – the fitness, the eating, the sleeping better, the mindset – especially now that I no longer have the holidays (with all the busyness and eating) bearing down on me.  As I said, I’ll get to that.  For now, let’s wrap up why I decided to revisit this post.

 

The January 2015 memory that prompted me to reopen this is as follows.  The lovely Jessica drove out to meet me in Greensburg (I tempted her with pastries; leave it to her to order oatmeal) to run five miles with me the day after Christmas.  She mentioned the Run to Read half marathon, which we went to last January and how cheap it is ($30!).  I said I’d love to go, but there was no way I’d be able to prepare myself to run that far between now and then.  And then I said – pretty much as I realized it – that the first eight miles of that race (before we hit the snow-covered part of the trail where I completely fell apart) was the last really good run I’ve had.

That hit me like a ton of GUs.

I suppose I have had many other runs this year I found to be fun, acceptable, or even “good” (but not “really good”).  And even though I was a hot mess for the last five miles of that race, I can still very clearly recall how exhilarated I felt during the first eight miles of that race.  My mile splits were certainly not setting anything on fire, and I did slow down a good bit in miles 6-8 as compared to 1-5.  But in the words of Forrest Gump, “I was RUN-NING!”  No walking.  No wanting to stop.  No wishing I were dead.  Eight straight, glorious miles, during which I felt good, strong, in a groove.  It’s honestly the last time I felt like “I LOVE RUNNING!”  And that was 12 months ago….

It’s simultaneously completely depressing and totally motivating.  On the one hand, I’m thinking, “Well, why did I even DO eleven more months of running if it really didn’t feel so good?”  And “You started out great and then hit the skids for the rest of the year.  You’re pathetic.”

On the other hand, I’m all, “OH YES!  I WANT SOME OF *THAT* AGAIN.  GIVE IT TO ME, BABY!”  Feel-good running, I’ve missed you.

I want to break down my goals and the steps all in one place, in a separate post, so I’m not going to get into all of it now.  But as I alluded to above, I’ve spelled out the things I need to do as far as running, cross-training, eating, sleeping, and staying calm/mindset.  The over-arching theme (themes?) is process, structure, and consistency.

Although I’ll pick some races to do – if for no other reason than I really love me a race environment – the focus is going to be on setting goals around creating and sticking to a plan, rather than setting goal distances or times.  The structure is what I really need in order to get back to a place where I FEEL AWESOME when I’m running.  Plus, I figure that the times and distances will come once I commit to and execute a solid plan.

Which brings me back to where I left off with what I’d written in November.  I’ve redefined the crossroads where I felt caught between “settling for finishing” and “improving.”  I want to improve, but my criteria for that currently don’t include needing to go faster (or farther, for that matter).  I don’t want to settle for finishing, but I don’t necessarily want to significantly improve my times, either.  I want to finish and improve my experience.  I want to feel good, and healthy, and strong for everyday life, as well as on the run.  I want to experience that exhilaration of running, three, five, eight, maybe 13.1 miles where I can just run and not drag or walk, even if my times remain slow relative to some of my past-years’ races.  That rock star feeling shall again be mine.

So what do you think?  Do you find disappointing experiences to be more depressing or more motivating?  Do you think re-framing your perspective or your goals can be a healthy thing?  I’d love to know if this sounds like a great idea, or if you think I’m lacking vision for not having a race time or distance goal?

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(Between my writing this and its final proof read, three races – a 10K and two halfs [halves?] – have been identified to complete between now and early June.  Some details have to be worked out, but it appears that I now have something to work toward.  Yay!)

 

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