"A lot of people run to see who's the fastest. I run to see who has the most guts."
-Steve Roland Prefontaine - American long distance runner
Saturday was a landmark day for me. For the first time since my injury one month ago, I ran with Team In Training! They were all set to run 10 miles. I started with 5 miles. The last time I ran, I was at 3 miles, so this was a jump for me.
As we drove to the training spot, my mind wandered. I couldn't let myself think about whether I was going to fail. I refused to think about my ankle, my knee or my ability to catch up to the team. I stared out the window thinking, "I have seen a lot of sunrises since I started training".
At the meeting place, everyone was awake and enthusiastic. We all congratulated Brian on his website. He got a 'team star' for having the best one. I beamed with pride as I watched him get one of his many moments in the sun since our training began. He is one of the fastest on the team, he has already reached his fund raising goal, and he has the best website. My husband kicks ass!
I felt encouraged by the smiling faces welcoming me back. I tried not to think about being behind. Every time Brian told me they were increasing the mileage while I was on the bike, I felt discouraged and worried that I would never catch up. This run would determine my place in this marathon. If I was unable to run over 3 miles without severe pain, I would have to consider running the half-marathon or walking. Neither of those seemed to be an option for me.
This day marked a crossroads in my training. As Robert Frost said, "Two roads diverged in a wood". Would I be able to take the one less traveled by? Or would I be forced to listen to Dr. Negativity and have to "stay off it". We crossed the street to begin the run.
I started with a pace group that ran two minutes slower than my original time. Today was about endurance, not speed. I took off with the new running technique I learned from Jeff Waldberg. I felt like I was traveling at a snail's pace. On top of that, Jeff advised me to run for 2 minutes, walk for 1 minute. I was soon behind my pace group on the path by myself with the occasional team mate running past me. I didn't even feel like I was getting a work out. My ego wanted me to GO FASTER! I resisted and kept the pre-determined pace. After two miles, I increased my run/walk ratio to 3:1. I stayed with the slower pace and found a team mate who was running at around the same speed. It was nice to be able to talk to some one while running. If I had been running at my normal pace, I would have had a more difficult time carrying on a conversation. Lauren was my running buddy and we kept each other going from mile 3 to mile 5. At the end of mile 5, I was in a little bit of pain but felt I could run more if I wanted to. I DID want to, but took the advice I got from Jeff to start small.
I hung out with our Team Captain, Susan, at the water station with a bag of ice on my ankle. It was a little puffy, but not too painful. As the other team mates started to trickle in from their 10 mile run, they still had the energy to congratulate me with tired sweaty smiles. What an awesome team. I ran half what they ran, and they congratulated me! Well, I gave congrats right back to them. 10 miles...what an accomplishment!
As we drove home, I felt calm. I wasn't celebrating the way I thought I would be. I still have a long way to go, and five weeks to catch up to the team's mileage. I am increasing my mileage by 2 per week. As the team gets higher in mileage, they will be alternating the high-mileage weeks with lower mileage weeks. So they will run 12 miles next week, then 6 miles the following week, 14 miles the next week, 6 miles the following week. This will make it possible for me to catch up!
I learned that my mind is a powerful tool in my training. I can use it to help or hinder me. Strong mind, strong muscles, strong life.
If I have obstacles...I WILL RUN!
If I have doubt...I WILL RUN!
If I am tired...I WILL RUN!
How else will I know what I am really made of?