Confession: I’ve really been in a tough place with my running since the Ironman last summer… My legs haven’t wanted to move very fast and I haven’t felt like I’ll ever be able to get back to where I used to be with my running – physically or mentally. Before today, I had done two races so far this year and both were substantially slower than I’ve ever run them in past years. Despite this, I’ve continued to get out there and get my runs done (however slowly), thanks to the encouragement of Coach Mark.
Given that this struggle bus has been my reality for almost a year, I went into the Cherry Creek Sneak 5 Miler this morning with loose expectations and a stretch goal of finishing in 55 minutes. This pace is quite a bit faster than I’ve been able to hold for even 1 mile lately, so it was a pretty huge stretch. I told Zach before I started that I would be shocked if I finished in under an hour, and more than likely it would take me over an hour.
The race started and I fell into a rhythm. I kept checking my pace and managed to run the first mile in just over 11 minutes, which put me on track for my stretch goal. I think I was actually a little shocked in that moment because it’s been so long since I felt that good physically during a run. I assessed the situation and decided it seemed like a semi-uncomfortable but manageable pace at that point, so I decided to hold on as long as I could and just see how the remaining 4 miles panned out.
To my great shock and delight, I somehow managed to hold that pace for the entire 5 miles (and only 1 walk break through an aid station) and finished in just under 56 minutes, so very close to my stretch goal that I’m calling it a win!
After the better part of a year struggling mentally and physically with my running, I finally feel like I broke through some weird invisible wall during my race today. I’ll never be fast by conventional standards, but at least I showed myself that I can be “fast for me” again. It was a good reminder that sometimes things are tough (and can be that way for what feels like a really long time) and you may feel like you’re never going to get through it (whatever it is), but if you continue to stick with it and surround yourself with positive and supportive people, you do have a chance of coming out the other side with a win!
…and then you get to have a beer with your BFF. 🙂