Monday, March 21, 2011

The Runner's Circle

Six more sleeps until Around the Bay and my first attempt to run 30k.

All runners face doubts when they tackle a new distance. Can I do it?  Do I physically have what it takes to run that far?  Will my shins hold up?  My feet?  My calves?  My shoulders? Am I mentally prepared to run when I don't want to run anymore?  Run when I don't think I can run anymore? 

Oh, and don't forget the never-ending concerns about misbehaving blood sugars, having enough fast acting carbs and insulin pump mishaps.  Did I mention that I won't have my beloved support team with me on race day?

That's when the really scary thoughts creep in. What if I can't do it?  I mean really can't do it?


Races are ridiculous.  I sign up for them because they motivate me to train.  I focus on them and that feeling I'll have when I cross the finish line.  I wear the race shirts with pride and have all my finisher's medals on my dresser.

And yet I don't really like races all that much.  What I really love is the training.  I love my solitary runs on Tuesday nights. I love the long runs on Saturday mornings that get a little longer each week. I love knowing that I'm getting stronger and that distances that seemed overwhelming during my last training are a little easier this time around.  I love that my shins and calves held up a few weeks longer this time before they started to scream. 

I don't really care about the race.  Sure, the camaraderie is fun and being part of something historic is exciting but, in many ways, it's rather anticlimatic.  Twelve weeks of work culminate in 3 1/2 hours of running and then it's over.  Another medal, another bib number, another race checked off the list.

When I ran my first half marathon, I went home afterwards and sat in my ice bath nursing my cup of coffee.  To celebrate, my partner at the time put on the song that I had played after every long run during my training. 

And I burst into tears. 

I felt so lost now that the race was over.  Now what was I going to do?

Thankfully, I've become a little less emotional since then.  I now look forward to my two weeks off after a race and I look forward to starting a new training schedule with fresh legs and a new race on the horizon. Crossing a finish line is no longer the end of the world - it's just the end of the race.

This time next week, I'll be enjoying my post-race day off.  I'll be walking kinda funny, drinking lots of water and enjoying one, maybe two, well deserved naps. I probably won't collapse into tears sitting in a bathtub full of ice water, wearing a sweatshirt and hat and nursing my hot cup of coffee (seriously, how pitiful is that image?) but I will wander around like a lost puppy for a few days.  Thankfully, I now know what to expect before, during and after a race.

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It's the circle of life Simba.

The life of a runner that is.


  1. Two thumbs up for an awesome post.. I so love the way you write!

    You're so right... soo much training to run 3.5 hours. I like the way you view race day though. Maybe I should try to look at it completely different like that.. race day is always so big for me. ahh..
    4 more sleeps! :)

  2. I can so relate. I never perform well on race day. Always out of the gate too fast and then struggling, often walking the last few k and unhappy with the run. My best runs are usually unexpected ones during training and I appreciate them the most. Reading about crying in the tub after your first 1/2 really struck home for me, as I also fell into a big blue funk after my first 1/2. It really threw me for a loop and I remember thinking "what the heck? I should be overjoyed at completing that", but I felt like a ship adrift on the sea with this "now what?" just hanging there. Now I see the moments creeping in, but just appreciate the time off as ramping up for the next on is around the corner.