I signed on for several different jobs on this relay. I was one of two co-captains. I helped organize and run meetings, I typed up meeting minutes, I agonized with Klari over all the tiny little details. I also signed on as a driver so I spent 14 hours (out of 27) driving round and round and round the Cabot Trail making sure everyone was where they were supposed to be when they were supposed to be there.
What I didn't sign up to do was run.
My reasons for this were pretty clear and reasonable (in my opinion anyway).
- I can't run the required 6:00min/km for more than 10k and I certainly can't run that pace on any kind of incline. There are no flat, 10k legs in the race.
- I don't do well when I'm tired so the thought of driving for 14 hours AND running a race somewhere in there was enough to make me cry from exhaustion.
- I have diabetes. Yes, I know, people with diabetes can do everything that everyone else can do (trust me, I prove this all the time). Problem is that running in a relay means that people are counting on you to run, and finish, your part of the race. Diabetes doesn't always co-operate and it never gives advanced warning when it's going to roar and gnash its teeth in anger. I have had to end many runs due to ridiculous blood sugars. That's fine when it's just me - it's not ok in a relay. Our team was working too hard for me to have to bail on a leg. I just couldn't bear the thought.
- I am running a half marathon on June 3rd. My first race since my stress fracture last fall. I did not want to compromise that race by racing the weekend before.
For those reasons, I made it very very clear that I did NOT want to run. Instead, I was going to do everything possible to help the runners and that I did.
Here's the thing though. When the Mojitos get together, I immediately feel surrounded by love and friendship and I am honoured to be part of such a great group of people. I am also, as much as I hate to admit it, always a little embarrassed. These people, and I mean every single one of them, are some pretty fantastic runners. Qualify for Boston on a regular basis kind of runners. Pull off several marathons a year, run Comrades, travel the world running races kinda runners. Not all of them do all of these things but all of them do some of these things and, if you put them all into a room together, it's a room full of lean, strong, experienced running superheroes.
They never make me feel anything other than an equal but it's pretty humbling nonetheless. I just tell myself that it's all relative and try not to blush when they ask me about my last race.
I headed to Cape Breton with 17 of these creatures. Other teams assumed I was as fabulous as they were simply because I wore the Mojitos t-shirt. But I know my Mojitos runners and I know myself - and I know the difference.
And I'm ok with that difference.
Because, it's all relative. Right?
Hanging out with the smartest people in school and feeling inadequate doesn't mean you're inadequate in all circles. Hanging out with some of the fastest people in Niagara doesn't mean I'm any less fast that I am when I hang out with people who can't run to the corner. It's all relative.
What I learned this past weekend is that it's always relative.
I spent the weekend watching my beloved Mojitos feel humbled. Feel inadequate. Feel downright embarrassed about their running skills. My Mojitos, some of the best runners around, were suddenly toeing the line with teams made up of the best runners around. The Mojitos were no longer the people who win their age category - they were racing their equals and they were racing people they will never be able to catch.
They felt the way I feel when I hang out with them.
And I learned a really important lesson as I watched them swallow their fear and step up to the start line. It's not about other runners. It's about yourself. It's about doing your absolute best - no matter who else is running. They ran fabulous times and they did their very best. They may have come in 50th out of 70 runners but they ran the best race they could run and, in any other circle, they would have caused jaws to drop in astonishment.
It's all relative.
So, on Sunday, I will be running my first post-injury race. My first goal, of course, is to cross the damn finish line. My second goal is to beat my typical 2:22:00 time. My third goal (you know, the secret one you don't tell anyone) is to run it in under 2:15:00 and get a new PB.
Many of the Mojitos ladies will also be running and, chances are, they will all finish in under 2 hours.
A few weeks ago, I would have been embarrassed.
After the Cabot Trail, I learned that a personal success is a personal success, no matter who did or did not beat you. If I get a 2:15:00 time and come in last in my age category, it doesn't take away from the fact that I kicked ass.
It's all relative.