In honor of National Running Day, my favorite clothing company INKnBURN is giving away two of their gorgeous tech shirts! Click here to enter: https://wn.nr/BgAk8t
Yesterday I ran the Honor Connor 5K for the 2nd time. I was comparing my 2015 & 2016 performances this morning and had a major epiphany re: my running (and my coaching in general).
In 2015, I coached a Run for God 5K Challenge class at my church; Honor Connor was our goal 5K. My only personal goal for the race was to finish quickly enough to go back out on the course and run in with each of my classmates, which I got to do (with the exception of speedy Phil, who finished a few minutes before me and was probably the most joyful runner on the course). A couple of my runners won AG awards, which made me so incredibly proud. It was a wonderful experience and I enjoyed every minute – I didn’t PR and I didn’t AG place but I didn’t care, because it wasn’t about me.
Due to scheduling conflicts (Girls on the Run, my Big Sur marathon training), I was unable to coach a spring R4G class this year. I ended up running Honor Connor alone as a baseline run for the Sub-30 Club #getyourPR project, which is an 8 week initiative to set and crush time goals in the 1mi, 5K, 5mi or 10K distances. I tried to run by feel rather than aiming to hit a particular pace, but I still found myself obsessing over time as I ran.
I was 3 seconds faster than last year’s run on the same course, but I was 5:21 off my 5K PR. Nothing was necessarily “wrong” with my run, other than me feeling slow and vaguely unhappy. There was no joy or pride in my performance.
Finally to the point of this post: it hit me this morning that I enjoy running so much more when I am helping someone else reach their goals. Probably 75-80% of the races I run are at someone else’s pace, whether I am running with my best running friend, cheering on my GOTR girls or R4G folks, meeting a new friend on a course and helping them finish or pacing a group. When it’s my turn to aim for a pace above my current personal ability, that’s when the wheels fall off of the most important part of running: the sheer joy of it.
And if I think about it, this applies to my coaching in derby and in personal training as well. I’d rather help someone else achieve their goals than try to reach my own. I’ve long said I’m a better coach than I am an athlete, and yet I need to have a certain level of fitness as an athlete to keep up with the skaters and runners that I coach.
So what’s the solution? Do I find a running coach/pacer for myself so that I have someone who will be proud of me (which is very motivating for me as a people-pleaser), since I clearly have a hard time being proud of myself? Do I scrap the idea of aiming for a PR for awhile in order to preserve/regain the joy of running, even if that means not working toward pacing faster groups because I have limited myself?
Maybe I’m still burnt out and recovering from Big Sur Marathon. I feel like this running ennui is the state I’ve been in since Dallas Marathon in 2014, though – I went from that injury-tainted 26.2 debut to the letdown of Cowtown Marathon 2015 (canceled due to an ice storm so I ran it on a treadmill) to the highs and lows of checking my #1 bucket list race off my list a month ago, with a subgoal in 2015 of running 12 half marathons in 12 months (I ended up running 13 + the treadmill marathon).
Perhaps the solution would be to just stop running for awhile and concentrate on strength-training and kickboxing, but I don’t know if that would help or hurt me since I have self-identified as a runner since I was 7 years old. I just want to find my way back to that mindset I had when I was 7, when the sheer joy of running across a field full of cows and sunflowers was the only thing that mattered.
That’s enough self-absorbed navel-gazing for one day. I’d rather be writing meal plans and workout programs for other people.
Race report: Cowtown edition! Over the weekend, I ran the 5K and the half marathon for the Cowtown Challenge at Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth, TX.
The stats: this is the 4th year that I have run at least one race during Cowtown Marathon weekend, the 2nd year that I have run the Challenge (complete any two distances on Saturday and Sunday) and the 48th 5K and 23rd half marathon that I have run since I started counting in 2008 post-ORIF surgery.
Last year, the Saturday races plus the Sunday marathon and ultra were canceled due to ice and only the half marathon took place – but we were given the option to earn our medals virtually. I couldn’t get out of my neighborhood due to the ice, so I ran both the 5K and the full marathon on the treadmill (which turned out to be a great test of mental strength). This year, however, our weather was perfect!
Like my last double-race weekend in January (which I really should post a race report for, since I lovingly call it “Questionable Decisions Weekend”), I wore INKnBURN clothing for both races. I knew I needed the superhero power boost that their bright colors and patterns always give me, so I picked the Robot capris for the 5K and the full Miko kit for the half marathon. (to find their clothing, go visit http://www.inknburn.com/ and say goodbye to your next paycheck, because you’re going to want to buy EVERYTHING).
OH MY GOODNESS. I have never talked to so many people on the race course before, and that is saying a lot since I talk to nearly everybody I see during any race I run. People always want to know about my pink hair and my tattoos, but this time they couldn’t stop asking about the clothes. I wish I’d had cards on me to hand out – I shared the INKnBURN name with everyone who asked and thanked them profusely for the compliments. (one of the professional photographers even asked to be in a pic with me and took a selfie of us with his own cell phone.)
I ran the 5K alone and in my own happy little world, although I did get to talk to my friend Helen (who was running the ultra the next day) in the start corral. I was struck by how great the spectators were in the neighborhoods we ran through – children high-fiving us and adults holding up signs. I love when people on the race route are genuinely happy to see us traipsing down their streets. I also thoroughly enjoyed the fact that most Fort Worth police officers wear cowboy hats – that speaks to my farmgirl soul!
On Sunday, my sister-in-law and best running friend Jenny ran the half with me – we also ran into our friend Linda, who stayed with us for most of the first 7 miles but pulled ahead after and finished a bit before us.
Last time I paced Jenny we got her to an 8min8sec PR, but neither of us had a time goal for Cowtown – we were just out there to enjoy a nice training run together (we’re 8 weeks out from running Big Sur together).
It truly was one of the most fun half marathons I have ever run! The spectators were great for the half too, and the police officers and volunteers were so friendly and efficient. The course entertainment was pretty stellar too – case in point:
We finished with huge smiles on our faces and headed to the post-race food line (delicious choices – bananas and oranges, chicken noodle soup, Blue Bell ice cream, cashews, granola bars, and corn crisps), then to pick up our finisher’s shirts, jackets and medals. The Challenge yielded a special medal to join my 5K and half medals, plus a nice baseball cap with this year’s beautiful logo on the front.
By the way, that spur actually spins! It’s the third in the 3-year series of spinning spurs that Cowtown gave out. So now I have the half-full-half medals all hanging together on my medal rack.
All in all, I’d say that this was probably my favorite local race weekend (Runner’s World Festival is still my all-time favorite race weekend and I cannot wait to go back in October). I highly recommend running Cowtown – and I absolutely recommend wearing INKnBURN if you want to stand out and feel like a total rockstar!
I dreamed last night about pre-race logistics for a half marathon I was about to run. The triviality of parking, porta-potties and pace groups isn’t particularly noteworthy. It’s the fact that, for the first time in years, I dreamed about running instead of skating.
My brain never shuts down, even when I’m asleep. It just sets up the ol’ projector and starts the slideshow of what I’ve done and what I’m about to do. Before big events, Brainy becomes even more restless than usual – particularly if the events affect other people. Brainy will turn every dream into a dress rehearsal for the main event, which is just as exhausting as it sounds.
I never enjoyed pre-bout jitters. I didn’t like getting physically sick nearly every time I anticipated a tournament or rankings-dependent bout. I can recall so many days of twisted guts and so many nights of fitful sleep….it left me susceptible to full-blown illness every time. Altitude sickness in Taos. Food poisoning in Tucson. My coach had to drive me back from San Antonio on a turn and burn where I’d thrown up so many times during the bout that I was too weak to sit up afterward. I used to brag about the barf bucket I had to keep near the bench (mostly because if you’re going to be that gross, you really need to fully own it). The nerves pushed me, but sometimes they pushed me down to the floor.
Running has always been different – the nerves I feel before a race are like friendly little butterflies, fluttering just enough to make me want to move along with them. The nerves motivate me, not overwhelm me. They make me stronger, not weaker, because they sharpen my performance and give me that giddy tingle of anticipation every time I lace up my running shoes.
It helps that most of my races are local. I’m more comfortable when I have my routines and I’m not driving for hours the day before. I think it runs deeper than that, though. For years, I felt so much pressure to not only win, but to win by as large a point spread as possible. WFTDA rankings are funny like that, or at least they were for the years I played interleague – sometimes it didn’t even matter that you won, because it still wasn’t enough. I took being part of a team very seriously, knowing how important my performance was to our overall success.
Control freaks and perfectionists tend to view success as shared but failure as sole. By this, I mean we blame ourselves when our team loses or fails to advance in ranking. Even the realization that this is irrational – that no single skater wins or loses the bout for her or his team – isn’t enough to alleviate the self-imposed pressure that the highly competitive feel. Being in a leadership position compounds that stress – the captain is expected to not only play well, but to bring out the best in her skaters as well.
Self-awareness is the first step to moving past roadblocks like this. I guess I never really moved past it, but it took a bit of distance to fully realize that.
Running’s not always sunshine and roses. There’s barfing at the finish line and indignant ligaments and finishing slower than my goal time (which was already pretty slow). But it’s all mine, every bit of it, and it affects nobody but me. There’s a lot of satisfaction in that – in embracing personal expectations and owning personal disappointments while enjoying the social atmosphere of a race. I’m still sharing happy, active energy with others. Only now I’m not trying to slow them down, I’m actually hoping they’ll run faster so I’ll have somebody to chase.