My first running race of 2016 is finally in the books. Race day was exceptionally humid and warm for Iowa, and I struggled with asthma on the run. Considering my lack of consistent training, it went as expected. I jogged about a 12 minute mile, way slower than I’ve run in the past, but slightly faster than I’ve been jogging in my hilly neighborhood. The race and course are all too familiar: it is a fundraiser for our school district and I’ve run it for over a decade.
The first time, when my son was in kindergarten, I tried to run the 1-miler with him. That is when I realized I needed to get in shape, as it was not easy for me. He was in difficulty and whining at the turn around, so I finally told him just to Riverdance to the finish (he was a big Irish dance fan.) He took off and smoked me to the finish line.
Later he got 3rd place in the half mile on a day when they cancelled everything else due to rain, and one time he ran the 5k with me. He had a big lull in the second mile, so I walked with him and encouraged him to not give up. He had a second wind and smoked me again at the finish.
I had my own PR on that course, finishing in 29:20 when I was 44. That was right before my ankle surgery and some setbacks that have made it tricky to run consistently again.
I ran my first 10k and my first half-marathons on that course several years ago.
And then nothing last year. I can only explain this by a complete sense of exhaustion and need to heal in different ways: yoga, ballet and sleep.
However slow I was compared to the past at the finish yesterday, I realized that I felt equally, if not more proud, to finish even in 37 minutes. I knew that it took a lot to get out and run on a Sunday morning when I’d played a concert the night before, and I had little time to train the week leading up to the race. But the race itself motivated me…not out of a desire to win, but out of a desire to accomplish something. I’ve never been a fast runner, but I have gotten better with perseverance.
Some people are motivated by a desire to lose weight. I can’t say I’m happy with my weight right now, but it is less about how people perceive me and more about how hard it is on my body. Trying to run with 30 extra pounds on my frame is like trying to run carrying a bag of Morton salt. It sucks.
Some people are motivated by competition. Sometimes I feel competitive in a race, and I did indeed sprint at the finish yesterday. I noted about 6 people ahead of me that I decided to pick off, even if they were only about 10 years old. (No more nice mom now that my kid is far from home.) However, I can quickly feel bad about myself if I’m comparing myself to others.
What motivates me is the sense of accomplishment I feel when I put my mind to something and then try and do it. I feel like I’m being a good mom, because I’m showing Ballet Boy that I empathize with his hard work. Whenever I feel like I don’t have time to run, I think about the fact that he gets up every day, no matter how sore, and dances about 6-8 hour a day, excluding pilates and other weight training. If he can do it, I can certainly get my butt out on the road for 40 minutes.
I feel like I’m a better partner and wife, because running makes me less grumpy. The endorphins make me a much more pleasant person to be around, and the Brewmaster was very cool and hung out by the finish line yesterday. He missed my grand finale, which was not only a sprint to the end, but a beeline to the port-a-potties that had been plagued by a long line at the beginning.
Finally, I’m motivated by myself. Who else is going to get me out the door? I’m too slow to run with Candy Ass or others, but I know I will get faster if I work at it.
So, I just signed up for another race. This Friday! A very flat 5k that benefits United Way. This time it should be 60 degrees and cool. No more excuses…gotta run!