On Sunday, I ran my first race since the marathon. Some runners enter races for fun or for friendship. Some enter races to keep themselves on task or to achieve a goal. Some runners entered this race to win special Super Bowl 10K wool socks, gifts awarded to the top 100 runners. My sister, husband, and I joked about using "socks" as our running mantra, repeating it during the race to inspire ourselves to pick up the pace.
We found parking, jogged over to the short (yay!) port-a-potty lines, and arrived at the starting line with time to spare. A sunny, relatively warm morning consoled us when they announced that the course route was revised, due to ice, and would consist of 2 out-and-back loops. After a few additional race instructions, we heard the bullhorn and took off, looking out for each other and trying to avoid that nasty ice!
Energy and excitement quickly turned to fatigue after climbing the first hill, my tingling legs telling me that my early race pace was too swift for me to sustain. Additional discouragement came at the hands, or rather legs, of my sister. We ran together for a short while. Comparing her nearly non-existent breathing with my very loud heaving, I decided that I wouldn't be able to keep up with her for the whole race. I watched her pull away from me, her athletic frame clothed in bright pink, weaving effortlessly through the crowd of the other front-runners who were undoubtedly dreaming of those socks.
I passed the half-way point in 22 minutes, a pretty solid time for me. But instead of finding pleasure and strength in this small achievement, I continued to focus on my tired body and my struggle to keep up with my sister. At one point, realizing that I was feeling miserable, I decided that I should just slow down and enjoy the race - enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery and people. But my misery was due to the activity in my head, and not so much the activity going on in the rest of my body. For me, slowing down wasn't the answer.
Can I rewrite this story and create a new memory of this race? In the rewritten story, much of the actual details of the race stay the same - beautiful race day, hilly and somewhat icy race route, lots of eager runners. I finish in 45:21, behind my sister and my husband. I do well enough to earn a coveted pair of socks. But in my new story, I speak kind words to myself as I run. I focus on my body's amazing ability to run at a quick pace over several miles. I am thankful for my health. I clap, trying to encourage the other tired runners. I am genuinely happy for my husband and my sister; I am glad for those who race by me. I marvel at their achievement.
In my new story, I am pleased with my performance; I am pleased with myself.