I joined over 17,000 other runners for the inaugural Rock ‘n Roll USA ½ Marathon in Washington DC last Saturday – my third long-distance race.
The weather was unseasonably warm and sunny. I was reasonably nervous and excited.
I didn’t taper for this race at all, since my bigger goal is the NJ Marathon in May. I simply kept my training schedule and exchanged an 18-mile long, slow run for the 13.1 at racing pace. My public goal was to use this as a training run to try out a consistent race pace of 10:15. My private goal was to at least match my first half marathon time; my secret wish was to beat it.
My wish was granted after 2 hours, 10 minutes, and 46 seconds of pushing my legs along and berating myself about going out too fast. The logical side of my head argued that I really should just have fun in this race, and that time didn’t matter. I certainly didn’t want to risk injury and put my marathon training in jeopardy. The competitive side of my head reminded me constantly of the quote I had tucked into my fuel belt that read:
If you push the human body, it will respond. ~ Bob Clarke.
What would happen if I pushed myself? Would I break?
Then I thought about another great quote by Marianne Williamson:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
And I decided to go for it.
I did go out too fast, and consecutive hills that seemed to go from mile 6 through mile 11 really kicked my ass. I pushed myself beyond my comfort zone and I was utterly spent by the time I reached the finish line. I felt frustrated by that, considering how wonderful I felt recently after finishing a 17-mile run, but I learned a valuable lesson about the difference between training runs and competitive racing, even if my only competitor was myself.
I have been afraid of so many things in my life. By challenging some of my perceived limitations, I’ve learned that running a little longer than most people believe is sane won’t actually kill me. Not only that, but pushing through discomfort and running faster than I thought I could brings me extraordinary happiness in the end.
I was overjoyed to learn that I set a personal record for the half marathon among the soft pink cherry blossoms and the majestic architecture of my favorite city. The pain is a distant memory, and I am ready for the next challenge.