I’ve been avoiding writing about this for a while, but its time. Two weeks ago, I ran my first race in a very long time. It was absolutely horrible. I made a rookie mistake in assuming that I would run fast. That was just stupid. I had only trained for one week before the race. It was close to ninety degrees. I had spent the past two days walking around the city of Chicago. I was not hydrated nor well rested. This was just not an environment meant for success. And yet, my over-competitive stupid self believed that it was.
I am way too competitive for my own good. I take every race or competition incredibly serious. That was great when I was competing in the high school state meet, but when I’m running in the “Culdesac 5k,” I shouldn’t put so much pressure on myself. But I always do. When I race, I race hard. I race to win, or to run a personal best time. Which is STUPID when you have only been training for a week.
So, like I said before, the race was horrible. I ran my first mile way too fast, and thus began a long, slow, painful death… I felt like I could barely breathe and I was concerned that my legs could have given out at any moment. Once I lost that momentum, I lost all of my mental stamina. I just completely gave up. It was hot, I was tired, and I wasn’t running fast. A recipe for disaster.
It was the slowest 5k race I have ever run in my life. I’m embarrassed to even be writing this, but I ran the 5k in 23 minutes, 43 seconds. Oh God I am humiliated. I realize that that is a lot faster than a lot of people can run, and I am thankful for that. But you must realize that my best time for the 5k is 19 minutes, 20 seconds. So what I ran in the Culdesac 5k was WAY slower, and naturally I was very disappointed with it. God, I never ran that slow in high school. Now I know that some of my running friends will see this… That kind of scares me, which is why I held off on writing this for so long. But I realized this: what kind of writer am I if I don’t write honestly? And that’s why I have to share this experience with you all.
After the Culdesac 5k, I was extremely discouraged. I knew that I hadn’t been training much, and it was not ideal racing conditions, but I just felt like there was no way I would ever get back to the level I used to be at. I didn’t run again for the rest of the week. After some encouragement from my loved ones, I did start running again, albeit not very much.
So two days ago, Thursday morning, I ran another 5k. We were down in Nags Head, and they have a series of races right in our neighborhood. Honestly, I wasn’t too excited about it, and I didn’t expect much either. But my mom and brother were running, and I knew it would be a fun event so I got up at 6:00 AM and went out there anyway. Much to my surprise, the race went really well! I ran the 5k in 21 minutes, 43 seconds; exactly two minutes faster than my race at the Culdesac 5k. In only two weeks, I dropped two whole minutes, which is huge progress! I was thrilled after I finished. Not only did I race that much faster, but I also raced a hell of a lot tougher, which is really important to me. I am still over two minutes off of my personal best, but that’s okay. I know there is a long road ahead of me, but I’m ready for that.
I now am extremely happy that I ran the Culdesac 5k. Had the Village of Nags Head 5k been my first race back, I would have been disappointed with 21:43. But now I know how far I have come, and I am more motivated than ever! Heck, if I keep up this dropping two minutes thing, I’ll be running personal bests in no time 😉
I am a sucker for a good quote, and there is one particular one I have kept in mind throughout my injury struggles and recovery process…
Every setback is a setup for a comeback. God wants to bring you out better than you were before. -Joel Osteen
Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever be the runner I once was, but that quote keeps me motivated. Even if that day never comes, I’m happy that I’m able to still do what I love. What these past two races have taught me is perspective. I may not be the runner I want to be, but I’m extremely happy with my progress and I have to remember how far I have come.
I know a lot of people who regularly read my blog love reading about my running, so that’s why I wanted to share this. Hopefully one day I will be able to write about some more spectacular success, but this will do for now 🙂 Thank you everyone for all the support and encouragement I have received throughout this never-ending recovery process. The minimal success I have achieved thus far could not have been done without you.
Keep on running, my friends…