Last Sunday was one of my favorite races of the year, the EQT Pittsburgh 10-miler. I love the distance. I love running through the city. It’s fall so the weather is usually right where I like it (cool but not cold) and this year my buddy was actually going to run it too. He had a big race coming up the following weekend and didn’t want to take this too hard, treat it more like a training run, so I asked him to pace me. And instantly I regretted it, but figured I would go through with it and see what happened.
I was in great spirits before the race. I felt good, positive about our goal. I was happy to be with my friends and running in the city I love. Then my watch never got signal. NOT happy about that, but also tried to reassure myself that it was fine, I didn’t have to worry about pace, I just had to keep up. Then we started running and before I knew it my mood soured. I was stuck in my head, spinning wheels of negativity and doubt, and I couldn’t get out. It was a struggle. I wasn’t having fun. The gel I took halfway through was sitting like a rock in my stomach and I was a little nauseous. Our pace fell off. My buddy prodded me to speed up. And I. LOST. My shit. I stopped dead, turned to him, and said “F*CK YOU.” And then I sprinted off because I needed space.
He wasn’t even being a jerk about it. Believe me, he’s been worse to me on training runs, way more annoying, and I’ve wanted to punch him before, but I’ve never *actually* lost it on him. I felt bad pretty instantly. It wasn’t him I was upset with, it was ME. I was mad at myself, but I couldn’t tell myself to F off, so instead I lost it on him. He caught up to me. I apologized (and have since apologized even more profusely). After that, I managed to have fun because the pressure was off. My goal was out of sight so it didn’t matter. I was thankful that he stuck by me for the rest of the race–I didn’t deserve that after my outburst, and would not have blamed him one bit if he’d left my ass. We managed to get some great pics from one of the photographers in our running club. We met up with someone running her first race in the burgh who needed some encouragement. I was faring better near the end of the race, so he told me to go on, he was gonna help her finish. I finished strong and with a course PR, though not the overall PR I’d originally wanted.
That event was a wake up call for me. I wish it hadn’t gone down the way it did, but I also NEEDED that to happen (which is undoubtedly why it did). The breakdown before the breakthrough. I’ve spent a LOT of time thinking about it, processing it. I’ve talked about it with different people (including my buddy, to whom I’ve apologized multiple times). I’ve discussed the base issues here in the past, but I’ve never really done the work to confront them. And now I have to. It hit home for me again talking to my trainer friend at the gym Friday night–it really all comes down to the distorted perception I have of myself and the lies I tell myself about who I am. Success in running, to a certain point, fits with my perception. But the level I want–it shatters the way I think about myself. So I get close, I get scared, I back off. Because then I get to be right–I can’t do it. I’m not strong enough. I don’t work hard enough. Etc, etc, etc. For years it’s kept me safe–it hasn’t served me, but it’s kept me *safe*. And that race was a turning point for me because I cannot do it anymore. I can’t live with the dissonance. I can’t keep up the lies. It is ALL in my head and I came face to face with that reality last week.
I’ve often wondered who I would be without the insecurities I’ve held on to for so long. It’s time to find out. In my soul searching I’ve come to terms with certain things I need to let go of, and I’m doing my best to do that. As far as running goes, I’m meeting with someone about coaching today. I’ve gotten as far as I can get on my own, and I’m ready to seek help in breaking through. Still planning to take a break from distance next year to focus on speed, but I’m already starting to get that marathon itch so I think I’ll be back in 2019.
More soon friends. Happy Monday.