The last few road races I ran I stood on the starting line talking to myself in my mind, preparing myself to run. “This is not a race. You are not racing. This is not a race.” It’s a good thing I wasn’t talking out loud so no one could hear my less than inspiring mantra. But here’s the thing. My mind knows I don’t race anymore, but my legs don’t. The gun goes off or I start a long run and my legs take off until my lungs remind them that we’re asthmatic and really pretty out of shape, and if my legs don’t slow down then my lungs will personally shut this whole thing down!
I have signed up for a half marathon in April which will be my first half marathon in four years or so, so I’m going to be racing, but it’s not a race. This is my second time being a runner. My first time included running in high school and college and running at least 9 half marathons, a 50K, and most of a marathon (that’s a story for another day). And then health issues got in the way, and before today I hadn’t run more than four miles in years. So now I’ve started at the beginning again, which is one of the best things about running — you can run the farthest you’ve run since whenever. (This always make me think of Dylan from Modern Family — ‘This is the farthest I’ve been from home, now this is, now this is…)
That being said, I have come to peace with the fact that I will probably never break the PRs I made in college and that to have my mind set on that will only take away from the gift.
Because it’s not a race. I’m not racing, I’m running. Which is hard to take in because we love race metaphors. We “run the good race” which I love as an imagine, but I also know that we have to pace ourselves to finish the good race, and we ain’t sprinting folks, trust me. My legs want to run fast and hard. My head knows that this is not a race.
Come the end of April I hope more than anything to run most of the way and finish with my friends I’m running with. I am not racing.
This is not a race. This run, this life, this job, this doing life together stuff. I get excited and I want to run hard and fast. I want to work fast, write quickly, fix efficiently, grow promptly, be rooted rapidly. But this is not a race, it’s a run, a long run.
A run where we can actually see the heron land on the pond. A run where we talk with friends along the way and pause to fix shoes and jackets if they become uncomfortable. A run where the pace is more about running with others than winning. Because there will be days and occasions to race, but today, this season, I am not racing because this is NOT a race.