I’ve talked before about some of the reasons why I love the running community as much as I do, and yesterday I was reminded again not only why I love to race, but also why I respect my fellow runners so very much.
There’s nothing quite like being surrounded by a group of runners striving toward the finish line. I truly believe that any person who runs for fitness needs to make a point to participate in a race once in a while. Running for fitness is awesome, it’s a great calorie burner, a wonderful way to clear your head, and (although there are many that will disagree with this) it just feels good! But race day is truly like none other.
Runners feed off of each other’s energy. The adrenaline rush the race atmosphere produces pushes us to to run faster and longer than we thought possible. We are constantly striving to better ourselves. With that said, I do believe there is one trait we as runners all share in common; we are stubborn. Now I know that this does not sound the most complimenting, but honestly it really is true. Runners are stubborn, hard-headed, and quite tenacious. Ask any runner about their race day experience and they will most likely gush about how much they loved the event, the participants, the course, and how much they can’t wait for their next event. What a non-runner may not realize is that racing is not always sunshine and roses, and it actually takes a lot of hard-headed, stubborn determination to train, show up, and complete a race.
Racing is tough, and for a good portion of the race itself many of us feel pretty terrible. There are moments while racing that we feel like we may puke, poop, and pass out, all at the same time! (Okay, maybe TMI, but if you are a runner this exact situation has happened to you. Just admit it). We get side cramps and our legs start to ache, but we push through. We are constantly striving for a better time than the last race, which means we are always pushing our physical limits in hopes of a final time that makes us proud. We are surging onward craving that happy release of accomplishment and empowerment when we cross the finish line, and sometimes we celebrate this while also dry heaving as we collect our medal and water.
But runners are stubborn. We need to be. We push our bodies to limits that we did not think possible, and we do it because the feeling of accomplishing a feat that intimidates us makes us feel like we could conquer the world. We run through pain, we run when our mind tells us we cannot go any further, we do not quit.
Yesterday was no exception. I participated in the Rap River Run in New Port Richey. Last year I had run the 5K, and was pleased when I heard they had added a 5 mile race and kids race with obstacles for this years event. This year I decided on the 5 mile race, and was ready to redeem myself from a 5K last year where I had started too fast, and by mile three had slowed considerably as side cramps and exhaustion overtook me.
I arrived yesterday eager to race, and yet again I started out a bit too fast (whoops), finishing mile 1 in 7:58 minutes. Knowing there was no possibility of holding that pace, I quickly adjusted down to a more comfortable yet still aggressive 8:30 pace and ran on. Here’s where my stubborn runner streak comes in; Mile 1 usually feels great, but then comes the rest of the race, and you have to buckle down and push through till the end. Mile 2-3 took forever. My quads were burning, the heat/humidity of the morning was beginning to kick in, but I continued to steadily count down the miles while maintaining a steady pace. Just past mile 4 our course intersected with the 5K race, and we melded in with a new group of runners. The race itself was a bit longer than 5 miles (MapMyRun clocked me at 5.36 miles), and I ended as I had hoped, happy with the run and proud of my results. Although the race itself makes us uncomfortable, gives us pain, and causes a great internal debate as we convince our brain that we will continue on despite it screaming at us that we can not succeed, crossing that finish line feeling like a success makes it all so worth it.
After completing my race, I had the pleasure of running with Mason during the kids race. I love running with him! It makes me so proud to have the opportunity to run beside him and experience his joy as he falls in love with this wonderful sport. He ran the entire race yesterday, not once stopping to walk! When he passed his daddy along the sidelines he turned up the speed and took off at full blast, proudly showing off how fast he could run. I love that he loves to run! And I love that this is a lifestyle that we get to enjoy as a family.
So am I stubborn? Absolutely! But I truly believe that possessing the tenacity of a determined runner is not all that bad. We don’t quit, we push through the pain, and we live with a true passion for life. It makes me constantly thankful that I am blessed to call myself a runner.