“This race will be a challenge, with Amy recovering from ACL-reconstruction surgery in January and with both of us training at sea level in D.C. for a race at an altitude of almost 5,400 feet.”
When I read it, I thought: Oh. Right. Crap.
In life and in training, we waste so much time thinking about how things should be. In this case, I’ve been clinging to the idea that I should be able to run a 10K easily, and relatively quickly. Instead, I’m coming to grips with the fact that I cannot call in a 10K right now. No matter how slow the pace. And certainly not after less than 48 hours at 5,400 feet. Even when I’m in marathon or half-marathon shape, the first few runs at altitude are exhausting, requiring a few stops to stretch or walk. Or, you know, dry-heave. And anyone who’s read this blog for any amount of time knows I ain’t in no half-marathon shape right now.
So how to formulate a goal worthy of a race run in someone’s honor?
I think it’s a matter of realizing that it’s totally fitting that this race is about formulating goals given what IS, not what “should be.” Steve’s mom wasn’t supposed to get cancer. Neither was my friend Alexis, who recently finished her last course of chemo after a breast-cancer diagnosis that came just days before Steve’s mom got her own bad news (you better believe I’ll be thinking about Lexi on race day, too). Alexis just turned 31. If she and Steve’s mom can let go of what should be and embrace what is in regard to life and recovery, I can certainly do so for a 10K race.
So here’s my best attempt at formulating process-based goals that honor the spirit of this race:
1. I will finish, and embrace that as the victory it is.
2. I will do so as quickly as possible, and I will understand that this may not be my typical definition of “quick.”
3. I will run strong. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that this won’t be my PR. But while I can’t promise to run a certain pace (see above: I’d like to think I can guarantee 10-minute miles, but even that makes me nervous), I can promise to run a strong race, mentally and physically.
4. I will soak in every bit of the race-day atmosphere (there are 31—yes, 31—bands along the 6.2 mile course!) in an act of gratitude for having a body that is healthy and strong enough to do so. I will waste no time that morning focusing on what I can’t do, and give thanks with every step for what I can do. More importantly, I will understand that every step I run that day will make me stronger, meaning I will literally be a stronger person after crossing the finish line than I was before I started.
5. I will commit to a healthy training cycle. In the month leading up to the race—which also happens to be the month and a half leading up to the 4.4-mile Great Chesapeake Bay Bridge Swim on June 12—I will train as hard as my body allows, and no harder. I will also be extra-careful about what I eat and drink. My birthday falls just a week before the race, so I’m not going to swear off alcohol or sugar (no birthday cake=bad luck for the coming year). But I will aim to consume more fruits and veggies and less sugar and booze between now and then. Again, it’s easy to find inspiration for this goal: My aforementioned friend Alexis started drinking tons of veggie juice after her diagnosis, and has cut out most sugar. Certainly, I can lay off that second (fine, THIRD) cupcake.
Thank you so, so much to those who have supported our mission, either in dollars or words of encouragement. I’m grateful for and humbled by every contribution, and truly believe the little we’re able to raise will help support services that mean so much to families like ours.