I’m a liar. I lie to my family, my friends, my coaches, and even myself. This past weekend, I lied to strangers. Funny think is, I know a large number of those people were lying too. We knew it and we were ok with it.
Let me explain. I ran the Vernonia Half Marathon on Sunday. This was the third time I’ve done this race, and it has become my favorite half. Two years ago, it was the first half marathon I had ever done, and that was a huge milestone at 52 years old. Of course I cried when I crossed the finish line. I was escorted the whole 13.1 miles by my fellow Honey Badgers, and I knew I wouldn’t have been able to finish without their help and support.
Since that date, I have run 9 half marathons, 2 full marathons, 3 triathlons, and countless 5k’s, 10k’s, and relays. During this time, I spent much of the later part of 2012 and the first half of 2013 injured. I alternated between NOT running and doing Physical Therapy, to running TOO much, and hurting myself again. Like Winnie the Poo, I am a person with “little brain”. SO, I got a one on one coach to help me “Be healthy, train smart, and have fun.” (PRS Fit)
Working with a coach and being a member of an international team of athletes keeps you on your toes….and in the pool…. and on the bike. It also keeps you from buying Doritos and having “just one more glass of wine” at night. You see your weekly workouts and wonder, “How the heck am I going to do that?” And you DO it. Some days the challenge seems easy. Other days, you set off for a series of fast running intervals, only to succumb to a severe asthma attack, get scared, throw up, and cry. THEN you walk a little because, after all, you’re three miles from home, and what are you going to do? You get home, log your workout and wait for your coach to review and comment on your amazing effort.
This is where the lying begins. I tell myself that I am NOT a good athlete. I tell myself that I am not strong, not fast, not “worthy” of my team and my fellow athletes. The words “I am a poser” have crossed my lips more times than I dare admit. Silly I know, but I imagine you might have had these thoughts from time to time, as well.
These lies are poison. They are death to the mind, the ego, and the soul. I am making a commitment to end the repetitive negative self talk that accompanies me on my athletic journey. I know I will struggle with this, but I will keep at it, like I will keep doing my interval runs, despite my asthma. Like I will go lap after lap in the pool, until I am dizzy and shriveled. Like I will endure the pain in my legs while cycling uphill in zone 4. Like I will continue to work out, log, learn, and improve.
This past few weeks, as I was training for the Vernonia race, I struggled with every run. I had serious doubts about finishing the race at all. I told my coach I wasn’t looking to PR, but I wouldn’t mind at least finishing as fast as my LAST PR back in December during the Holiday Half Marathon in Portland. That was my best race ever, despite a nervous stomach and some GI issues around mile 5.
What I didn’t tell my coach was that SHIT YEAH, I wanted to PR! I wanted to break 2 hours, to be exact. But I lied. I didn’t think I had it in me, so I stuffed it. I was afraid of failing, of admitting to myself that I thought I could do it, and afraid of….WHAT exactly? I don’t know. Coach gave me a plan, and I committed it to memory. I still didn’t know if I had another 2:04 in me.
The morning of the run, I was surrounded by the familiar faces of dozens of my running friends. It was a glorious morning, in the low 40’s to start, with temperatures expected to reach the 70’s by afternoon. The sky was blue and the trees were all in bloom. Talk about beautiful! The first mile or so of the course is downhill, so you have to be a bit careful not to blow out your legs by going too fast too early in the race. The rest of the course is fairly flat until the last 3-5 miles, where you gradually go uphill the whole time. Last year, this uphill killed my damaged Achilles. I walked a lot that year. THIS year, however, I was determined NOT to let it stop me.
I ran my “plan” and found myself just a little ahead of my time at the mile marks. I felt pretty good, so I just kept on going. I chatted with friends along the way, but got into my own head and kept on pushing myself forward at a steady pace. I set my sights on a few people ahead of me that I knew were shooting for a sub 2 hour finish and tried to keep up with them. I got an amazing compliment from a young 20 something year old girl who said as she came up beside me; “I’ve had you in my sights for a while, and it was my goal to catch you.” What? Me?
I did all my secret tricks for staying focused on this run, like repeated mantras in my head, said lots of prayers, and replayed my coach’s words of encouragement. I knew I was on target to beat my stated goal and now I was HUNGRY to beat that 2 hour mark. Doubt is a bastard though, and in the last 3/4 of a mile, my body started listening to the devil within me. EVERYTHING started to hurt: my knees, my IT band, my “bad” ankle, my blister on the bottom of my foot, and my head. Three times I stopped for just a second or two to stretch and just say “NO” to the noise. When I saw the last short steep downhill switchback, just before the finish line, I barreled around a group of runners, and made the last effort to get it done. My official finish time was 2:00:29. I had beat my recent PR by over 4 minutes!
Boy, did that feel great! I had a great run, on a great day, and proved to myself that I am not a poser. I’m a strong, determined competitor that is still improving. From now on, I will not lie about my goals. I wonder how well I would have done if I had admitted to myself and my coach that I wanted to finish in under 2 hours. Well, in about 2 weeks, I am running the Tacoma Half Marathon, and I WILL beat that time. I hope to tell you all about it!
Do you hide your goals behind your fears or doubts? Do you lie to yourself? Let’s agree to work on that, shall we?