Add “run” and “be in bed by 9PM” to the list and this would be the most accurate description of my perfect party. Hide your peanut butter folks: I’m a party animal.
When I first started running, I defined “race” as a noun: the event of running. My goal was to finish. Just get to the end. And that was enough.
As I trained more seriously, I began to set race goals for myself. “Race” became a verb: to race. To meet a goal. Sometimes I missed those goals; I wanted a Boston Qualifying time in my first marathon, but missed it by two minutes (yes, TWO MINUTES). Sometimes I just barely got them; in my first half marathon, the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half, my hope was to get in under two hours. My finish time was 1:59:58! And sometimes I beat them; in the Tinker Bell Half, I was aiming for 1:45 and I came in at 1:43. And that was enough.
Then, while I was training for my first trail 22K, my coach mentioned in passing, “you’ll podium with this one.” Say what?! Podium? As in, win? Win a place? Like first, second or third place? ME?! He was right, as he usually is:
Suddenly, the verb “to race” had another meaning. It became a competition. And not just against myself. Finishing or meeting a goal was not enough. “To race” meant to compete against other people and to win. And, overnight, I had podium fever. I had a taste of winning. And I liked it. I loved it. I wanted more of it.
“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”
In my next race (the following weekend; how is that for crazy?!), I pushed more than I had ever pushed before. I ran the Fiesta Days 10K, a super hilly course, in 44:35. At mile 3, a traffic cop said, “there is the first woman! Go, first woman!” My jaw dropped (as much as one’s jaw can drop when pushing a stupidly fast pace up a hill). I pushed more. I won first place female overall. Me. Me, who had never dreamed of winning anything related to running ever in my life, except maybe a race raffle for free shoelaces or something.
I had one more race to go in my spring series, an 8 mile trail race in the Hollywood hills. I was determined to place again. But I was exhausted. I had very little juice left. For most of the race I knew I was in fourth place. I saw one, two, and three women go by at the turn-around point. But I put my head down and kept pushing. When I crossed the finish at 1:03:04, I was sad. Sad that I had not placed. Disappointed in myself.
And I knew that was crazy. I knew I should be happy with my amazing time (a new PR for trail!), my extreme push, my overall excellent performance. My family cheered. I tried to put on a happy face.
I looked at the results as soon as they were printed at the race booth; yep, fourth place. I had placed first in my division, but that didn’t reduce the sting of fourth. “I’m so stupid for feeling this way,” I though to myself over and over again. “Be happy!” I tried to silence that crazy lady voice, the one that was sad, the one that is competitive. I posed with my first place division medal and smiled.
And then some sort of miracle happened. I got home and checked the official race results online. I had placed. I had placed third female overall. In my last ditch efforts, I had somehow passed one woman. I was ecstatic.
I fully realize that these three races were small and not ultra competitive. I will not always place. In fact, I will NOT place more often than I WILL place. That is reality. And I have to be okay with that. Because it really is just about getting out there, trying my best, and finishing strong. I need to figure out how to silence my “MUST WIN EVERYTHING” demon. Find satisfaction in the wonderful triumph of finishing. Make “race” a noun again. Enjoy the ride.
But right now? Today? Today I am a runner who has won races. I am a runner who had a podium trifecta in three weeks. And that is amazing.
Folks, my relationship with shorts has been rough. I have tried wearing shorts all of my life. I tried bermuda, cut-off, cargo, mid-length, knee-length, and short shorts. But every time I pulled on a pair and looked in the mirror, I saw this:
And running in shorts? Forget it. No. Way. Ever. I was a strictly capris girl for working out, despite how hot and sweaty I would get. Don’t get me wrong: I had great self-esteem. We just weren’t friends, shorts and me.
But then something magical happened when I began to seriously focus on running. The more I ran, the better my legs looked. I ran faster and longer. I built long, lean hamstrings and quads. I lost weight — nearly 20 pounds.
And one day, when I was in Sports Chalet looking for new sports bras, I thought, “should I try shorts? I’ll try shorts.” I picked out a pair of Reebok Crossfit shorts. I snuck into the dressing room, fully expecting to hate how I looked. And guess what. GUESS WHAT?! They looked good. They looked great. So I bought them. I texted all of my girlfriends. I showed my husband. Me in shorts! Alert the press.
I wore them to the gym and instantly felt awkward. Those mirrors in front of the treadmill? Yeah, they aren’t great for hiding. But I did what I always do: I started to run. And the legs I had worked so hard to achieve through hours and days and weeks of running? They shone. Released from their spandex capri prison, they moved gracefully, strong and powerful.
I ditched my capris. Little by little, my shorts became shorter. First came a pair of Adidas shorts. Then some Lululemons. Cute and flattering, but not perfect. And then I found them: the holy grail of running shorts, the fabulously short short Oiselle Mac Roga. I bought a pair on sale from Running Warehouse (wait, you don’t know about Running Warehouse? Go visit the site. I’ll wait…….).
Running gave me the confidence to wear shorts. I still only own one pair of non-running shorts, but maybe this summer I’ll invest in more.
What has running given you the confidence to wear?
And no, Oiselle isn’t paying me for this post. Although if they want me to be an Ambassador I would be happy to oblige. 🙂
The other day I unzipped my Adidas warm-up pants’ pocket and found this:
Well, thanks, pants’ pocket! Way to get me going!
The inside of my Reebok shorts says, “I’m the toughest girl I know.” Heck yeah I am! There are hidden motivations in the hems of my Lululemon and Nike tanks, and my newest purchase, some fabulous Lorna Jane pants have, “your active life starts now” on the tag.
Finding hidden motivation brings a smile to my face and brightens my day. Where have you found hidden motivation?
I am a classic “Type-A,” rule abiding woman. But running has no rules. With running, you can escape the rules of reality.
My reality: I am a stay-at-home mama of two little ones, ages 2 and 3. For fun, I am an indoor cycle instructor. I’m the wife of an amazingly supportive husband and have the best network of friends and family.
My running: I started taking running seriously in May of 2013, when a very dear (and very fit!) friend motivated me to try a half marathon. In the past year, with a lot of dedication and coaching, I have improved my running beyond what I ever thought was possible.
Please share this freeing and fulfilling journey with me!
*Disclaimer: I am not a certified trainer, running coach or nutritionist. The workouts and meals posted here are informational only. Consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any exercise or nutritional program.