….from a not-so-elite.
Do you run or race? Is there a difference?
Dude, that 10 mile race tore me up! I am sore. What happened? I ran hard, yes. Probably harder than I have in a very long time. My ankles are sore, my legs are sore, my shoulders are sore…my body is sore. It’s good I guess since I have RnR Seattle in just 3 short weeks. I’m still undecided about how I will run this race: Race it? Run for fun? Race for fun? Shoot for another PR (it holds my current 13.1 PR of 1:55). I’m not sure I really know how to race a 13.1. Sure, I know how to run it but actually race? What does it mean to race anyway?
To me, racing is where I leave it all out there on the course, where I very well may collapse at the end (or sooner for that matter) and need to be drug to the hotel (or ER). Where my body hurts and my brain is screaming at me to slow down, but despite all that I push harder! Where my body tells my brain to shut it’s trap and pushes against the pesky brain who is screaming to just let off a little bit. Where I know I have never run a sub 8:20 pace for an entire 13.1 but the race is the time time and place to do it so I do it and I run faster than I have ever trained and harder than I thought possible….yeah, that is racing! I don’t know if I can do that. I don’t know if I have ever really done that, not even in HS x-country. It is hard to push yourself to those limits, to purposely put yourself in pain. It is hard to overcome the mental side of racing, where my brain tells me my body hurts and I can just slow down. Where my brain says, “What’s the point? You’re not an elite. You’re not going to win. Just save yourself the pain and slow down.”
It’s true. I’m not an elite. I am not winning Overall or even Age Group. BUT….but I was reading the blog of the woman who got second in Iron Man Texas, Kelly Handel, and it is clear that there is not much difference between her and I, other than her “comfortable” 6:50 min/mile marathon pace (and all her sponsors and her awesome tri bike, muscles, 0% body fat, shall I go on?). One difference is she knows how to race and she does it. Well. She knows how to push her body and exceed her limits through pain. She knows she will not die if she pushes to extremes. She has a strong mental game. She can push her body. I bet she trains to do that. It takes experience to know your limits and the line that you should be crossing in a race. Can I do that?
I’m certainly not saying I want to be an elite Iron (wo)Man, that just might be crazy, but I would like to scale the wall in my brain that eerily resembles the Great Wall of China, so that I can improve and push my own limits. It almost seems that the elites are some sort of super-human athletes. But are they? Or do they just have super-human mental abilities? Yes, physical fitness and prowess is key but in order to make it to that level of fitness and competing it takes a strong mind, a mind that says, “I can do this. I WILL do this.” and “The pain will not last forever.” And mostly, a mind that can shut out all common sense that says the human body should not feel pain and should not be able to swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, then run 13.1 miles…the strong, elite mind says the body can and should do it and not only that but it can and should do it fast, faster than anyone else, better than anyone else…Go out, do it fast, get it over with and WIN.
I have unlocked the secret of the elite…….you’re welcome.