Me! A 50-year old woman, who only just started running six years ago! I'm not talking first in my age group. Oh no! I won the freaking race!
Did I tell you the race consisted of three people?
Did I mention the fact that the other racers had no idea they were competing with me?
Oh, and did I gloss over the fact that I didn't even know I was racing them until, well, until I wanted to KICK THEIR ASSES!
Let me take you there. I woke up a little late today because I watched the meteor shower on the beach last night until late with my three boys, who, you should know, are all taller than me now. I'm just getting back into running after being sidelined for a few miserable weeks, so slow and steady was the name of the game. Throw on the running clothes, shove a banana in my mouth, grab a bottle of water, and I'm out the door. It's already warm, so I told myself I'm just going to log a nice, easy 3 miles.
The first mile was pretty awesome, as far as first miles go. The songs were pumping right along with my footsteps, I'm passing walkers, and I'm as jacked up as I can possibly be. Man, it's good to be able to run. I felt like I was flying by at some amazingly fast pace. I looked at my watch to see the typical double digit pace, not the single digit pace I was hoping for. But that's ok, because it felt good!
Come the turnaround, I walked for a few minutes to catch my breath, knowing I had to run back a little quicker than I'm used to so I could see Son #2 off to work. Just as I started to run again, a very fast (much younger) runner girl passed me, so I did what any of you would've done. I picked up the pace just a little, if only to see if I could actually run as fast as she was running, even for just a few seconds. I couldn't, so I let her go.
The jams were pumping and I was having a good time towards the end of Mile 2. When what to my wondering eyes should appear, than fast runner girl walking up ahead! "I Get To Pass Young Fast Runner Girl" replaced the song I was listening to, and I whizzed by her, feeling pretty good about myself. As I approach the beginning of Mile 3, my right calf started talking to me. The fear of being sidelined again took over, so I started to walk to sort it out. Can you see where I'm going with this? Young Fast Runner Girl flies by me once again, sweat glistening on her well-toned shoulders. Yes, she actually glistened. Damn her! Fast and glistening.
Too busy daydreaming about having shoulders as nice as YFRG, out of my periphery came another woman who ran right by me. Justlikethat. In my reverie, I had dismissed everyone else on the road that morning except for me and YFRG. The woman who stealth-passed me had on a matching running skirt and top. Very well put-together running outfit. Really nicely done. But she's going down. We are approaching the end of this 3-mile run, and I became determined to beat Miss Skirt. She had put some space between us, and I needed to catch her.
I turned on the speed as much as I possibly could, but didn't look down at my pace, for fear I'd be disappointed. Just keep running, just keep running. Dodge the kids on bikes with surfboards, the impatient drivers, just keep running. In my attempt to catch up to Miss Skirt, I see YFRG just up ahead, and in my mind, I'm OK coming in second to her, just as long as I can pass Skirty McSkirterson. In a complete upset, YFRG starts walking again, I pass her, then move up to pass Skirtarific, and I WIN THE RACE! Seven blocks early to boot! I did not see this coming! Much like
I turned down my street feeling victorious!
And then I thought, neither of these women knew that they were characters in my little show this morning. They have no clue as to how much they have motivated me to run a little faster, go a little further, and make up names and fun stories about them. Neither one of them knew that I was just coming off of an injury, out for a slow 3 before my son goes to work. And I didn't know anything about them, except what I could see. Glistening and everything. The race I won this morning was 3-ish miles, the start and finish happening on my street, at a random time because I overslept, that no one else knew about. I won it because I said so.
Maybe YFRG was doing timed sprints this morning. Maybe Miss Skirty-Pants was going out for her very first run in ten years and wanted to rock the outfit.
It's so easy to compare yourself to another person, but do yourself a favor and just DON'T DO IT. "Comparison is the thief of joy" is the quote that comes to mind. How can any of us possibly know what another runner/friend/co-worker/neighbor is going through? My "three miles" and your "three miles" can be shared. While the miles may be the same, the experience for each of us is not. We all have hurdles to overcome, and unless you carry a sign around your neck advertising exactly what fight you are fighting, no one knows! My point is, each one of us makes choices in life according to a set of Extremely Specific Criteria, as a result of Certain Things That Happened. Yours is not the same as mine, even if we're doing the same thing. It's not fair to compare. Not fair to you. Not fair to me. And it'll kill your motivation. DON'T DO IT.
But DO get out and do what you love. Don't worry about how you look. Don't worry about crazy people like me, putting you in imaginary races. If it wasn't for YFRG and Miss Skirt doing what they loved, I would not have won my very first race.
Do you concoct crazy stories in your head?
Do you glisten? Or do you sweat buckets?
What do you love?