I've never really been a team sport kind of gal. I swam in high school. I liked to ski. Maybe it's my only child syndrome, but I've always been attracted to individual sports. Maybe it was because I was in charge of my goals. I got to set them and if they weren't achieved, I had no one to blame but myself.
However, I've come to learn running is not an individual sport. Yeah, I put in the time and the training, and I set my own goals. But I would be ignorant to think I did this on my own. I have help. A lot of help. My friends give me advice, encouragement and are there for my downfalls and successes too.
It's now my turn to help. I have the honor to pace my friend Corina this Sunday at the Cowtown Marathon. Her goal is a sub 5 hour marathon.
A few weeks ago, Corina and I ran a 20-mile training run. It wasn't her day. With two weeks of ice-a-pa-looza, both of us had to cut back our training, against our will. Lord, I have been there. You want that training run to go well because in your mind you are thinking this is a dress rehearsal. But it's not. This is the place to rest for 30 seconds to get your heart rate down. Take a few minutes longer at a water stop. This is not a race. It's building endurance and getting time on your feet. I could tell she was fighting herself. Because I think as runners we all have to fight that urge to treat our longest training run as a dress rehearsal for what will happen on race day.
She kept thanking me for talking her through the rough patches. But I don't think she realized that by helping her, I learned more about myself.
My last two marathons, I was blessed to have someone running by my side pulling me through my rough patches. I felt guilty. This is an individual sport, I should be able to do this on my own. These guys have got to be bored and frustrated running at a pace that is slow for them.
They weren't bored. The three hours and 49 minutes that I was out there with Corina was fun. For the first time in a marathon training cycle, I didn't feel stressed, injured, tired, exhausted and scared. I was having fun.
At one point in the run, we talked about how there have been too many times where we have taken our races too seriously. Flogged ourselves for goals that weren't achieved. Felt embarrassed about our performance. But we also talked about how those goals are individual goals and self-driven punishment for not attaining them. No one cares what our times were. They care that we did it, learned from it and had fun. It was reassuring for me to have someone to talk to about all the frustrations that I have had lately about not meeting my goals.
On Sunday, we'll be running Cowtown together, not as individuals, but as a team. And I bet we will both learn a lot about ourselves while we are out there.