Today was my half-marathon in Bristol New Hampshire, the site of the one and only full marathon I have run, and the race that convinced me that I’d never run another! Guess what? It was awesome and I’ll be back next year. The half is the race for me. The training is manageable and works for my life right now.
I haven’t run a half for a year, not since Applefest, when I totally bonked. I lucked out: it was cool and raining, my favorite kind of day to run.
I ran the way I wanted too. I ran the pace I wanted and felt happy in the end. It is such a great feeling to prepare and see the preparation pay off. I walked (limped) away feeling inspired and wanting to run more halfs, to train more, so I can get faster. And that’s a great way to walk away from a race.
Here’s what I like most about running: When I’m out there on the road, it’s quiet and I can think. Thoughts come into my head that remind me that God gave me a body that can move, can RUN, and can teach me many many things. It reminds me of the famous Eric Liddell telling his sister, I believe God made me for a reason, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure.
Running is so mental. Today I cleared away any angst, and I just ran. There were two guys ahead of me; Red shirt man was about 100 feet ahead, White shirt man was about 30 feet ahead. I said, keep them in sight. They are your pacers.
Every so often a new man would emerge: Blue shirt man would come from behind, his feet hitting heavy on the ground, pass me on the right, then rest for awhile while I passed. Then we would repeat this cycle a couple more times. I think he was just trying to confuse me. But I kept my eyes on the prize.
I tried to keep Red shirt and White shirt in sight at all times. They were holding steady paces. I never let myself start to slow. I kept saying, Hold that pace! Which is kindof like, duh, of course you hold the pace, but have you ever really tried to do it? It really helped me. You do not allow yourself to go any slower than the pace you want to run. You get in your groove and you hold it. You make your body get in that steady rhythm and not let up.
As we approached the last three miles, the pace started to pick up. I stayed with my guys. Hold the pace. Speed up and relax on the downhills. My friend Brian rocked the race with a 6:40 pace and was the one who convinced me to sign up saying, “It’s a net down hill, a few short hills and the rest is downhill.” I kept thinking, “You totally lied, Brian! Here comes another hill!” But I digress…
We came into the last mile and I knew I could finish, but suddenly Red shirt man was taking off and White shirt man stopped! Oh dear! Keep going! he yelled at me as he rubbed his calf. I felt bad for White shirt guy. He had this race…was so close and had brought me to the finish line. I never saw him again. I never saw Red shirt guy either but was grateful for one thing: They paced me the entire race. Don’t stop, don’t give up! I wanted to keep saying, I’m right behind you and I need you right there ahead of me!
We are all pacers. We don’t even know the people we are leading and inspiring. People everywhere are looking for someone to follow, something to believe in. People everywhere are watching us, observing our actions.
I didn’t look behind me in the race, but I wondered…Am I pacing anyone back there?
I thought of my children in this race. I am leading them. I am pacing them through life. I can’t quit. I can’t pull over to the side of the road and say, “I’m sorry. I can’t do this.” I have to finish this race for them.
I thought of when I was child and life was more simple, when I was unaware that there was such a thing as a social status. I just wanted to be happy and have a family and friends that loved me. I was less concerned with what others thought of me – if they liked me. I think that was when I was the most liked, when I didn’t care so much.
Somewhere along the line, we become aware of the opinions of others. This isn’t entirely bad; we need to be socially aware to a point. But I remember in 2nd grade a boy sneered at me, “Why are you wearing your pants backwards?” I looked down. I was not wearing them backwards, but there was a pocket in front and they kindof looked backwards. And I almost switched them around just because he said that. I’m watching my kids now. Their peers hold great power over them. But I want to whisper in their ears…They are looking at you…they need a pacer too…Be the one…
Look behind you. You are a pacer for someone else. Maybe it’s one person, maybe it’s millions. But someone is watching and following. Look ahead of you. Make sure that person ahead is the right pacer, that they’re going to where you want to get to.
Make sure you are running the right race.