I like to run, but I’m very rarely satisfied with where I am in my running because I’m pretty tough on myself. I’ll set strict time goals for ten mile races. I’ll set distance goals for Saturday runs. I recently ran eight miles after a v.e.r.y. late night because I figured I knew I wanted to run eight miles for days before and no, my friends weren’t actually pouring the wine down my throat and keeping me awake, so I had to suck it up and run the eight miles. I'm not a marathon runner, but I'm a bitch of a self-coach and never pat myself on the back.
This past weekend, I did something I’ve never done before. Something that intimidated the heck out of me. Something I didn’t really tell anyone I was going to try. Something I swore I couldn’t do, didn’t want to do, would never do.
I ran a half marathon.
I ran it with a friend. We ran through the woods and crossed streams on cute wooden bridges and couldn’t run more than two people across because it was just a little path through the woods. I loved it.
As I was running, I started remarking on how pretty the run was. Started talking about streams and bridges and trees.
Then, by about mile eight, I started to realize I felt great. I looked at my watch, and we were running at a pretty decent clip. I was doing it! The miles were flying by!
I confess, I started to get a little cocky. Little pleased with myself. Started thinking that maybe I could run half marathons. Started to feel like maybe I wasn’t just a ten-mile-max runner. Just started the mental motions of patting myself on the back.
Because I got close to the finish line and wanted to get there. Wanted to drink water, see Whit and Jack and Caroline, and, frankly, I kind of just wanted to sit down. I kind of just wanted to stop running.
So I sprinted as fast as I could.
Should’ve stayed humble ‘til after I crossed the finish line.
Because, see, I had gotten water right at mile 11 or 12. And then I ran as fast as I could, through the chute lined with moms and dads and kids and dogs and friends cheering madly for the runners. I sprinted, my heart raced. I could barely breathe. I had the fleeting thought that I should've skipped that water station.
And then my stomach started convulsing.
And I started barfing.
And maybe, just maybe, I wet my pants a little bit.
In front of all those moms and dads and kids and dogs and friends.
Then I got home and realized my Body Glide had failed me and I had a raw, red ring of open flesh around my rib cage, right where the band of my sports bra had been rubbing off my skin for 13.1 miles.
Then I realized the old, comfortable shoes that had felt so good for 13.1 miles had destroyed my knees and hips and I was walking like an arthritic amputee.
Then I realized I was a little dehydrated from running 13.1 miles and couldn’t take enough ibuprofen or drink enough water to kill my headache.
Then I burned my hand by grabbing a pan I’d had in a 450 degree oven. (This injury has nothing to do with the race but it sucked.)
So my little pat-yourself-on-the-back, give-yourself-a-little-handshake moment of feeling like I had conquered a new frontier?
Now I'm in the throes of a wrap-your-ribcage-in-nonstick-gauze moment. A change-the-bandage-on-your-second-degree-burn moment. An if-I-can-make-it-up-the-stairs moment. A google-how-much-ibuprofen-will-kill-you moment.
I miss my happy place.
I miss mile eight.