My View from the Back of the Pack

Sun Aug 24, 2014

The back of the pack. It is the story of my life – my running life, that is. This could very well be the title for an entire new blog in and of itself. Let me ‘splain.

I ran my long run on the towpath this morning. 8 miles in 95% humidity made the 65 degree morning feel more like 85. Humidity really slows me down. It was difficult to breathe and I felt like I started to sweat just getting out of my car. All in all, not a bad run for me. My average pace was 11’12”, and given those weather conditions, and the fact that I did no walking, I would call that a victory! Physically I felt pretty good too. I drank a sip of water at every mile and that seemed to work just right for this distance. My ankle felt strong and all was good.

Why then did I feel so discouraged during the run then? Well, I got passed. A lot. I got passed by a young couple, a group of runner friends, a cross country team, an old dude, an old couple of dudes, and a handful of other “natural runner types”. Finally at one point I looked back after I heard yet another person coming up behind me, and she said, “you are fine. I’ll pass.” I immediately said, “yep, story of my life” She said something kind like, “You are doing great!” or something like that and trotted on down the trail. But it started me thinking about it. I am not a fast runner. I’m just not. I always say things like “my race, my pace” and “a mile is a mile no matter how fast you run it”, but the truth is – I would rather be fast. I would like to be the passer sometimes rather than always be the pass-ee. I would like to be able to actually have a fighting chance to place in my age group in a race sometime. I would like all these things and I was thinking about all of these things this morning on the trail. I was feeling pretty discouraged and down on my performance as a runner. These sorts of thoughts can really mess you up and send your run into a nosedive. These sorts of thoughts can trigger the negative tapes going in your head and pretty soon you are walking. And that has happened to me in the past. But today, I took it a different direction. I started reflecting on where I had come from. I started thinking about things like…

I am the girl who used to weigh 30 more pounds 5 years ago, before running changed my life.
I am the girl who hated running (and sweating) in gym class as a kid – so much so that I “forgot my gym clothes” on a regular basis.
I am the girl who would have bet money that I could/would never run a marathon.

These recollections started to shift my mental focus. Rather than wanting to trip the line of runners passing me by or flip the bird to every cheerful skinny blond with a ponytail who chirped out a “good morning” as she floated by, I honestly began to get some new perspective and let the “irritable runner Lisa” go. Well, I’m not gonna lie, the bikers with their incredibly loud and persistent little bells (seriously, a simple “on your left will do” folks) still do make me want to punch them in the face, but hey, everyone has their things, right?! No, my view from the back of the pack didn’t seem so bad anymore, compared to the alternative – NOT BEING IN THE PACK AT ALL!! So yeah, I’ll take the back of the pack anytime and twice on Sunday. Put please, just make sure there are still bananas left when I cross the finish line.