The only expectation for the half-marathon was to run 13.1 miles.
As soon as the race began, I sensed that something was out of sync. My watch further confirmed I was in for an unpleasant run given the pace I was putting forth. The following soliloquy played out during my 13.1 mile production:
“You are such a loser. You inspire no one. Here you go with more excuses. Do you really believe anybody even believes you are a runner? There’s nothing impressive about what you do. Give it up. You are a joke. You are a mere speck of sand in the desert. Your existence does not make a difference in the hands of time.”
“Wow! It’s July the 4th and you are participating in an event that you absolutely love on a day you absolutely love! The sun is shining brightly, and it’s the perfect temperature. More importantly, you are a healthy woman with two beautiful healthy daughters, and a loving, patient, faithful, and supportive husband. When the half is over, you’ll get to enjoy food and fireworks. You are beyond blessed and have so much to be thankful for.”
“You have put in very few running miles since your last half-marathon in June. It’s illogical to expect the same results when you’ve put in less training. You can’t beat yourself up over something that you can improve. Plus, this is one of the many races you’ve done and yet to do. Do your best. Shake it off. Move on. Train better for your next race and you’ll see the results.”
I’ve got to admit that when a situation does not go the way I plan, I immediately gravitate towards the self-loathing and cruel, negative put-downs. Reading what I say to myself is so hurtful. In fact, I don’t think I could ever say any of those cruel words to someone I love or care for! How could I possibly be so hurtful towards my own-self? I’m my own worst-critic. I beat anyone to the punch when it comes to putting my own self down. And you know what, I make my own self cry!
During the run, I made every attempt possible to drown out the negative thoughts with positive ones. I reminded myself how blessed I am, and how millions of people would be willing to trade places with me in a heartbeat in order to leave behind their painful and or oppressive circumstances. The negative thoughts weighed my body down like a ton of bricks. They impacted my form, my breathing, and my entire body. It wasn’t until I tugged hard and long enough to let the positive thoughts take over that my body felt at ease. I crossed the finish line fatigued not from the distance I run, but from the mental battle I endured.
I don’t know that the “optimist” face will ever be my initial go to face, but like any other challenge in life, I’m determined to make myself a better person. And this is part of my running journey after all. It’s not just about being physically faster, or stronger, but about the mental adversity I endure when fast becomes relative because I am getting older. Or stronger becomes relative because of injuries or illness. It’s about always crossing the finish line no matter how challenging the terrain becomes, or how ugly the voices in my head are. It’s about transforming my inner vessel. The physical transformation is only a bonus, but not the main gift of the transformation.
How do you respond to adversity? Do you gravitate towards the pessimist, optimist, or realist face?