It’s not okay

As the end of the year approaches it used to be popular to make resolutions. One year my mom made the best resolution I have ever heard. This was like 10+ years ago, and she kept it! Want to know what it was? She resolved to never wear uncomfortable shoes again. I thought it was genius, what a win win, no guilt, good for the feet, doable, and involves shoe shopping. Whenever I try on shoes I always think about my mom, and wonder if they would pass her comfort test. Life is too short to have uncomfortable shoes.

Resolutions are passé. Nobody on my Facebook timeline or my Twitter feed seem to be making them. All I’m seeing is a whole lot of “2012 rocked, here’s to an even better 2013” or “change the world” or “follow you dreams” or “dream big” or “get after it.” Then there is the usual I started the new year by: biking XXX, running XXX, swimming XX,XXX x 100. You name it. It’s all awesome stuff. I kid you not, I think it’s amazing that my social media is full of this sort of stuff and not cat pictures, or politics, or weather (although there is a decent amount of weather on there at times).

But I must admit, all this “just be better” talk wasn’t really getting me too hyped for the change in calendar.  I felt a bit lost, a bit underwhelmed by the holiday. I wrote a note on Facebook to my athletes detailing what my hopes were in 2013 for each of them. That felt good, I love coaching my ponies. But I couldn’t have written one for myself, other than something like:

do some stuff less, do other stuff more. Illuminating, I know.

For some unknown reason, I signed up to run a New Years 5K today. I assumed that I would drag Michelle to race, and maybe some of my athletes, and a friend or two. My goal was to get a little group together for a fun New Years 5K. Didn’t really come close to that goal, and was painfully aware of that fact when I pulled into the parking lot this morning, alone, without even Troy or Annie.

Best race goodie bag I have ever seen though! Hundreds of handmade mugs, each one different, filled with goodies. I almost thought “I’ve got my mug, I can just go home now and not race! I’ve got some great tea to go in this mug” (Thank you Ellen).

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I haven’t raced this distance in over 3 years. I’ll admit it, I was excited about it. I went out for a warm up and was back at the car approximately 90 seconds later for 3 more layers. It was freezing, 12 degrees when I left the house. I strapped on my Garmin, turned it on, dead. Okay! I think this is the second race in 6 years I would do without a watch. I thought to myself  “Okay, so this is how 2013 is going to go”, big sigh.

I got myself to the start line in one piece and actually warmed up. I shed some layers and waited those few miserable moments until we lined up and went off. I was in the front, and the funny thing about a 5k is that you know the basic finishing order 100 yards into the race. It’s immediately apparent who your competition is. Very unlike triathlon where sometimes you don’t even know that someone is ahead of you and has been since the swim.

So we get sent off and it’s apparent that it will be just two of us going for the W. We run side by side for a little and I am painfully aware of her long stride and my short bulldog cadence. Around 0.25 mile I pull in front through a narrow section. From then until the turn around I remember nothing but heavy cold legs and a gray view filled with the steam from my rapid breathing. The words in my head were silent. I had nothing, but foot falls and expiration.

At the turn around it became obvious that I had all of a 5 stride lead. Something than can be erased with any sort of effort and by mile 2 I heard her effort behind me and then next to me, and then watched her run on ahead.

I hate being passed. Don’t we all? Whether it’s running around Wash Park, on the Highline, at the track, or in a race. When someone goes by it’s an instant trigger for the brain to start spewing a shit-ton of verbal diarrhea. I think that you can probably predict athletic success based simply on what your brain spews when you are passed. Who needs Vo2 tests, or metabolic efficiency, or FTP, or time trials? Brain diarrhea is probably a better indicator than any of those.

My brain diarrhea has changed through the years. Back in 07 it started out pretty negative (you’re not good enough, you’re still too fat, you just started this, she looks experienced). Then through the years it morphed as my confidence grew (go after it, go get her, pull back, rest, and attack, you can do this, so-and-so is watching). As of recent, my brain talk has morphed yet again. It’s more in the give up mode now (you’re okay, that’s okay, 2nd is okay). A lot of race day “okays” have yielded a pretty disappointing year. Regardless of fitness, I didn’t go to the well this year, I was “okay” a lot of the time.

So when she passed, there it was in my brain. The literal nonstop blither of how good she looked, how strong she was, how I was going to lose this race, how I went out too fast, how my legs were heavy, how hard I was breathing. It all just rushed in. I thought about telling Troy I got 2nd and hearing him say “Great job honey.” I heard the excuses come out my mouth to him “Boy it was cold, she was young, and fast, I just couldn’t quite hang, it’s January, not a big deal”.

I ran on, watched her just 10 steps ahead negotiating the course, listening to my brain, damn it’s loud.

We went over a little bridge and this very tiny, and I mean VERY tiny voice said to me “But it’s 2013.” I let that voice get louder and it said “Aren’t you tired of being okay, don’t you remember that the disappointment of 2nd hurts, that it sticks with you, that it never really feels okay afterwards.” And I felt it, I felt the sting of it and I had a flash of the 2nds of my past. My tiny voice grew louder and it said “Not in 2013. Not to start 2013, damn it girl RUN…RUN RUN RUN.” The bumper sticker of the lady parked in front of me in the parking lot flashed in my vision.

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I stood up straight, I pulled in my core, I thought of all the time I’ve been spending in the weight room to get stronger. I thought about my trainer, Jen, she makes us do these strange running exercises that I can’t even explain and they popped in my brain at that moment. I picked up my feet like she’s made me do, and I sprinted.

33 year old mom of 1, just letting it all go and sprinting as hard as I knew how, as fast as I could muster.  I bridged the gap, and I pulled ahead by a single step. Surely this young gazelle will be coming with me, her life and experiences in their infancy, her zest for life so fresh.

But this old bulldog is not having it, not today, not in 2013, not in 2013. I’ve laid down and rolled over enough and I’m done with it. I never let up, and I smeared myself out there 100%. The only thing that was okay at that moment was the effort, making the effort, the intention behind my soul.

I am the proud new owner of a gift certificate for a new pair of shoes.

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I don’t care about the shoes. It’s not about the shoes. None of this stuff is about the shoes, the bowls, the free tacos. It’s not about who your sponsors are, or whose recovery boots you sit in. It’s not about that. When it is, then I assure you that your brain diarrhea is headed towards toxicity. It’s about the voice between the ears, and for me, about the little voice that came out today. I’ve missed her so terribly, and honestly, I kinda forgot she existed. She has been really quiet for some time.

So, 2013, I have no resolutions for you. I’m not going to tell others to do better, be better, act better (Except my athletes…they don’t count). I’m not going to spew my training log on social media. I’m not going to talk about what I’m going to do.

I’m just going to go do it.