I’m going to say something that sounds pretty horrible and bitchy: I totally got a boost from another runner’s pain on my run today.
To back up a bit. My first run since the marathon was a week ago today. I intended to return to regular running last week, but….um, yeah. Didn’t really happen. I was pretty good about going to the gym and such, but just couldn’t muster any enthusiam to lace up my running shoes and head outside.
Today, I got a brand new pair of running shoes in the mail. It piqued my interest just enough. I decided it was time to suck it up and go for an actual, real run instead of copping out and heading to the elliptical.
So out I headed to Hudson Park, my normal running course. Through the village, across the west side highway, along the riverfront and past the marina to a certain set of benches; turn around, repeat in reverse. Five miles, roundtrip.
I’ve done enough marathons to know that I shouldn’t expect much of myself for those few weeks after the race. I don’t know whether it’s mostly physical or mental, but I’m always just….sluggish. Today was no exception. I plodded along, silently pouting. New shoes or not, I felt like crap. This was NOT fun.
As I hit those particular benches that mark my halfway point, I let out a frustrated huff. Halfway? Really? Do I HAVE to run back? Ugh.
But then I heard a huffing and puffing that was far more pronounced than my own. A girl, about my same size and build, came plowing around the corner and swept past me along my intended route. I sized her up. She seemed to be going about the same pace that I had been running – or maybe just a little faster – and she was WORKING it.
Eff that, I thought, and set out after her.
And this is what I usually mean when I say I’m a competitive person. I am most certainly not out there winning races every weekend. I’m not even in that realm! But I will be damned if this random person on this random run is going to run by me and “beat” me!
It took me a several minutes to catch her. But as I slowly narrowed the gap between us, I stopped looking at my watch every minute and agonizing over how many minutes until home. I stopped cursing every step and bemoaning my leaden legs.
As I passed her, I could hear her short, breathy gasps and her shoes slapping the pavement quickly and forcefully. This girl was not just out for a run – she was running. She was working hard and she was NOT feeling good. Believe me – there is not an ounce of judgment here; I have totally been there. I was impressed.
And as I slowly pulled ahead of her, I realized she was not going to let me go so easily. Gliding by her, suddenly everything felt easy. I was running far more quickly and gracefully than I had been before – and it felt effortless.
But the slap-slap-slap and the labored breaths of my competitor stayed with me. I have to give this girl a ton of credit – for the remaining mile of my run on the park path, she remained right on my tail, her footfalls churning faster as I continued to push the pace. I could hear miniscule little moans interspersed in her breathing. She was giving it her all.
As I split off to cross back over the highway and weave my way through village streets toward home, part of me wanted to stop and give her a hug. Even though as I targeted and challenged her – I admit, my primary motivating was wanting to beat her. She made my workout infinitely better, and I hope I did the same for her.
If nothing else, I’ll have that random girl to thank when, as I lace up my running shoes tomorrow, I feel energized and excited about running again.
Today’s EAT: Dinner was a mishmash of leftovers from yesterday’s dinner at Ping’s in Chinatown. Oh, and I found an awesome new lunch place near my apartment today – a tiny little coffee/sandwich shop called Local. I had a ham, fig and fresh mozzeralla sandwich. Divine.
Today’s DRINK: Hubs and I are splitting a bottle of clearance-rack Rosemount Chardonnay. The pleasure factor is about what it cost, which is to say, not much. When will I learn not to buy sale rack wine??
Today’s RUN: See above. Ended up doing 5 miles in just over 41:00, but my pace was much faster during the second half of the run!