As I started up the hill near mile 4, I was already a little tired. I was tempted to walk until I noticed that one of the women was someone I had run a group run with in the fall. I decided to look stronger than I feel and continue running. Several of us started chatting and one woman knew me from racing. She introduced me to her friend saying, “Amy is an amazing triathlete.” I laughed and said, “me?” For years I have participated in the Cayuga Lake Triathlon each year, but amazing is not a word that would ever come to mind. In fact, even my family struggles to say positive things about my swim portion of the event!
Yet I realized from this - we all inspire someone!
A few years ago, I beat someone in this race who usually runs faster than me. I was more concrete in my athletic thinking prior to that race and I often popped people into unchanging pace buckets - myself included. That year marked a shift in my thinking. You can train for any goal you desire. You could use a race as a tune up race, just a fun opportunity to catch up with friends, or you could be going for a PR. Today I ran because I can. I ran because it is fun to see people. I ran because this race marks the start of spring for me.
It is ok not to have a time goal. It is ok not to run your fastest race (or slowest). I have now learned to be fluid in my mindset and accept my chosen effort and results for the day and race at hand.
One of the reasons my daughter won’t sign up for this race is because she doesn’t like to run long distances without headphones. The FLRC runs say no headphones and they typically enforce this rule. However, last year they did not and I do have Aftershokz that will allow me to still hear the road as I run. I inquired via my daughter since she was talking with the RD about something else. No headphones.
I made sure to tell my colleague that he should plan on not bringing his, only to notice that so many people were plugged in. I was immediately annoyed at myself for both not taking a risk myself and advising Bill incorrectly. I didn’t see anyone get in trouble!
Scott and I both had COVID just a couple of weeks prior to this race. Now, it must be said that we were not well trained to begin with. Well, at least I wasn’t. I had a rough winter with running. I didn’t have motivation or even desire to work hard at running most of the time. I’d kept up a relatively decent level of running all things considered but it certainly wasn’t enough to do well on a half marathon. My longest run was a slow 9.6 miler with my friend Teressa the weekend before I got COVID.
So, it turned out that the Skunk Cabbage was my 2nd run back after COVID. I felt winded and un-prepared but not terrible. I did feel like I had to tell most everyone I encountered that I was recovering … but was that really why it was so hard? Not sure!!
Never Look Down
I made a promise to myself that I would never look down at my watch. Not once. No exceptions. I would run this race by feel and just accept my time for what it is. I had not properly trained and I did not deserve to have a fast race. I also was unwilling to risk injury by pushing too hard for something I was not prepared to do well on.
And you know what? I made it. I never looked down. My only regret came just under a mile out when I could hear the clock tower chiming. I knew that meant I could have actually hit the 2 hour mark if I had tried to push a bit. Nope. Today I just ran comfortably while honoring my promise to myself of “never look down.”
As the race started I eavesdropped on a conversation where a man was happily sharing that his training was “running all the time for decades.” He didn’t train per-se but he was always ready for this. Moments after hearing this, I saw Shane Eversfield on the course. Shane was my swim instructor years ago. A weekly dose of Zen and information, in swim class he taught us that we were laying myelin as we trained our bodies to swim. We were building neural pathways that our body would remember.
I realized that even if my winter training had been lackluster, I was mylenized. The best way to get better at running - RUN! While the past 2 months hadn’t been the best, I do have years of run time on my feet. My body knew what to do in this race! And, just seeing Shane on the course was inspiring for me.
Positive Peer Pressure
I really thought I could use COVID and the lack of proper training as a reason to not follow through with this race. BUT, I had talked my colleague Bill into signing up. He was also recovering from COVID. In our team meeting one day I said, “I don’t think I’m going to do it. I don’t feel ready. The forecast is not good. I don’t want to get rained on.” Scott is typically not one to back down from things but this time he agreed. But that day at our meeting, Bill said, “I’m going to do it. I don’t care about the weather or that I’m recovering. I will give it a go.” I arrived home that day and told Scott, “Well, we have to do it! Bill’s doing it. There’s no way I’m going to be able to say I wimped out if he is pushing forward.”
Scott laughed. “Really? We have to do it because Bill’s doing it?” Positive peer pressure!!
Tortoise Meets Hare
My leapfrog partner
Starting at mile 4, another woman and I leapfrogged each other on the course. She would run fast by me and then I’d catch her later when she was walking. Repeat - for 9 miles! We ended up finishing super close to each other. I nabbed a picture with her after the race.
As I neared the dreaded big last (and short) hill of the course, I saw the signs on the road for Ithaca's hashing group. Yup, they always have beer on the course. I remembered one year when I ran this with Christina and they offered mimosas! It was a high point in her run.
This year I turned down the beer, but it brought me great happiness to see them out there serving us all beer. They were energetic and inspiring on an otherwise lonely stretch of road.
Age Group 2 of 5
Gender 53 of 76
Overall 145 of 194