As I've mentioned before, I'm a member of the L.U.N.A.R (Lace Up Now and Run) group online. Yesterday I posted a bit of self-loathing, and got rightfully walloped.
Other runners don't care if you have a bad run. They do care if you beat yourself up over it.
Hating on yourself is stupid.
But we do it all the time. We all have bad days where we feel disappointed in ourselves. And runners have bad days too. Due to injuries, or the weather, or because their cat barfed on their shoes, or just because no-reason-go-away-let-me-be-miserable-in-peace.
And my bit of angst was especially dumb. I ran a 5k yesterday as part of my training run and did it in a snail paced - GASP! - 20 minutes and 37 seconds. And I was mad at myself because I had tried beating my personal record of 20:10. Nevermind that record was set at an actual race with other racers and lots of energy. Nevermind that I had fresh legs on that day, but was pretty sore from months of marathon training yesterday. Nevermind that running circles on a track all alone after a long day of work is a lousy way to set records.
And it was downright insulting really. I posted the pic below with the caption "Tried and failed to beat my 5K PR of 20:10. I suck at life. Will prolly fail to beat my marathon PR at wineglass too." If you don't know, my last marathon almost killed me. But it was insulting because there are plenty of runners in the group who would murder a kitten if it would get them a 20:37 5k time. And here I am bitching about how slow that is. If I'm ready to end my life over a sub 21 minute 5k, how is someone who runs a half hour 5k supposed to feel?
|Waaaah... I'm sooooo slow. Just a fat slow jerk.|
Not only do I make them feel bad, but it hurts their motivation and maybe makes them think twice about posting their speeds. Which is really unfair. Every runner, no matter their level, is amazing. And running isn't a competition. Even a "race" isn't a competition. Running is about doing something that's very hard and very painful and doing it every day. Not because you're trying to prove anything. But because you're not willing to settle for the scraps life is willing to give you. You go out and conquer the world, because you deserve nothing less. And whether it takes you 20 minutes to conquer the world or 30, that shit is still conquered as heck.
After posting that weep-thetic note, you might expect the others to say, "you sir are quite astute; you are slower than a dead skunk. And just as smelly." Or maybe they'd be a little encouraging and say, "maybe you'll suck less next time, but lay off the couch and ice cream." But no, instead they told me to quit my bitching. That I was fast. That I should shut up and keep kicking ass. And it made me feel better in about a minute and a half. It also made me feel like a douchebag fishing for compliments. But mostly it made me feel better.
Those LUNARites weren't going to let me get hung up on a bad run (which wasn't even bad, really). They know that running is a lifelong passion, and any one run is just a drop in the sweat filled bucket of your running career. You could break your hip in a tragic pogo accident and barely remember it a couple years later. I jumped out of a tree once like a fat kid pretending to be superman and broke my foot. Being a little slow on a run isn't nearly so bad. And I barely remember the tree incident, because I block out all memories from before 5 minutes ago. I recall it being pretty hilarious at the time though.
|Am I on fire? Whatever, I can still run.|
Most of us have many challenges in life. I don't actually know anyone who spends their life sipping champagne on private jets and lounging naked on far-flung beaches while money magically appears in their coffers. I do know lots of people who work full time while raising kids while fighting off bird flu or f#*king whatever and still manage to run despite their leg getting mauled by a vicious chipmunk the previous day. These people are superheros. And despite the fact that they probably run out of motivation by about 8:45 every morning, they still manage to send good vibes to a fellow runner who is suffering. Hell, they'll even send those vibes to undeserving assholes like me who somehow find hours to spend on the couch with Coors Light.
|I actually drink these two at a time.|
What defines runners is that we're experts at pushing ourselves beyond the limits of other mere mortals. To an extent it's understandable if we get down on ourselves, exactly because we hold ourselves to such high standards. But it's just as important for us to have a supportive community, if not more so. We're the Justice League, and very few of us get to be Batman. Most of us will eventually go too far, too hard. And then we'll need a friend to pick us up and say, "you're fine, stop whining; it's only a flesh wound."
So this post is an apology to L.U.N.A.R. for being a jackwad, and more importantly, a thank-you for inspiring and pushing me every day to keep on running. Every day I want to quit and instead really pursue my dream of being a world class alcoholic. But I wouldn't let just myself down. I would let down all the other runners who get up while the badgers still own the land. I would let down the runners who run when the weatherman says, "stay inside if you don't want to die." I would let down the runners who tell their 11 year old kid, "just.... take the car. Go to McDonalds. Mommy has to run." You can see how much I know about parenting.
I used to believe I was Batman. I wanted to be Batman. Not literally. Well....
But every year that I grow older, I realize how much I value the people in my life. My family, my friends, my wild elfen mistress of badassery, Pixie. The folks who read my bullshit (Pixie says my posts are waaay too long... but, but, search engines!). And L.U.N.A.R. When Geoffrey invited me to join, he didn't tell me that I would suddenly have a thousand friends to dust off my sore ass after I tripped on a curb ("who the hell keeps putting these things around town?!") But now I can't imagine myself without all that love, energy, and support. Thank-you.
|And now, by request...|
Photo cr. Marc Ryan