The above picture truly captures me in my happy place: body mid-air, arms swaying strong, relaxed posture, music pumping, hint of grimace and determination on my face as I taste the finish line just ahead. It was taken at mile 13 of the Staten Island Half Marathon last Sunday.
Ironically, I was actually quite uncomfortable: my calves started cramping around mile 11 because I was lacking salt, I was sweating so much that my glasses were fogging, my toes were starting to get a little bit numb and my brain was trying to lure me into slowing down to a more comfortable breathing pace. All that is not what was on my mind in the moment the picture happened. It’s what was in the back of my mind, trying to takeover.
What was front of mind is a very simple thought, “You are stronger than you think. The uncomfortable will pass.” I kept saying these phrases over and over again and willing my legs to go a little bit faster, my knees to lift a little bit higher, my breathing to relax. I thought of my training runs where my coach would push me to run tempo pace for miles (a much faster pace) after an easy 10 miles. Even though I was uncomfortable I knew that eventually I’d settle down and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Since January 2013 I have run five Half Marathons (13.1 miles) and all within a finish time range of 2:10-2:14. I finished the Staten Island Half in 2:04. Not a PR (Personal Record) or the sub-2 hours I so very much long to achieve and not my best Staten Island Half time (last year in 2012 I finished in 2:02) but I gave it my absolute hardest effort. Can’t ask for anything more of myself.
I realized after finishing the Staten Island Half that my legs have two marathons on them over the past year. Although I’d like to believe this fact makes me stronger, it can also make me plateau and face more muscle fatigue. (And oh have I: shins, plantar fascia, calf pains, hamstring tightening!) None of this matters. Comes with the training. I need to just stay relaxed, listen to my body, rest when I should rest during taper, believe in my strength and go as hard as I can for that finish line.
Although I’m not smiling in the above picture, a picture that truly captures my happy place, as soon as I rushed across the finish line, I was smiling ear to ear with immense satisfaction and pride. I just LOVE that finish line!