Tomorrow is Pat's Run. I registered for Pat's Run just after I had the Color Run under my belt. I was a C25K graduate and was feeling positive and optimistic. I was running 3 miles in January, so I figured by the middle of April I could pretty easily get up to 4.2.
For the month after the Color Run, I trained. I wasn't quite working the bridge to 10k training I'd hoped to follow, but I was running and it felt good to keep going. And then, late February and early March happened. And it looked like this: DC for work Feb. 24 - 29. Home and hit with a bad cold March 1 - 3. Baltimore for a training March 4-6, still with the cold. That cold hung around for well over 3 weeks, a time during which I did attempt some running unsuccessfully.
And the next thing I knew? It was April and I was 3 weeks out from the run. And wouldn't you know the mere 3 weeks left to train intimidated me straight into inaction. I DID run in April...once? twice? But I most decidedly didn't even come close to prepping to run 4.2 miles. Shoot...at this point I'm not sure I could revisit a 5k successfully.
So back and forth I went in my mind. One day, I was going to buckle down and start waking at 5 am to run. Dammit, I was going to get OUT there, no matter whether I could only put out a mile or I managed more than 3. And then I realized how dark and, well, early 5 am really was. So I thought about going back to nighttime running, but between late bedtimes and nutso work schedules, my plan to have the kids in bed by 8:30 and be out running by 8:40 usually ended up being closer to kids in bed before 9 and me searching for my ear buds still at 9:15. And then I'd get frustrated. And pissed. And I'd be bitter because dammit I know it's important to keep moving. It's good for my body and my mind and my soul. But it felt like I was alone in that belief. Like no one in my family was seeing or appreciating how much I needed to get out there and run. To be fit. To be strong. To train for this race. To be healthy. To not quit, because once you quit going back is the hardest part.
Of course I told my husband this. And, of course, because I am such a passive aggressive asshole sometimes, I let it stew until one day I blew up at him. My alarm went off at 5 and I hit snooze - twice. And he was pissed. Seething. Because as soon as that happened the under-5 set in our house was awake and then HE was awake and meanwhile I'd hit snooze and passed the fuck out. So the next thing I knew he was doing the whole, "If you don't want to get up and run please just shut off your alarm. It goes off two or three times and we're all awake an hour before we need to be!" only when he said it I swore it was something more like, "You lazy fat bastard, if you can't haul your flabby white ass out of this bed to get 20 minute of cardio in the morning you are really a bigger sack of worthless, bloated shit than I'd previously realized and I'm disgusted by you. Pig bitch."
I never claimed not to be defensive and somewhat overly self-critical.
Look, I knew rationally what he meant, but in my head I'd been self loathing and belittling myself for weeks. Talking myself up to get out there and run, and then falling apart. Once even trying to run and feeling my legs turn to cod livers as I stumbled back home, leaned into the side of our van and buried my face in my arms to cry, then calming myself outside for 10 more minutes so my husband wouldn't have to know I'd barely made it around the block. Making deals with myself. Telling myself how great I would feel after. Telling myself how shitty I would feel not-after, if I didn't go. And just generally reconvincing myself of every damn lie I ever told myself about what I am or am not capable of with this awkward, pasty, chubby, pink-ankled, fat thighed body nature chose for mocking me.
And so I might have blown up at him that morning and then felt like shit later. And we might have talked and made up but there, bubbling under the surface was every bit of insecurity and disbelief in myself I'd ever had, like a thousand fucking voices of a thousand girls who are prettier and thinner and just plain better than I am and I could not for the life of me figure out how to shut it all off. I surely didn't just put on my damn running shoes and tough that shit out to push past it. Instead, I burrowed into my home and retreated into my body because I know every lump and bump and unappealing body part well enough to be able to criticize myself without even having the self-respect to put any enthusiasm into it. When you're spent your whole life thinking of a thousand things wrong with your love handles, after all, you're going to one day realize that it doesn't even take any real effort to remember how ugly they are and what a miserable fuck of a human being that makes you, all around.
So then suddenly it was this morning and I walked into my office at work and there was my boss, making a joke about the race shirts for this weekend's race and it hit me that I had managed to completely shut my brain off and pretend that the race isn't this weekend. And if my boss hadn't also registered to run it and had she not mentioned the shirts then said something to the effect of how we (co-worker and I, who registered together) were 'quitters' if we didn't at least go walk it, I might have pranced right through this weekend ignoring Pat's Run facebook posts and letting my mind pretend I forgot. When really...I knew. I knew, you know? I knew.
Being wishy-washy about the whole thing herself, my co-worker sort of had me convinced to skip the run. I mean...who really cared, right? Our money will go to charity no matter what, and why battle traffic and people and logistics just to say we did it if we're not ready and we're not in it, heart and body? Right?
But then, we decided we sort of wanted those silly race shirts and I figured maybe I could just stop and get our packets on the way home and then we could skip it. Right? We could totally skip this thing and who would care anyhow and we might feel guilty but who would care? Really? Who?
She called me as I was driving home from picking up the packets. After a text I sent to her that 99 other people would read as "Convince me I need to run tomorrow and not skip this race seeing as how I'm not properly trained and it's going to be hot!" (because, I mean...that is what it said) and she read it as, "You need to call me now. YOU because YOU are the person I texted because YOU and only YOU will know exactly what my mind and my self esteem and many years of internal voices telling me I can't run unless someone is chasing me and I'm too fat and and and and is doing to me and YOU can help. Can't you please help?"
So she called and we talked and she let me decide not to run and she didn't judge me and then I was crying. Crying because -fuckall!- who WOULD care is me and why it DOES matter is me too. I am why and I am who and suddenly we were talking about something different. This wasn't about well should I or shouldn't I and can I or not. It wasn't that at all anymore. Suddenly a switch flipped and I realized there was no other option. There was no yes or not there was just the need to do this thing. The need to get out there and suffer. And know I might not run it all...or much of it, even. I won't have a good race time. I won't beat any records or surprise myself with how 4 weeks of utterly and complete sloth status magically transformed me into a natural and gazelle-like runner. And I'm probably going to be pissed at myself and disappointed and THAT IS THE POINT.
That is the point.
The point is to be that. And to experience that. To live it and to remember it and to USE it to motivate me. The point is that I'm probably going to hate parts of tomorrow's run. The parking. The mass of people. The burning lungs at 5 minutes in and the legs on fire at 12. The feeling that I am going to stop running and just trudge myself down into a puddle of sweat and goo and they will find me later, buried under plastic drink cups from the water stations and no one will know I've gone missing anyhow. The finish line, so damn far away and past so many hills and people. I'm going to fail at it all. I am going to hate it and wonder what the hell is wrong with me and wish I was at home in bed or laying on the couch with my kids or any-damn-where but there, in that moment. And I am going to go through that and then on the other side will be...what? A moment of satisfaction? Elation? An epiphany wherein I decide to dedicate my life to running?
Doubtful. On the other side, I think, of tomorrow's run will be this: the knowledge that I didn't prepare and I let my mind psyche my body out and that I did it anyway. That even when I know it's going to be hard and suck and I'm going to dread it, I am the kind of person who does it anyhow.