Since being finally cleared to run a few months ago, I've started running a lot. My knee is cooperating, with surprisingly little ice or Advil-- and it's cheaper than any vice worth having. Double plus, it's cheaper than therapy. But running has sort of become my escape. It's my time to think and listen to bad teenybopper music (which I pretend makes me hip. But maybe "hip" people have a better word for that? I wouldn't know...) Running is one of those things that's Saving My Life right now.
But it also reminds me that in some (many?) ways, I am my father's daughter. My dad is super competitive-- whether in his racecar (yeah, he took up being a racecar driver at age 62... that's how he rolls) or on his bike, he's gonna make sure he does whatever he can to make sure that he isn't passed. Usually running is a solo activity, which works fine for me. But a church member has invited me to be her partner in crime, and we've taken to doing 5K's together. Her husband even waits at the finish line, and cheers for me as loudly as he cheers for her. He takes pictures of me huffing and puffing across the finish line. That's kinda awesome. But even though I do the races for the fun of doing them, not because I want to win (umm... definitely still a ways away from that being a reasonable goal!), I still don't like to be passed. I still run a little faster than I probably should.
Someone told me to pick a person that is just a little faster than I am, and work to pass them. A few weeks ago, I did a race called "Night of the Ghoul" and the whole time, I followed a witch that I just couldn't pass. No really. A witch. In a tutu...
The whole time, I was thinking "Just beat the witch. BEAT the witch!" but I never did. And she was several age brackets older than I am, as if being beaten by a witch in a tutu wasn't bad enough.
She was at yesterday's race too (though perfectly normal and not witchy.) She's actually pretty nice. But she was just ahead of me again. And again, unpassable. I talked to my church friend, and realized that my friend wanted to beat the witch's time too. They are in the same age bracket, and the witch has now twice beaten her as well. So my friend and I made a pact-- that we were going to work hard enough and get fast enough that both of us beat the witch. It's nothing personal, but being beaten by people in tutus is not acceptable.
Yesterday was a hard race. It was COLD. I walked from my house to the greenway to get warmed up. I dressed well, but it was cold. I had a hard time breathing, and for the first time in a year and a half, I had shin splints. All I could think about were those months when it hurt to even walk, but I wouldn't stay off them. (I wrote about the race where I almost crawled here) I kept pushing and pushing. I had to be taught how to help them heal-- and it invovled giving up some of my favorite cute shoes. It was almost worth it to be able to walk without crying.
When I started running again, I made a promise-- I wasn't going to hurt myself. If my knee was fussy, I'd walk or wait for another day. If something felt off, I was going to take it slow and do only as much as I could without hurting something. I guess we make promises so that we have something on which to hold when things are hard. As everyone and their brother and dog was passing me yesterday, I wanted to run through the pain. I wanted to be bad and tough. I still wanted to beat the witch. But I remembered my promise-- and I fought hard to keep it. Today it's ice and Advil-- and despite it being a gorgeous blue sky day, no running.
Maybe it is indeed possible to teach an old dog new tricks. Or maybe I realize I'll never be able to beat the witch if I'm hurt ;-)