I mentioned in my last post that the first race memory I have is from when I was 13 (Katie here!).
My middle school hosted a Turkey Trot every year as a fundraiser for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Each year, my mom would give me my required dollar donation, I would get changed in the locker room and go and run my heart out.
All I remember from sixth and seventh grade was having that burning sensation in my lungs after the race from running fast breathing in cold air.
Wait, I also remember something from seventh grade. When it was time to change into my running clothes, my friends trying to convince me to stay inside. See if you weren’t running the race you had the option of staying in your warm classroom with a designated teacher.
I just remember hemming and hawing. Debating the pros of getting to hang out with them for two hours without a teacher telling us to stop talking with the pros of running the race. I vividly remember shaking my head no and going to get changed: my mom had come to cheer me on, and I was a RUNNER. I wasn’t a wimp who stayed inside because it was cold. Some decisions I look back on and think “Oh my. Why did I choose that?” But this is one of the opposite moments where I look back and think “Thank God I had my priorities straight.”
But the Turkey Trot race I remember the most was in 8th grade when I was 13.
I remember getting changed then heading outside where some of the other 8th graders were selling hot chocolate as a fundraiser.
I remember thinking I was glad I was running.
I remember finding my mom to say hi before the race started.
I remember going to the starting line: a slight incline behind the school before the course headed down, around the track, onto to the road, down back around the schools, and ending again on the track.
I stood there waiting to begin with my friend Alycia who asked if I wanted to place or if we could run together.
“Oh I don’t know” I said. “I want to run as fast as I can I guess”.
I was lying. Completely lying.
Of course I wanted to place. Did I have any chance of doing so? Uh no! But it didn’t mean I wasn’t going to try.
To this day, I STILL do this. It will be before a race and someone will ask me “So are you going for a time goal?” or “How fast do you think you’ll run it?”
And I’ll shrug and say “I don’t know. Maybe like 24 minutes.” or “I don’t know. I just want to try my hardest.”
When in reality I have VERY clear A, B, and C goals in my head. The only reason I do this (because I don’t like to think of myself who deliberately lies to people she loves and who she is friends with) is as a stress coping mechanism.
Sure I’ve already fantasized about my results. I’ve visualized my finish line. I’ve decided my time goals. But I’m sure as hell not telling you! Because it already stresses me out enough and I HATE feeling like there are outside expectations or that I will disappoint someone. Ridiculous I know.
Anyways! Back to the race. I remember starting the race, running as fast as I could, feeling the burning sensation in my lungs, and crossing the finish line.
“8:30” the teacher who was manning the finish called out.
I glanced ahead of me at the line of other students getting their finishers ribbons and milling around. I estimated I had finished in about 100th place. I remember finding my mom by the finish line where she took a picture of me with my ribbon. I remember going back to the locker room and changing into my pink sweater and skirt. I remember almost barfing and my friend Jessica asking if I was okay. I nodded yes. Yes I was okay. The burning lung feeling was the worse it had been but I was most definitely okay.
And I was pretty darn proud of myself.
See, I KNEW I wouldn’t place. No way. I never really ran other than in the summer during impromptu foot races from telephone pole to telephone pole with my family and for the mile in PE.
But during the race,I ran my absolute hardest.
If I had been running leisurely with my friend but had been in the top 25 or ran leisurely and been in the very back of the pack (there were probably about 300-400 students in the race) then I would have been mad at myself.
Because in either scenario I would have ALWAYS wondered could I have run faster? Could I have placed? Since I really didn’t try, how could I really know what I was capable of?
I still treat races the same way today. It’s mind boggling to me people who sign up for races and run them like they would a regular run. It’s a RACE! When I don’t give 100% effort I just feel like I am cheating myself.
From 13 to 25, I really have not changed. Sure I’ve gotten a bit faster. And I run a bit more than I did then. But my mentality of being a runner? Exactly the same.
And I’m pretty darn proud of that.