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Like taking a retired greyhound to a racetrack

Posted Sep 03 2009 11:21am

So the other night I had a blazing fast run. When I say blazing fast, here are my splits from Claude,

6:51

6:58

7:10

6:41

Now, before you all comment and tell me how fast that is and how great I am, which is totally not true, I want to discuss how I can run that fast and how I view the marathon and some other racing things that I just feel like I have to talk about. So maybe you know this, maybe you don’t, but I ran cross country, played soccer and ran track in the spring. I was fast in high school, and really worked hard to get faster, and be the best that I could be, and even know, looking back I know I could have gone faster. I have a box of medals that sits in my closet and every time I take it out and look at them all I think to myself that it seems so long ago that I got all those medals, but I remember all the hard work that I poured into each race. Some people don’t understand running. Every single one of my friends in high school was a cheerleader, and I was the ’sporty one’, and even then, was running a sport? The fastest time I ran in high school was 19:56 on a super flat fast course at the end of the season my junior year. I would never trade cross country for anything and that season I was on fire and I truly loved racing. That being said, when I run short distances, like the four miler I did Wednesday night, I can force myself to run it like my coach is right on my tail screaming at me like he used to. I was trained for four years to run all out for 3-5 miles on our ‘faster’ days during training. I was trained to know how hard I can push myself and how fast I can go.

During track it was the same thing, I ran the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, the 4×4 and sometimes the mile. I trained my butt off to go to CIF and big meets and did fairly well, but it was the same mentality of the coaches breathing down my neck and making me go faster than I thought I could. I think having that instilled in me makes me able to pull something out of nowhere and hustle for those shorter distances that I run now. I also think upping my mileage has made a big difference in my speed. I can still feel the coaches pushing me on those runs. Maybe it’s just in my blood but I contribute most of it to those training seasons in high school.

Now, some of you see these numbers and immediately think I can run that fast for long periods of time. NOT TRUE. I was DYING after this run. I was shaky and breathing so hard and my little heart was pounding so hard I thought it would explode. I can’t run like that for more than four miles. It’s SO fast, it really is, especially for me. My legs were barely functioning once I got home as well. It’s NOT easy for me, and I couldn’t run any farther at that pace at all.

I do think I can run this fast because of my past running experiences in high school. When I run like this it’s really all just mental. I am literally yelling at myself in my head just like my coach used to in high school. There are a string of explicit words directed at myself, me talking to myself and telling myself I CAN do this, and then me yelling at myself to push through and keep going. I just keep thinking about the time on Claude ticking down, and how many more ‘laps’ around the track it is.  That’s how I spent a lot of my ‘high school life’ training, running and pushing my body. When I run these shorter distances, it’s like I can tap into those same feelings and push myself like how my coaches taught me to. It’s definitely not something I can do every time I go out and run, nor something that I want to do every time when I go out and run, BUT  every now and then it feels so stinkin’ good to just go and kill myself and run as hard and as fast as I can, just like I did in high school.

I’m making a weird analogy here, but it’s like comparing myself to a greyhound. A greyhound knows how to race, and I’m pretty sure if you took a  retired greyhound to a racetrack, it would get all ansty in it’s pansty and want to race again. It’s like the sights and the smells would all come back to him, and off he would go down the track, just like he used too. I get those same feelings. I think about three miles, and think this is short, this is just like high school. You can do this. Let’s see how fast you can do it. How fast can you go today? What can you do today? Then before I know it I’m checking off the miles and pushing myself beyond my limits and it’s exhilarating.

I remember when I was a cross country coach for a high school program my senior year in college. I remember the first race we went too, it was a huge night race. I hadn’t been to a race since I stopped racing in high school. I remember our girl was running in the big sweepstakes race because she was really fast, and I got her all ready to go and prayed with her at the starting line and then told her some words of wisdom (? weird right!) and then I took off to go get her splits at other locations along the course, first I wanted to watch the start though. As I watched all the girls lined up with their school colored fabric bows in their hair, and their brand new racing flats, their uniform tops tucked in, their ponytails bobbing as they were closely huddled together, I almost started crying. Once the gun went off, my heart skipped a beat and my eyes teared up. All the love for running I had came back to me and I knew one day I would race again soon. I knew I HAD to race again and shortly after that season was over and I graduated from college, I signed up for my first half marathon, in Long Beach.

Every now and then when I pull out those splits it hurts but it feels so good. I can feel my coach yelling at me, I can see the finish line and the crowds in the stands just like at the track meets. I can see the little flags dotting the finish chute and I feel the same pains my body experienced in high school. The exhaustion, the dry lips, my heart pounding, my legs aching, my arms reaching for the finish line,  my nose running, the sweat dripping down my face and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

xoxo

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