Before I accepted the invitation to run in the Big Sur Half Marathon, in those moments of "I can't" I had a conversation with a friend. She listened to all my reasons for why I did not want to and could not run that far. I didn't want to feel like a third wheel to the two friends running it that are current running partners. That changed once I found out that I have a whole bunch of friends entered in this race. Then I told her how I enjoyed my trail runs, how running was about fitness and a great 'escape' for me. Being out on the trail is kind of like a reset button. I didn't want it to become about competition, about checkpoints and tracking, training. Really, I didn't want to be compared to runners that are faster than me.
Then (for reasons explained in Phoenix Rising post) I accepted my friends invitation. I began research on how to train for a half marathon. I researched how to avoid injury. I studied training schedules and came up with one for myself. It is designed simply to get me across the finish line, with no concern for a race time (advised for first time racers). Because the race is flat I have to train on flat. I'm not a fan of concrete running (not because it's bad for the joints though, mostly because I find it boring and repetitive. Unlike the ups, downs, twists and turns of a hilly trail. And I loathe car exhaust fumes!).
But I realize that running has become something different for me now. I have always mapped out mileage and I am competitive enough to want to cover familiar ground with more ease or faster times. But my runs were never more than 3.5 miles. When I ventured out for 5+ miles it became a hike or bike ride. The truth is I am breaking boundaries now. It may not seem like much but now that I have run 7 flat miles I look at trail maps and look for longer loops that I want to explore. I find myself looking forward to the freedom I will have after the race is over. At that time I will have run 13 miles in one go. I don't know what that will feel like or how far will feel comfortable but I now like the idea that I have new possibilities!
I am training towards a specific goal. But the truth is I am changing what I believe I can do. It has nothing to do with being compared to faster runners. It's about challenging my body and my mind. A world of possibilities is opening for me. And I like that.