Sunday morning. Facebook status update: “@ Downsview Half/ 5k. Running everyone’s most hated distance.”
“Oh, you are just (!) running a 5k this weekend”, I”d hear people say. “Well, that’s easy for you, after you’ve done all those crazy races.”
I never know how to respond. I’ve never run an easy race. Not a single one of them was easy. They were all hard. All hard in a different way.
My first 5K was hard. I started out too fast, then faded 1km in, and struggled to maintain a reasonable pace for the rest of it.
My fastest 5K was hard. I felt like I was going to barf the whole time – just like a good fast 5K should feel. I was 4th female overall.
My first 10K was hard. I thought it would never end. I ran fast.
My first trail race was hard. It was only (!) a 5k. After running exclusively on pavement, I had no idea what hit me. Hills, roots, mud – the only words out of my mouth at the finish line were: “What the fuck just happened?”. I made podium.
My first half marathon was hard. The last 2km lasted forever. We saw the finish line and then had to make another loop all around the lake. I cried when I crossed the finish line and hugged my pace bunny.
My first triathlon was hard. Getting into a wetsuit after a recent weight gain was humiliating. And humbling. And riding an old mountain bike and being passed by every single.rider was also humiliating. And humbling.
My first obstacle race was hard. A Warrior Dash in Illinois. I wore loose cotton pants and a t-shirt, which resulted carrying about five extra pounds of mud after the first water crossing. It was blazing hot.
My first Spartan Beast was hard. I thought I was almost done, almost at the finish line, and skipped a gel. Instead, we had to climb a freaking Everest of a mountain. I bonked hard. That race almost broke me. I came second.
My first Ultra Beast was hard. Despite feeling strong on my first loop, heading out to do my second loop, away from my drop bin, away from dry clothes, and away from the finish line, to do everything I just did one more time was incredibly hard.
My first Tough Mudder was hard. I ran it with a team of 20 people. While we had a blast, it was really difficult for me not to run at my own pace, but rather at the pace of the group. I still struggle with that.
My last Tough Mudder was hard. It was freezing cold. Getting up that morning was the hardest part. I ran it solo in just over two hours. I was the first female across the finish line. A yoga student later that week approaches me, saying that he ran that Tough Mudder as well. “How was it?”, I ask. “Pretty easy”, he shrugs. “I don’t know what all the fuss is about.”. He was on course for over four hours.
If racing was easy, I wouldn’t be racing. Every single race is hard. That’s the point. They are all hard in their own way.
If you thought a race was easy, you weren’t running fast enough. Run faster. Pick another race. Pick the one that scares you. The one you are not quite sure you can do. Aim for a finish time that is just above what you know is possible. Then do the race and send me an email to tell me about how easy it was.
Something tells me I will not be getting too many emails…