When Charles Dickens wrote “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, I believe he was referring to cross-country running.
Cross is a rather brutal sport. Marathoners and milers converge in the grass and mud to trade speed and guts for glory. In a rare occurrence, I raced the xc club national meet with 3 family members, my mother, my aunt and my sister. Sharing the struggle with women I love made the pain more meaningful somehow.
Standing on a starting line with 500 women was terrifying and while the smoke from the gun still hung in the air, I blasted forward into the lead group. I was so afraid of being swallowed by the masses in the first mile that I sprinted as hard as I could, sure everyone else was doing the same. By the time the group began to string out, I knew I’d overdone it and began to fade. As the kilometers passed, I fell out of the top 10, out of the top 15, out of the top 20 and by the time I went through the 5k mark I realized that I’d run a 5k in the middle of the marathon faster than 5k of this 6k race.
The one good thing I have to say about my race is that I rallied. I ran the final kilometer faster than I’d ever run a kilometer before, fought through to the finish and didn’t give an inch more than I had to during the final few minutes.
This weekend made me realize that I miss the marathon and cannot wait to move back up to the longer distance. I prefer the drawn-out, comfortable uncomfortability of the marathon to the searing brevity of cross-country.
It was, however, impossible to stay defeated as I watched the Zap men demolish the competition and claim the national title and the $5,000 prize. I have so much pride in my team and consider it an honor to display a loud Reebok/Zap Fitness logo along with the rest of them.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the things in life that matter. No, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether I win a race or take 23rd or 223rd. It’s just running. But, the character and strength that I build when I finish a race that tears my body and heart to shreds…that matters. I want to be hearty. I want to be a woman of strength and substance and unshakable character, and running is growing me in that direction. Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that your racing and training don’t matter. Putting one foot in front of the other is not just running, it is also growth.