Ready To Win!
by Carolyn Guhman
I have a race this Sunday, January 19, 2014. It is the Louisiana Half Marathon in Baton Rouge. And I am going to win! It has already been decided!
A couple of weeks ago I had a really bad race. It was a 10 miler in the cold, in the wind. Looking back on it, I had decided before I even got up that morning, that it was going to be a bad race. I could see myself struggling with the cold and wind in the few days before the race. I suffered defeat before I ever laced up my shoes.
And I got what I expected. My legs felt like lead for the first six miles and I walked in the last four. Thinking back on it I can see myself, hunched over, defeated, miserable for two hours and thirty eight minutes.
In longer races our race director gives the racewalkers, fitness walkers and slower runners the opportunity to have an early gun time so that everyone finishes in time to enjoy the festivities of a post-race party in New Orleans. I accepted the early start, gave my number to the lady who was recording those that did and took my place at the line. I heard the racewalkers talking about their paces and I knew that I was going to be the last of even this group. So I didn’t even try. I expected nothing–and I got it.
As soon as the race director shouted “Go!” I settled in to where I expected to be. I let everyone pass me and I just struggled along…evenly set intervals at first, longer walk intervals as the miles ticked on. I knew I was going to be last. It was already decided. I just wanted to get it over with.
Eventually the faster runners passed me. They sprinted by and most didn’t even seem to notice I was there. I watched them, in awe, as they looked like a different species to me…long lean legs and arms moving in clockwork motion. I was in awe but not inspired to do better myself. I just kept plodding along accepting my fate. I am old, I am fat, I am slow, I didn’t work hard enough….I am last.
After a while the mid-pack runners passed me. They were more friendly, sometimes nodding as they passed. Some were with partners and I heard snippets of conversation. I wondered how they could talk and still run so smoothly. I was jealous as they passed me. They were mostly much younger, much fitter, much leaner. They had worked harder than I had but who could expect less? They had things I did not have. Still I just plodded along, feeling more and more deflated with each step.
Eventually the back of the pack runners passed me. These people were MUCH more friendly because they had time and most had smiles for me. One young woman startled me when she shouted out, “Keep it up, you are doing GREAT!”. I jumped a bit and looked around thinking someone else might be about to pass me too.
But there was just me and so I smiled back. A weak smile but a smile. I thought she must have thought that I had been running faster and was starting to run out of gas. Surely she didn’t know that I had been at this pace for the whole race–because, of course, I was NOT doing great. I was struggling. I was last.
When I got to the finish line one of the volunteers cheered me in. “Great job! Good time!” I winced at him and said, bluntly and matter-of-factually, “No, I had an early start.” He smiled back (a beaming smile) and said, “But did you have a GOOD TIME?”
A light bulb went off in my head! I gave HIM a real smile. And said, “Yes, I did.”
And I was telling the truth. During that two hours and thirty-eight minutes that it took me to travel ten miles, I had learned so much that it was all worth it. This bad race had happened to me for a purpose!
I thought back to the fast runners, who were thinking of only the race. I thought of how I admired them and knew that they had a talent and determination that probably were not in my reality. I thought of the mid-packers, the ones who had worked and trained and were looking for validation that they had accomplished what they had set out for. I looked back at the back-of-the-packers, the ones who were running because it was challenging but rewarding and fun in a different way. These were the ones I could most relate to.
And I looked back at myself, slumped over and defeated from the beginning. Not the wind or the cold or even my body’s capabilities had made me last. It was the self-fulfilling prophesy. Right then and there I decided that while I can handle being last again, I will not let myself lose again.
And so I set to work. I set to work to changing how I see myself as a runner. In the two weeks since that run I have been training differently. As I start out on my run, yoga or weight routine, I first decide who I am going to be today. I am NOT going to be the older, heavier, struggling woman. I am going to be strong. I am going to win. I am going to win this workout, I am going to win this race.
I am REALLY looking forward to Sunday’s race. I can’t wait to be the runner I have been visualizing for the last two weeks. I can’t wait to stand tall, to be strong, to smile. I can’t wait to win. I can’t wait for training for the next two weeks for the Rock n Roll New Orleans! I can see myself winning that one too!
And I can SEE myself telling you about those two WONDERFUL experiences next month.
I got this! Watch for it!
Carolyn Guhman is a 61 year old, retired insurance agent who is a mother of five and grandmother of six. She lives in suburban New Orleans, LA with her husband, Rick. When health issues forced her into early retirement and severe depression in 2008, she decided it was time to grab the reins of her own life. After a couple of years of trying to figure out where things went wrong and how to set them right,she laced up her shoes, filled out some race registrations, discovered a whole community of helpful people and finally found herself–running. Follow Carolyn on Facebook at Meemaw the Marathoner.