I used to be embarassed to tell my time unless it was a PR or so. But now, I am happy to proclaim that I am a mid-packer and happy to be one.
I like being able to enjoy the runs, to take pictures, to make new running friends, to recount the excitement of races as if I won first place - just because I finished!
I love that my heart is in it, but after throwing out numbers for the past two half-marathons, I feel as if a weight has been lifted. I now realize that I run for fun and fitness, not so much competition. Afterall the only person I plan on beating - is myself.
I remember how I used to feel. When I would come in last or nearly last. I felt mocked by myself. No one else, and certainly not the ones who were ther with me, but by the men rolling up the mats, or the people walking to their cars after finishing a long time ago. The "way to go - you are almost there - it is all downhill from here!"' comments, although meant to be supportive, seemed to be cutting.
But that was because I thought that walkers/runners are only atheletes and should only be out there if they could run sub-10's. Me being a habitual 12:00 runner felt out of place. I felt out of time.
I started to avoid races with smaller fields, because I enjoyed knowing that there was someone behind me!
I sort of dreaded my TNT training runs because I was the slowest one out there, so I opted to run with my running partner instead. In the end this solidified our running friendship, but I fostered my fear of being myself on the run.
Now I can recount the races and the runs by location and feelings. I feel the run again. I love the challenge, the accomplishment, and the knowledge that the people who love me and have my back are proud of me even if I finish last! Now talk about a relief! I am allowed to take it at my pace!!!!
Now I get to tell the stories of my runs over dinners of carbs and wine - and I find cool ways of rewarding myself for finishing the feat at hand, regardless of what place I did it in. I still did it - what does it matter if it took me 3 hours or 1? The finish is still as sweet, is it not?
So next time you feel like the last place runner or walker - remember that you did something most people will not - you put one foot down then the other, and you started. It is now up to you to finish.
I now run for wine... not time. And I like it better this way!