“When you’ve been fighting for it all your life
You’ve been working every day and night
That’s how a superhero learns to fly
Every day, every hour
Turn the pain into power” – Superheroes by The Script
I chose this song for this week’s post title first, because I added it to my running mix and it fires me up and second, because I was reminded this week about the real meaning of perseverance. I raced twice this week: once at the end of my 17 mile training run for the last 6.2 miles in the Carrboro 10K and once at the Rambln’ Rose super sprint triathlon, where I was the runner on a relay team. While I enjoy “racecations”, I love racing at home.
Saturday’s long run was just one of those runs that works out. I won’t say 17 miles was easy but it was not as hard as I once thought it would be. I ran solo (except the last 6.2 miles with 500 of my fellow Carroborians but I did not have any friend running this race with me) and I enjoyed it. I was able to stick to my run/walk ratio, something I have been horrible about doing when running with my group. I don’t want to make anyone do intervals with me and I think it has cost me at the end of long runs. Dimity keeps (very nicely) chiding me for not consistently doing the intervals we agreed we would do. I learned my lesson on Saturday. From here on out, I will stick to the plan. Hold me accountable, friends. I can run non-stop for a long time but I can also run longer and better with planned walk breaks. I am a new runner. I need to be patient with myself. I also set a 10K PR at the end of a 17 mile run so the intervals are certainly not slowing me down.
During the 10K, I ran for a bit behind a local running legend. She is in her 80s and has competed in many full Ironman races. She has an Ironman tattoo on her calf. She did not start running until she was in her 40s. She is my inspiration. She comes to all the local races and, in years past, she has beat me. I want to still be doing this when I am 80. She is a total badass (but very nice) and I love that she shows up to races in full make-up and a USA triathlon suit – y’all know I love a good outfit! Reminders that I need to suck it up and move these 43 year old legs on down the road without bitching.
Even more inspiring this week were two of the athletes I saw at the Ramblin’ Rose. The Ramblin’ Rose is a beginner triathlon series for women only. Their message is truly that ANYONE can be a triathlete and I have seen it with my own eyes. Being on a relay team means you get to stand in transition and see everyone coming in and out. You also get to moonlight as a cheerleader for all the women who are getting it done. There are women who I know must weigh over 300 pounds, in stretchy fabric, out there on the course moving in a forward motion. Some folks have to walk their swim in the pool. Some folks have to get off their bikes and push it up the hill. Some have to walk the run but they all finish. Yesterday, I saw two disabled athletes finish the race. One woman was the swimmer on a relay team even though she had to walk with two canes and her teammates bought her in to cross the finish line with them. I saw another woman with a quad cane, moving so slow, on a recumbant bike and walking her run. She had a friend helping her every step of the way. I was completely inspired. So, maybe I am slow. So, maybe my core is covered in a layer of baby fat. I can walk without assistance. I can run. I can shut up about my aches and pains. Everyone has a struggle and some are real.
I was also inspired by Carly, yesterday. Carly struggles to stay motivated with trianing. She is not one to aspire to long term goals. She had not trained for this race even though she was signed up for months. Early in the week, she decided she was not even going to do it. Then, on Friday, she decided to race it. The child got up early, put on her triathlon suit, waited a really long time in the cold for her turn in the pool, rode her bike wet and cold and walked her run but she did it. She was brave. I might not have taught the perseverance lesson I had hoped to teach but she did learn a lesson about being brave and doing what you say you are going to do. I am really proud of her!
So, this is how a superhero learns to fly. Doing things when conventional wisdom says you are too old. Doing a triathlon even though you can’t walk without assistance. Taking a chance on a race when you know you are going to come in dead last in your age group. Putting one foot in front of the other every day, not just in running, but in life.